Thursday, June 27, 2013

Project Ezra - 1 John on July 4th 2013

Hello Project Ezra! July 4th is next week, so it’s time to start talking to your friends and church family about you in participating in this year’s First John on July 4th reading.  You can participate this weekend or next, or on the 4th itself, of course.  The book is five chapters long, and the chapters are not very long, so it’s a good book for dividing up.  It’s also got an amazing amount of good springboards into the gospel.  1 John is one of my favorite books to read from before I open-air preach, particularly since it deals so directly with those who falsely profess Christ.  When I meet someone who states that they are a Christian, but I have questions due to their behavior, this is the book I recommend they read.  A false believer will have a hard time getting through 1 John without being seriously convicted.

If you invite a friend or two to join you, recommend that they visit our Facebook page below, or that they take a look at one or more of our event reports.  Both the Facebook page, and a couple of more recent event reports, are linked below.  It would be great to be able to put together another good event report for this 4th of July, so if you are able to provide pictures, video, or a written testimony, please send them to me or post them on the event page, which is now up.

Project Ezra on Facebook:

Here are a few suggestions for gospel springboards that I also shared last year.  You can use one of these, combine them, or use your own.  But more than anything, please be sure to spend time in prayer and in study of the scriptures to prepare yourself, intellectually and spiritually, to share the gospel in a way that honors and glorifies God.  Don’t forget, we are just the vehicle that caries the message.  By God’s grace we have the incredible privilege of being used for His purposes, and of seeing His power in operation.  But the work is not ours, it’s His. 

Please be sure to post your location on the event wall, so we know where you will be reading and so others can be praying for you.  May God be glorified in your obedience!

All for His glory,

1 John 1:1-4  The words of life, being manifest through Christ Jesus, with the Apostles as eyewitnesses

1 John 1:5-10  Walking in the light, confessing our sin, and being cleansed by the blood of Christ.  If we say we have not sinned, His word is not in us.

1 John 2: 1-2  Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 2:3-6  Walking in obedience out of love for Christ

1 John 2:15-17  Do not love the world.  The world passing away along with its desires

1 John 2:18-28  The Antichrists, the deceivers who deny the Father and the Son

1 John 3:4-10  The practices of sin and righteousness.  The fruit of true repentance and faith

1 John 4:1-6  Test the spirits.  The Spirit of God and the spirit of error

1 John 4:7-12  The love of God made manifest through us in Christ Jesus

1 John 5:1-5  Those born of God overcoming the world

1 John 6:6-12  The testimony of God concerning His son.  He who has the Son has life.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Proverbs 6 - Can a God of Love, Hate?

Hello Project Ezra.  This week’s suggested reading is Proverbs 6, and the subjects we will address are difficult.  As with the rest of Proverbs, the chapters are collections of wise sayings, generally addressing multiple subjects, and it’s harder to find a unified theme within most chapters.  I chose two directions from this chapter, one the idea of temptation to sin in the warning against adultery in verses 23 through 35, and the other the hatred of God in verses 16 through 19. Both address issues that I think are very important and need to be handled more carefully then they usually are, not only by the world around us, but within the church as well.

The topic of sin has become a taboo in our day, even in many churches.  It’s uncomfortable to think about our own sin, and it’s often more uncomfortable to think about confronting others on their sin.  That is largely because sin is not something we can look at from a distance.  Our society is in the midst of it, soaked in it.  We are so accustomed to exposure to sinful ideas that it’s hard for many people to even identify sin.  They don’t think of the icons of our culture as offensive to God.  They just are, and the inherent idea of tolerance for other points of view makes it very politically incorrect to disagree with anybody about any personal choice or belief.   

We as a society don’t view sin as God does, and as His word commands us to.  Even those, like many of you, who love Christ and want to please and worship Him, and who know what sin is, likely have trouble knowing where to draw lines.  I certainly do, though I often think that if I could put myself aside more easily and frequently, and try to look around from a more Biblical perspective, I would be horribly appalled and convicted.  We should weep over our sin, and over the fate we know awaits those are still lost in it.  Hopefully, by the power of the Spirit, we can show a bit of that to those who hear the word this weekend as well.

Secondly, we will be addressing the things that God hates.  This is an equally difficult subject to handle well.  It is vital that we are careful in presenting it, but that we never compromise on who God is and what He has revealed about Himself.  God is a God of love.  How can He hate too?  Of course, the ultimate reconciliation of these two ideas is at the very heart of Christianity.  The ultimate demonstration of the truth of God’s love for His children, and His hatred of sin, is in the cross of Christ.  Just as a serious diabetic sees their need for insulin injections to survive, we must show people the symptoms of the disease of sin, and God’s hatred of that sin, so they will see their need of the savior, Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and give you strength and boldness, tempered with humility, as you go out to preach His word today.

All for His glory,



GIVE BRIEF BACKGROUND ON CHAPTER - Wisdom of Solomon, about Solomon, collection of wise sayings, etc.  Set the stage.

This chapter tells us about God, our creator, and His attitude toward sin, among other things.

The idea of God, and His definition of sin, can be difficult to talk about, but I want to take a moment to challenge you to think about them.

Consider this: Is your idea of sin the same as God's?

Do you love the things God loves, and hate the things God hates?

God hates sin.  In fact, His word says that His eyes are too pure to even look on evil. (Habakkuk 1:13)

But we often love our sin

Proverbs 6 tells us to beware the adulteress, and we should.  Sexual sin is horribly damaging.

But adultery is only one of many temptations, of many sinful desires and lusts we must deal with.

Why do we sin?  There are many reasons

The most basic is that often, sin is fun. 

We live in a sin-cursed world, and have a natural inclination toward sin

Because of that inclination, if there are no immediate consequences, or if we believe we can escape those consequences, we will choose sin almost every time. 

Is it fun?  Can we get away with it?  Then go for it.

In fact, sinful behavior is so frequently promoted in our modern society, that we can hardly recognize it.

But sin does have consequence, often in this life, and always in the next.

Proverbs 6:27 asks "Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?"

There will be a day when the fire of God's judgment will consume those who choose to remain in their sins and in rebellion against Him.

One of the reasons we are here today/tonight, is because we don’t want that for you.  We want to see you turn and live. 


The Bible tells us that God is not only loving, but He IS love. (1 John 4:8)

But Proverbs 6, and other places in scripture, also talks about God’s anger, hatred and wrath.

Proverbs 6:16-19 says:
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Psalm 5:5 says:
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

Nahum 1:2, 6 tells us
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.
6 Who can stand before his indignation?  Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.

God is a God of love, but not only love.  There is more than one aspect to His character.

God’s anger and wrath are real, because God hates sin

A desire for justice is also part of His character.

Psalm 7:11 says God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

Do you deserve God’s justice?  If you take a moment to look at God’s law, as I have, you will see that you do.


If God is a just judge, then we are guilty criminals, in light of His law.

So we all deserve God’s justice.  Does that frighten you?  It should.

Fear is not always a bad thing.  Like pain, it can be a tool God uses to show us that something is wrong, and that we are in danger.

But is there an escape from that danger?   Is there a way for God’s justice to be satisfied?

There are two ways justice will be satisfied.  The first is through Judgment.

If we stand before God in our sin, we will be sent to Hell, to serve an eternal sentence.

Hell is a place of eternal fire and darkness, and pain.  It is a place where we are separated from all of God’s goodness, and remain under the weight of His wrath.

But there is another way, and way we may have true peace with God.

That is the way He Himself provided, through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus, the God-man, came to earth and lived a perfect life, a life we could never live.

Then He suffered and died on a Roman cross, so that sin could be paid for, and justice satisfied.

Though He asked the Father if the cup could pass Him by, He submitted to the Father’s will, and drained the cup of God’s wrath dry.

Then He rose again from the dead, defeating sin and death, and proving who He was

Now He stands as our advocate before the Father.

If you will turn from you sin and turn to Christ, then by that sacrifice your sins will be paid for, and you will be free.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Psalm 62 - Our Only Hope Is In God

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray you are all doing well.  This week our suggested reading is Psalm 62.  I’ve decided to key in on a few verses in particular, those which talk about God as our savior, and which remind us that our only hope is in Him. I've used that as a theme, and expanded on it, talking about why that is true, and what that means.  There was a time in our country's history when if you told someone that they needed God to save them, there was at least a general idea of what that might mean.  But not anymore, and I'm sure the same is true for many outside the states.  Our culture has become so relativistic and Biblically illiterate that often, when having a spiritual conversation with someone, you will have to go back to the most basic points of what truth is and what the word God means, because there simply isn't the necessary foundation there to build on.  So hopefully this outline will help to lay some of that foundation, and at least plant a gospel seed, if nothing else.  

We have our next big event, First John on July Fourth, coming up in a few weeks.  Now is the time to let others know and invite people to join you.  Start looking for outreach opportunities in your area, places and times where people will be gathering and where you might have an opportunity to share the gospel through scripture reading.  I know in my area there are almost too many to choose from, in communities all around me.  It’s a good problem to have!  Few holidays draw people out like the Fourth, at least here in the US.  But even if you are not in the States (as many of our members are not), there will still be good opportunities in your area.  And 1 John is a great book to divide up, since the chapters are relatively short, and easy for even those very new to public scripture reading.  I’ll try to have the event up on Facebook in a couple days, so be looking for it.

All for His glory,



The writer of this Psalm says his only hope is in God

But what does that really mean?

If you would call yourself an atheist, hoping in God may not mean anything at all to you.  It may just sound like foolishness

If you have some type of a religious background, you’ll likely have some idea of what it might mean.

But your ideas will likely be different from the other “religious” people who are listening

In order to really understand what it means to say our only hope is in God, and whether there is any reason to do so, you need to understand a couple of things

You need to understand something about who God is

You need to understand some things about who we are

First, there is such thing as truth, and God is true

Though many people, if not most in our culture, argue that all truth is relative, some things really are true

In fact, the moment you say that truth is relative to the person, you are making a truth claim, and contradicting yourself

You can't even argue against truth without assuming one side is right and the other side is wrong

The reason people want to deny absolute trust is simply to escape person responsibility for their actions

But we all know that some things are true, and some things are false, whether we want to admit it or not

The same is true when we talk about God.  He is either real, or He is not, and that reality is vital

The Bible tells us there is a real God, and that He has revealed Himself

The Christian God is not simply a belief that we choose or reject because of the potential of personal benefit

The God of the Bible is not one God among many, one choice that you can take along with other choices, to mix and match as you please

Scripture says that God alone is the creator of all that exists.  All other so-called gods are false

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens. (Psalm 96:5, ESV)

It also tells us that God created all that is by Himself.  In Isaiah 44 He says:
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself, (Isaiah 44:24, ESV)

The Bible tells us He has revealed Himself, in His word, to His creation, and the evidence shows us that is true (SEE BELOW FOR MORE)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21, ESV)

So there is truth, God is real, He has revealed Himself, and He alone is creator and Lord

Since God created us, we are His.  But since we have broken His law, we are also guilty before Him

The Bible tells us that we are guilty before God, and worthy of His just punishment

Many people will point out that God is love, and He is.  That is something true, something He has revealed about Himself in His word (1 John 4:8)

But just as we have different aspects to our character, so does God.  And one of those aspects is justice

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)

Many times God speaks of just punishment for crimes.  In fact, our legal system takes many of its principles from Biblical principles of justice

But regardless of the way you look in the light of human law, in light of God’s law you are guilty

God’s standard is perfection, and Jesus said to be perfect, as His heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  None of us can come close to that standard.

Take a moment to look into the mirror of God’s law, so you can see yourself in truth


But God will not only convict us of sin, but see that justice is satisfied for that sin.

I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. (Ecclesiastes 3:17, ESV)

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4, ESV)

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, (Romans 2:8-9, ESV)

So we see that God is just, we are guilty before His law, and He would be perfectly justified in pouring out His wrath on us.

And there is no escape.  God is our lawgiver and judge.  He has the power to destroy.  But, He also has the power to save (James 4:12)

We see that God is a God of mercy and love, and in that mercy and love we can find hope

God is a merciful and loving God, and through His grace we may be saved

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV)

Mercy means not receiving the punishment we justly deserve.  In this case that means escape from God’s wrath, and from Hell.

But God, because of His perfect nature, must see justice satisfied.  So our sin had to be punished.

God satisfied justice by pouring out wrath upon His own son, on a Roman cross.

Jesus became our propitiation.  That means that by the offering of His own blood, God’s wrath was turned away from those who would believe in Him

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10, ESV)

So this is our hope, and the reason we can only find hope in God.

God is our creator, and God is our judge

We are guilty before Him and deserving of His justice and wrath.

But through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, justice has been satisfied, and we can go free

Our sin can be washed clean, not by our own goodness, but by the goodness of another, our Lord Jesus Christ

So today, while God has given you time, turn that hope into a reality

Turn from your sins, and turn to Christ. 

Only in Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the perfect sacrifice for sin and the perfect advocate before God the Father, can we have peace with God.

I pray today that you too will have the peace that passes all understanding, as the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, and that God will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.


The Bible, Has God Spoken?  By Greg Koukl

Why I Choose to Believe the Bible By Dr. Voddie Bauchum

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ecclesiastes 1-2 - Striving After the Wind

Do you ever one of those days when you feel like you are getting nothing accomplished?  Are there times when you feel like you are spinning your wheels, but getting nowhere?  We all have those kind of days.  I certainly do, and there are few things that frustrate me more.  But frighteningly, we seem to have a culture that revolves around activates that make us seem to be busy or successful, that make us look like we are accomplishing something, when in reality our lives are being totally wasted on things that, ultimately, don't matter at all.  Much of what defines modern culture and our priorities is, ultimately, a complete waste of time.

The book of Ecclesiastes has much to say to our current culture.  At least in the Western world, the measure of a man or woman's success is money, power, or fame, and people are willing to die and kill for them.  I spent part of this last weekend observing what could only be described as a celebration of humanism, the idea that man is the measure of all things, and that the world revolves around us.  Millions of dollars were spent on a lavish celebration with amazing sights, sounds, and tastes, the likes of which most people will never experience.  As I watched (as an observer, not a participant), I couldn't help but think of Solomon, and the lavish pleasures He indulged in.  Pleasure, fine food, entertainment, music, and the like are certainly not evil in themselves.  God created them for His own glory, and I believe He is glorified when they are rightly enjoyed by His people.  Solomon said as much, but he was also wise enough to realize that all the worldly treasures he enjoyed were ultimately ephemeral, worthless from an eternal perspective.

Many of the people we talk to when we share the gospel with will be striving after these things.  We live in a society of many seeds among thorns, where worry and wealth choke out the truths of God that people so desperately need to hear.  So I pray that this reading will catch people's ears, and that they will see the wisdom of the king who knew that it is the wisdom to know and follow God, and not worldly wealth, that has true value. Perhaps, by God's grace, some with turn from their striving after the wind, and strive after eternal treasure that can never be taken from those who trust in Him.                               

All for His glory,


READ ECCLESIASTES 1 & 2                            

What are you living for?

Fame, wealth, power, pleasure, knowledge?

Solomon, who we just heard about in this reading, had them all.  He had more of what men desire than any man in history

He had power. He was king over a powerful nation, and had many other nations subject to his rule, and which paid him tribute

He had fame.  We are told of a powerful queen who traveled from her kingdom to see the glory of his kingdom and hear his wisdom, and who was overwhelmed at how great they were.

He withheld no pleasure from himself.  He had food, music, women, and all the other things that delight men.

He had wealth beyond imagining.  He was the richest man of his time, possibly one of the richest men of all times.

And he had wisdom.  He didn’t just have knowledge, but God had gifted him in the right understanding and use of that knowledge.

But despite living a life that most successful men and women or our time would have trouble imagining, he realized that these things do not satisfy

He called them vanity, and a striving after the wind

Verses 8 through 10 tell us:
8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already
in the ages before us.

As James 4 tells us, our lives are like a mist, which appears for a short time and then vanishes away

Yet we waste our lives striving after earthly things when we were meant for heavenly things

We were created with a purpose, and that purpose is not simply to be born, spend our lives chasing wealth and power, and then die.

Our purpose is demonstrated in the account of the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve walked with God in intimate relationship

We were meant for such a relationship, where, as the Westminster Catechism says, we glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But, because Adam and Eve rebelled against God, that relationship, and the world, was broken by sin

We were made to give God glory, but His word tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We have lost our purpose.

Sin in missing the mark, and breaking God's law

Each sin we commit is a moral crime against God's perfect holiness

We covet, desiring what others have, and not being pleased with the good gifts God has given us.

Sometimes that coveting reaches the point of theft.  If was cannot earn what we want we simply take it.

We lust.  We have sexual desire toward those who are not ours, who God has not given to us for intimacy, often desiring them in place of the marriage relationship God has meant for us.

When the opportunity presents itself, we even commit adultery, breaking the vows made between husband, wife, and their creator.

And all of those things are, at heart, idolatry, when we treat our desires as more important than God and His word

We cannot take these truths lightly.  Crimes have consequences.

Guilty criminals deserve to be punished.  Not arbitrary punishment, but justice, what we deserve.

God’s word tells us that punishment for sin will be carried out in a real place called Hell, a place of fire, and darkness, and pain.

But God, for His own glory, has made a way for us to be made right again.

He made a way for justice to be satisfied, and our fine paid, so we can go free

That way came through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ

Ephesians 1 tells us that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth to give the Father glory, through the demonstration of His blessings to us, shown through the redemption and forgiveness we receive through His blood, that those who hope in Him would be to the praise of His glory and would show the riches of His grace.

Jesus Christ glorified God through His perfect life, the only perfect life ever lived

He glorified God through His atoning sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice which paid the penalty for our sin

He glorified God through His resurrection from the dead, a resurrection he prophesied many times before His death  

Now the glory of that salvation, a salvation that radically changes hearts and lives, can be ours, through repentance and faith

This is the greatest gift imaginable.  We deserve justice and hell, but can receive forgiveness, and spend eternity in heaven.

That gift is received by turning from sin, and turning to Christ, and to Him alone

This is not a demand for perfection, but a change in allegiance.

Through salvation your guilt is washed away by the righteous of Christ

You will be seen as perfect on Judgment Day because of Christ's perfection

And by the power of the Holy Spirit, your heart and desires will be changed as God draws you to Himself.

Then you will spend eternity in the presence of God, in the joy of worship, as you were designed to do

Is that your destination?  Have you turned from sin and turned to Christ?

Though I hope you live a long, happy life, none of us are promised a tomorrow

What good is a happy life compared to an eternity of suffering for your sin?

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?                                          

If you have not repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ, turn to Him today