Friday, August 30, 2013

2 Thessalonians 1 - Jesus Christ the Judge

Hello Project Ezra!  This week our suggested reading is from 2 Thessalonians chapter 1.  Paul encourages those in the church he planted, and then reminds them of the Day of Judgment, and the wrath that Jesus Christ will bring on those who have rejected Him.  This is a Jesus that most people don’t like to think about.  Often Jesus is thought of as kind and meek, in contrast to the angry, wrathful God of the Old Testament.  But this is just one of many passages that demonstrated that is not the case.  Jesus Christ is our savior, but He is also judge to those who remain in their sins.  We want people to see all of who Jesus Christ is, so that they will repent of their sins and trust in Him, rather than remaining in their sins, unworried, believing God is all love, and that they have no justice to be concerned with.  I pray that God will be with you in your outreach this weekend, and that souls will be saved. 

All for His glory,



Many of the books in the New Testament were not written as books, but as letters

The Apostle Paul, likely the greatest missionary the world has ever known, wrote many letters to churches he had planted, to instruct and encourage them.

2 Thessalonians is one of those letters, written to a church in the city of Thessalonica

Paul starts by letting them know he has been boasting to the other churches about their endurance under persecution.

He then reminds them that God will eventually bring them relief, and judge those who have been attacking them.

He talks about the day of final judgment, and his description is sobering.

He describes Jesus Christ coming in power, with an army of angels at His side.

This Jesus is not the meek and mild man many have imagined Him to be.

This Jesus comes in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance.

He comes not only to judge those who chose not to obey His message.

The passage says He comes also to judge those who do not know Him.

Ignorance will be no excuse before God, on that final day.

All those who fall under God’s judgment will be punished forever.  The horror of that judgment is beyond human comprehension.

Does that shock you?  Does it bother you to think about spending eternity separated from God’s goodness, and under the full weight of His wrath, in a place called hell?

The idea of Hell should bother you, but for a different reason then it probably does.

It probably bothers you because you think it is unfair.  It should bother you because you know in your heart that it is what you deserve.

If you look at yourself in light of God’s law with a tender heart, you will not see it as unfair or arbitrary.

When looked at through the mirror of God’s law, we see that punishment as it truly is.  We see it as justice.

When is that last time you compared yourself to God’s law, in light of God’s perfect holiness?

Habakkuk 1 says “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”
Yet we have done evil in God’s site

Exodus 34 tells us that you will not leave the guilty unpunished.

Yet we are guilty before Him


But we are not here to condemn you.  Your condemnation comes from God, not us.

John 3 tells us:
Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

But we are here because we wish for you what Paul wished for the church in Thessalonica

We pray that God may make you worthy of His calling, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.

None of us are truly worthy of God’s calling.  But by His power, our lives can be changed.

Biblical salvation is not something we choose to do, but something God does in us.

Ezekiel 36 describes it like this:
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.

This is what happens when someone is born again, when they repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone.

Repentance is a change in direction.  It means turning away from sin, from those things that God hates and commands us to stay away from, and turning our eyes to Christ.

We must trust in Jesus Christ alone, because only He paid the penalty for sin.

2000 Years ago Jesus, God in human form, came to earth and lived the perfect life we could never live.

Then He willingly went to a Roman cross, and died a horrible bloody death, so that our moral crimes could be paid for, and we could go free.

Now He sits at the Father’s right hand as our advocate, our lawyer for the Day of Judgment.

Because of His sacrifice, all those who turn from their sin and trust in Him alone will be seen as clean.

Christians are right before God not because they are good, but because of the perfect goodness of Jesus Christ.

Only if we are clothed in Jesus Christ’s righteousness, only if His perfection has covered our sin, can we enter heaven.

So put your trust in Christ today.  Humble yourself and cry out to Him, and He will save you!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Romans 2 – God’s Kindness, Our Rebellion

Hello Project Ezra!  This week the suggested reading is Romans chapter 2.  I came across it during my daily Bible reading, and I can’t imagine why I didn’t chose to use the chapter sooner.  It is a wonderful chapter.  It has many great springboards into the gospel, but this week we will be focusing on verses 4 and 5, on God’s goodness and patience that is meant to lead us to repentance, but that we are instead storing up wrath for ourselves.  I also changed the focus of the use of the law, looking at our sins against God for the perspective of several of the 10 commandments. Though we sin against others, I was reminded again that our sins are ultimately against God, and when we consider that truth our sins take on a greater weight, a weight that I hope will be felt by those who hear the reading this week.  Thanks for being part of the project, and may God bless your time of outreach this weekend.

All for His glory,



Do you presume on the riches of God's kindness and patience, not knowing that His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

Have you ever considered God's kindness toward you?

Have you ever considered how patient God has been with you?

Whether you would consider yourself a Christian or not, you know in your heart that there is a God.

And if you listen to your conscience for more than a minute, you will realize that God has every reason to be unspeakably angry with you.  And yet, He has held back His judgment.

We were created with a purpose, but each of us has acted in rebellion against that purpose

We are here for a reason, but in our hands that reason has been twisted and distorted, or simply ignored.

We were created for the glory of God, and for relationship with Him

But instead we try to avoid Him, and attempt to steal His glory for ourselves

When we talk about sin, we usually think about bad things we have done to other people

I often talk to people about God's law, and how every one of us has broken that law in regards to other people.

But in Psalm 51, David says “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Psalm 51:4, ESV)

That tells us that all our sins are primarily against God, and against other people only secondarily

If that is true, our sins are much more serious than most of us think

Take a moment to compare your behavior with God's law, and how that behavior relates to Him

We put ourselves uppermost in our own thoughts, when He should be, and so break the first commandments

We create gods in our own image, idols which we can control

In doing so we lie about who God is, to ourselves and others

We covet God’s sovereignty, claiming God’s power as our own. 

And rather than giving glory to God for who He is, we steal that glory for ourselves

Finally, we are unfaithful to the one who gave us life, and called us to relationship with Him

Even the smallest sin is infinitely sinful against an infinitely holy and perfect God.  But our sins have been anything but small.

Our rebellion has been against the Lord of the universe.  We are guilty of treason against the one who holds creation in a palm of His hand.

Indeed, as Hebrews 10 says, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Romans 2 tells us, those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will receive wrath and fury from God.  And that is exactly what each of us deserves

God’s wrath and fury will be carried out in hell.

Those who find themselves there will spend all eternity paying the price for their sin and rebellion.

But though God is just in punishing those who break His law, He takes no pleasure in it

He takes pleasure when they turn to Him, and live

Some would argue that the fact that evil still exists means God is imaginary, or impotent

Instead, it shows that He is patient, and kind.

His patience and kindness is meant to lead us to repentance, and to faith in Jesus Christ.

2000 years ago a man was born in an out-of-the-way corner of the Roman Empire

That man, Jesus of Nazareth, was more than a Jewish teacher.

He was more than a healer, or a worker of miracles.

He was God in the flesh, perfect in every way.

And after living a perfect life for 33 years, he went to a Roman cross and willingly laid down His life.

He became the perfect sacrifice for sin, satisfying God’s perfect justice.

Then He rose again, proving His power over death, and ascended to God’s right hand.

Now those who turn away from their sin and rebellion, and turn to Him, trusting in His perfect sacrifice alone to save them, are made right with God.

Those who follow Christ will stand in heaven not based on their own goodness, but on the goodness of Jesus Christ, the God-man, the savior of the world!

He is the king of kings, and the lord of lord

Have you made your peace with the king?  Or will His wrath be revealed to you on the final day?

Don’t be foolish.  Don’t cling to your pride and lose soul.

Humble yourself.  Turn from your sin and to the savior

Repent and trust in Him today.  Turn to Christ and live!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Genesis 15

Hello Project Ezra!  This week’s reading is Genesis 15, and we will be addressing several aspects of God's character that we see in this chapter.  One claim that is often made, and sometimes even by professing believers, is that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are radically different, with the God of the Old Testament being harsh and angry, and the God of the New Testament being loving and mercifulBut if you really read the Old and New Testament through, you will see clearly that is not the case.  Though it is certainly true that some of the ways God has chosen to deal with His people is different under the New Covenant, that has nothing to do with God's character or nature, but rather will the progression of God's plan and fulfillment of His promises over time.  God has not chosen to reveal Himself and His purposes all at once, but gradually over time.  So this week we will be encouraging people to take a step back, so they can see God revealing His sovereignty, fulfilling His promises, and showing us that He is trustworthy through the story of Abraham.  And ultimately, we pray that they will also see His mercy and grace provided through the cross. 

All for His glory,  Dan 



BRIEF INTRO TO TEXT – You might want to give a brief introduction to the passage.  Talk about Abram vs Abraham, Issac and Jacob, how their decedents became nation of Israel, etc. 

In order to truly understand this passage, you need to understand some things about who God is 

First, our God is a Sovereign God.  That means he is in complete control over all time and eternity 

All that happens in this world, in this universe only happens because He either causes, or allows is 

Psalm 115 tell us “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. 

And Ephesians 1 reminds us again that it is He who works all things after the counsel of His will  

God had a plan from the beginning of time, and that plan continues today 

He knew the history of creation from Adam and Eve to the final judgment before you or I were born, and He knows our future as well. 

It was because He knew Abraham's future that He could tell him what his descendants would do, hundreds of years later. 

It was because he knew the future that He prophesied the exodus to Egypt, and even that Abraham's descendants would be there 400 years, which they were. 

It was because of His perfect knowledge that He could promise to bless Abraham's descendants and bring them into the promised land, which He did 

This shows us that God is a God of promise 

His actions are not random or arbitrary 

He has a plan, and His promises are based on that plan 

And God's plan cannot be thwarted by any power in heaven or on earth 

In Isaiah 46 He says “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 

He promised Abraham that his heir would be his own son, and he was, even though Abraham and his wife were too old for children 

He promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants, which He did, though many hundreds of years later. 

He even promised, from the time of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden (Genesis 3), and through the prophets (Isaiah 7, Isaiah 53), to bring a savior through Abraham’s family, which He did in Jesus Christ 

Because God is Sovereign and can control all things, and because God keeps the promises He makes, we can also see that God is trustworthy 

Abram did not know or understand everything God has planned, but he trusted Him, and that faith was rewarded. 

Like Abraham, and many of the great men of scripture, we will never see all the details on this side of eternity 

God may or may not choose to reveal what He has planned for your life 

But you can trust God, that what He has commanded, and where He has placed you, and what He has directed for you, is good. 

Do you believe that?  Do you believe that God is good, and has a good plan for you?  Many people don’t. 

Many people look at the world around them, and see reasons to believe God is not trustworthy, is not good, or even does not exist. 

But we all know in our hearts that He does 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us God has put eternity into the hearts of men 

Romans 1 says this:  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 

And the second chapter of Romans reminds us that the work of the law is written on our hearts, and our consciences bear witness, so that we are without excuse. 


The truth is that God is Just, and we are guilty 

Because of our guilt, we deserve His justice, His punishment 

And His punishment will be carried out in a very real place called Hell, a place of fire, and darkness, and eternal pain and despair 

But though Hell is what we all deserve, we do not have to go there 

God is not only just righteous, but also good, and patient, and kind 

He is a God who is merciful and gracious 

Mercy is not getting what you deserve. In our case, that means we do not receive the justice we deserve 

Grace is receiving what we don't deserve.  We receive God's love and all His good gifts and blessings.  And one day, we will even spend eternity with Him! 

But God's mercy and grace did not come cheap.  Justice still needed to be satisfied, because God always acts consistently with His justice as well as His mercy. 

So God did not ignore our sins.  He paid for them. 

Jesus Christ, God the Son, for whom and through whom all things exist, humbled Himself and came to live among His creation 

He lived the perfect life we could never live.  Though He was a man, and was tempted in every way as we are (Hebrews 4), He never sinned once. 

Then He went to a cross and was killed, a perfect sacrifice, slaughtered to put away sin 

Isaiah 53 even tells us that it pleased the Father to crush Him, for the sake of our sin 

Then, three days later, as He has prophesied He would, He rose again from the dead 

Now, because of that sacrifice, because He paid our debt, we can go free! 

We are told that freedom is received through repentance, and believing the gospel 

That means you must abandon your sin, and trust in Christ, and in Him alone, to save you 

And when you do, God will change your heart, and you will be born again 

The Bible says you will be made a new creature.  It tells us God will remove your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh, one that loves Him and desires to please Him 

So trust in the sovereign God of the universe, that He will save those who trust in Him, as He has promised 
Turn to Christ today, and be saved!