Saturday, October 26, 2013

Luke 16 – Lazarus – Law and Prophets

Hello Project Ezra!  This week’s suggested reading is the story of the rich man and Lazarus, from Luke 16.  It is also another example of a story that is so appropriate for sharing the gospel that I can’t believe I haven’t used it in my outreach more often.  It is a wonderful, compact description of the truth of hell and real issue in man’s disbelief, that of the suppressing of God’s truth.  I’ve shared many times with others I’ve helped to mentor in public evangelism that disbelief is never an intellectual problem, but a moral and spiritual one.  Certainly there are those out there who have unanswered questions, and if those questions are sincere (many are not), we should be willing to take the time to answer those questions, or to look for the answers.  But as is made clear is this week’s passage, if they do not believe Moses and the Prophets (primarily the moral law and our conscience, and fulfilled prophecy), they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead. 

Many people will ask questions and claim lack of proof simply to try to shut Christians up.  If they can stump you, or confuse you, or catch you in what they think is a logical mistake, it will help encourage them in their disbelief, and they will think they are smarter than you.  It is that pride that is the foundation for much of people’s denial of God.  But don’t let it get to you.  Remember, it’s not your job to convince somebody of the truth of God’s word, or to save them.  Your job, and my job, is simply to be faithful to the calling God has given us, and God is glorified and honored in that.  We should study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15), and present the truth as clearly and plainly as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit will do the rest.  And it is only through a change by the Spirit of God that anyone will come to true salvation.

I pray this outline is a blessing, and that the Spirit will bring many to true faith this weekend.

 All for His glory,



This is the story of a rich man, and a poor man, but it’s not really about money

It’s a story about eternity

During life the rich man had all that he wanted, but nothing that really mattered

While the poor man had nothing of earthly value.  No money, no health, and no help.

But when they walked off into eternity, things changed dramatically.

I want to share a few truths, that I pray, by God’s grace, will change you dramatically.

First, hell is a real place, and it is terrible beyond comprehension.

It is a place of fire and pain.  The rich man was in such agony, that he begged for a single drop of water. 

No one should want to go there.  I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want you to go there. 

That is part of why we are here tonight.

Second, there will be no second chance after this life.

When the rich man saw Lazarus, there was a wide gulf separating them, which could not be crossed.

Whether that picture was figurative or literal, the message is clear.

As scripture says, it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.

Third, you will not be able to claim ignorance, or lack of evidence, on that final day.

Though God is not obligated to prove His existence of power to us, He has still chosen to provide us with evidence.

The Prophets foretold many truths about Jesus Christ

They told us what family He would come from, where He would be born, where He would live, that he would be betrayed, and the details of that betrayal, that He would die for sin, how He would die, and even that His garments would be gambled for.


The Law also shows us the truth of God’s existence.

The Bible tells us that God writes His law on our hearts, and our conscience bears witness.

Every one of us has a conscience, and a knowledge of right and wrong.

Though we may try to suppress God’s truth because of our unrighteousness and desire to sin and go our own way (Romans 1:18-23), in the end we will be without excuse.

If you examine yourself in light of God’s moral law, you will find this to be true.

Consider the 10 Commandments.  Though God says much more in His law, the Commandments are a good litmus test, an over-arching view of God’s expectations.


So we see that there is an eternal punishment waiting for those that rebel against God.

We see that all of us deserve to go there, and that we can no claim ignorance as an excuse.

And we see that there will be no way of escape, and no second chance.

So what should we do? 

Though we know we are guilty, is there a way our case can be dismissed, so we can go free?

There is a way, one way, and it is through the man who told us this story.

Jesus Christ, who lived almost 2000 years ago, was more than a wise man, or a teller of stories.

He not only told the story.  He was the answer to the story.

Jesus lives a life like no other person in history.  He lived a life of perfection.

He could live that life because He was God in human flesh, who came to earth for our sake.

By the power of the Spirit, He lived in obedience to God, taught the people, worked many miracles, and then suffered and died.

When He died on the cross, God laid all our sin, all our iniquity, on Him, and punished Him in our place (Isaiah 53).

Then, as He has prophesied, He rose again from the dead, proving His power over  death.

Then He ascended into heaven, where He will represent His people before the eternal judgment seat.

Every one of us will stand in judgment one day.  It is appointed unto men once to die, and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

On that day sentence will be passed.  Will you have to pay for your own crimes?

There is only one other choice.  God is perfectly justice, so justice will be done.

But if you turn from your sinful, selfish life, and turn to the Savior, Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone, then His blood will be the payment for your sin.

Colossians 2 tells us that God satisfied the legal demands of the law, nailing them to the cross.

Through Jesus’ blood our sins can be washed away.  Though you deserve Hell, you can spend eternity in Heaven, worshiping and loving God, and mankind was intended to do.

If you have not done that, if you are denying God and continuing to live in sin, please repent and trust in Christ today.

Life is short.  None of us is promised a tomorrow.

Turn to Christ today, and live, while you still have time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Acts 20:17-38 - Hard Truths

Hello Project Ezra!  This week's suggested reading is from Acts 20, and deals with the struggles Paul had in the sharing of the gospel and planting churches.  We sometimes talk about persecution in the church, but for the most part, what we call persecution is nothing more than discomfort or inconvenience.  The attacks Paul dealt with were real persecution, and to make matters worse, he was preaching a difficult message.  The message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ seemed crazy to many of the people of Paul's day.  Think about what he was saying, and how you would react.  A carpenter from a out-of-the-way town was not only a prophet, but God in human flesh?  And this man lived a perfect life, died a criminal's death, and then rose from the dead?  And now trusting in Him is the only way to peace with God?  Really?? 

What we need to remember, when we are sharing the gospel, is that our message is difficult too.  Not only do we have the same issues as Paul, but we are sharing a message of a God of justice and wrath, who can only be appeased through terrible punishment.  God's justice was not foreign to the Jews, as it is to most in our culture, though they thought that justice would be reserved for their enemies.  They were also expecting a deliverer, a savior, though when He came, He was much different than they expected as well.  Most people you know probably think they can save themselves.  The truths that were foundational to Jewish culture are almost completely foreign to ours.  We only need ourselves.  We act as our own gods, whether we acknowledge it or not.  And that makes our message very difficult to hear. 

That is why we must depend on the power of the Gospel.  We share hard truths, with love and compassion, but without compromise, because it is through that Gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that God has chosen to draw people to Himself.  Accommodating the message to the culture changes the message and robs it of its power.  We are to be heralds, not negotiators.  And though we must always act with respect and love to those we want to reach, we need to trust in God to change hearts and minds.  I pray that this weekend hearts and minds will be changed as you are faithful to share His message, in its fullness. 

All for His glory, 



TALK ABOUT WHY WE ARE THERE - the glory of God and the salvation of those who are there 

I pray that, like Paul, I will not shrink from the declaring the whole counsel of God, as long as I may finish my course, and testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 

The gospel of grace is this: 
God created this world perfect 

But mankind, out of pride, chose to rebel and fell into sin 

Now, all men are born sinners, in rebellion against their creator 

And because of our rebellion, we are deserving of God's justice 

The scriptures tell us that justice will be carried out in a very real place called Hell 

But because God is not only a just judge, but also a loving Father, He made a way for justice to be satisfied, so we would not have to go to Hell 

Jesus Christ, God the Son, humbled Himself and came to earth 

He lived the perfect life that none of us did, and then died a perfect death on a Roman cross 

And on the cross, all God's anger and wrath toward sin was poured out on Him, so it would not have to be poured out on us. 

Then He rose on the third day, as He had prophesied He would, and after appearing to His disciples, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. 

He now sits as both judge, and advocate, and if we will turn from our sins and to the free gift of grace offered by our one true savior, then the price of our sins will be satisfied, we will be seen as righteous before God, and we will be free. 

Then we will spend eternity in loving relationship and worship of God, as we were designed to do. 

My life has no value in comparison to the greatness of this message, and the truth of God's grace. 

I pray that, like Paul and the early disciples, that I will not cease to admonish you night and day, even with tears. 

I know that these truths can be hard to accept, though they are not hard to understand. 

But the truth of our sin before God is real, and we all know it 

God has written His law on our hearts, and our consciences bear witness (Romans 2), so we know this to be true. 


You are a sinner, like I am, worthy of nothing by hell and God's wrath 

This is a hard truth that many churches, and pastors, will not teach. 

Some will lighten the message, with little or no emphasis on sin, or wrath 

They will tell you God is not angry, though the Bible tells us many times that He is 


Some with just try to make you feel good about yourself, so you can live your best life now. 

But they often ignore the truth of the world to come. 

If they do, know that they care more about your friendship, your acceptance, or your money, than they do about you, and preachers that bring nothing but comfort may also be bringing a curse upon you. 

Scripture calls them wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) 

They are teachers who tickle itching ears, preaching a comfortable message that causes you to wander from the truth, and into mythology (2 Timothy 4:3-4) 

But they do not help you.  They exploit you, and make merchandise out of you (2 Peter 2) for their own selfish reasons. 

But thought the truth of sin, death, and hell is hard, there is good news. 

God does not minimize sin, or ignore sin, or accept sin.   

But through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, 2000 years ago, he paid for sin. 

He came to earth, God in human flesh, lived a perfect life, and then died a perfect death, as payment for sin. 

Now He has risen from the dead, proving who He was, and reigns in heaven. 

If we trust in Him, in Jesus Christ alone, to save us through His shed blood, than we will be saved. 

To many of you they may sound like nothing more than foolishness. 

Scripture tells us that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing 

So if this sounds like foolishness to you, you have reason to fear. 

I would challenge you to read the Bible for yourself, and see what it says. 

OFFER FREE BIBLES IF YOU HAVE THEM AVAILABLE.  For unbelievers, I generally suggest John.  For professing believers, I suggest John and 1 John. 

I pray that you will consider these things.   

I pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your mind and heart, and bring you to a knowledge of Himself, so that you may be saved. 

Please, do not delay.  Call out to God, and be saved, while He has given you time.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Isaiah 25

Hello Project Ezra!  Thanks so much for being part of our group, and following this blog.  I pray that it will continue to be an encouragement to you, as many of you have been to me.

In the near future (details still to be determined), there will be a bit of a change in the project.  The most notable change is that someone else will be contributing to our blog.  Due to additional responsibilities I’m taking on at church, I can’t devote as much time to the weekly posts, so I have asked for help.  The good news is that one of the people who will be taking up the slack in Tony Miano, who founded this group!  It is a great blessing to have Tony participating again, and I’m sure his posts will encourage and edify you.  We may also have other long-time participants writing for the blog going forward.  Stay tuned for more!

This week, our suggested chapter is Isaiah 25.  It is a powerful passage, which highlights the foolishness of trusting in human power, and the wisdom of trusting in God.  It also talks about the great comfort there is in trusting in God’s goodness and grace.  I pray it is a blessing to you, and will have an impact on those who hear it preached.

All for His glory,



As this chapter tells us, the Lord God, the God of the Bible, is a shelter, and a comfort, to those who trust in Him

In chapter 25, Isaiah says “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”

He calls God a stronghold to the poor and to the needy in distress, and a shelter from the storm

I have also seen that, and know it to be true.

There is great comfort and peace in who God is, and in knowing Him.

But God does not only bring peace and comfort.  He is also a God who brings judgment.

Isaiah also says “He made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin.  Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.”

The God of the Bible is a good God, loving and faithful.  But he is also fearful to those who trust in their own strength, or who turn to false gods

We are told the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place.  It is powerless and impotent.

Isaiah says as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.

He says the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill

He also says “the Lord will lay low his pompous pride, together with the skill of his hands.”

And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

All the strength of men, all the edifices they build to exalt and protect themselves, will be cast down, and ground to powder, before God’s strength.

Where have you placed your trust?

Are you trusting in your own strength, and denying God’s existence?

If so, you are only lying to yourself

In our hearts, we all know that God exists.

Romans 1 tells us “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, 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.”

We all know God exists, and only through suppressing that truth can we deny it.

Are you trusting in your own goodness?  Do you think God will let you into heaven because you have tried your best, or are better than your neighbor, or spouse?  Do you think you will get in because you go to church, or give money, or help the poor?

Scripture tells us in Romans 2 that “the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them”

Though we try to ignore it, and deny it, we all know when we sin.  Our conscience bears witness to our sin, and our sin separates us from relationship with God, and brings us under His judgment.

Romans 3:23 tells us all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  I have, and so have you.

Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s law, which was given to us to show us ourselves in truth.

God’s law tells us we should not lie (VERSE).  But we have all lied, including me.

God’s law tells us we should not steal, but every one of us is a thief.  Even if you have stolen something small, whether it is a pen or pencil, an answer on a test, music downloaded from the internet, or 15 minutes on a timecard that you did not work, it still makes you a thief, just like me.

Have you used God’s name in disgust, or in place of a curse word?  If you have used Jesus’ name as an expression of surprise, or said OMG, you have blasphemed God’s name.  God tells us in Exodus 20 that He will not hold him guiltless who misuses His name.

Have you looked with lust at someone who is not your husband or wife?  Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 5 that even a lustful look is adultery in His eyes.

Truly, every one of us has broken God’s law, and is worthy of His judgment.

Ephesians 2 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

That wrath will be carried out in a very real place called hell.  It is a place of fire and darkness and pain, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And there is no escape from hell.  It will last through eternity.

But the same passage that tells us we are children of wrath, also says that there are those who will escape that wrath, by an act of God’s grace

It says “4 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—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

If you will humble yourself before God, turning from your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ alone, you can be saved by the gift of God’s grace.

That grace was provided through the death of Jesus Christ, God the Son, on a Roman cross 2000 years ago.

Jesus came to earth, and lived the perfect life we were called to live, but never could.

Then he was crucified, and when He was on the cross He was crushed under the wrath of the Father.

Isaiah 53 tells us that it pleased the Father to crush Him, for our sake.  It says:
he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

He died.  They three days later, He rose again from the dead, proving who He was, and proving His power over death.

Now he sits at God’s right hand as ruler and judge, but also as our advocate.

If we trust in Him, and in Him alone, then on the day of judgment, we will be seen as pure in His sight.

If you are here today, and are not trusting in Him, I plead with you to turn to Him while He has given you time.

Turn to Christ, and live!  And when you do, you will be able to declare, along with the prophet Isaiah:

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation!