It has been said the Old Testament is the New concealed and the New Testament is the Old revealed. I am currently reading through the entire Bible this year, which continues to be an amazing experience. We can glean tremendous insight meditating on the word of God. I am finding, filtering Old Testament Scripture through the cross of Christ brings refreshment and revelation. I am currently in the process of completing the book of Nehemiah and now that I am several books into the Bible I see a reoccurring theme, which prompted me to ask a few questions within myself. The first question is regarding prayer. I asked within myself, am I coming to God with all the things I want Him to do for me rather than enjoying Who He Is and being grateful to be in His presence?
I realize sometimes when I pray if I'm honest, it turns out to be a laundry list of needs and desires. Don't get me wrong, God loves us and enjoys providing for our needs, but we should remember He has already given us the best: Himself. I noticed in the prayers recorded in the book of Nehemiah, there is reverent worship of God for Who He Is in the opening of the prayers. I mention this, not to create a religious pattern but to fan the flame, encouraging us to see prayer as an intimate place of communion with God where we sit in His presence seeing and enjoying Him.
I think it's extraordinary, that Nehemiah gave glory to God before entering into the issues he and the children of Israel were facing. I wonder how our lives might change if, when we pray, we remember first and foremost the greatness of our God, keep ever-present He is our God and Father. Let that sink deep into your soul; He is our God and our Father. A continuous consciousness of God as our Father reshapes our perspective of Him in our lives. Jesus posed the question in Matthew 7v11, “if you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”
Sweet friend, God so loved us, He sent Jesus so that we would know Him. He has already moved on our behalf before we ever asked. Have you ever considered the weight of this truth? I am taking some time to relish these beautiful thoughts of Abba towards us. Before we ever looked at Him, He died for us. Jesus came that we would see God in human flesh and experience His love. Jesus has given us the privilege to become children of God and the right to call upon Him not only as God but as Father (John 1v17).
Beloved, we come to Him in faith. He is good, covenant-keeping, full of compassion, and mercy. And because of Who He Is and all that He has done for us, we are provided intimate access to Him. May the truth saturate our spirits and overflow our being. We have access to God. The One who flung the stars in the sky and calls them by name; who bottles our tears and knows every hair on our head. The God who created us for Himself and for His glory. Let us, therefore, take time as we pray to simply enjoy Him, allowing His goodness to shape our prayers into opportunities of thankfulness, praise, and blessing.
Sin Consciousness vs Forgiveness Consciousness
The second question I was challenged to consider during my study, is when I pray am I sin conscious or in awe of God’s greatness, love, and grace? I realized that sometimes when I would come to God in prayer I can be consumed with my faults and failings, rather than on the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.
In the Old Testament people were conscious of their sins throughout their prayers, and rightfully so; they were under the Law. An impartation of revelation is seen within the prayers of Nehemiah as we frame them through the lens of the cross. We see how the sins of the Nation are woven throughout these prayers but we also see God's grace is greater than sin, that in every instance, because God is good, He is righteous, and for His glory, He intervened throughout their disastrous history.
I am not pointing the finger at the children of Israel, since their plight, is an example of all of humanity’s unwillingness and unfaithfulness to God over the ages. However, I do want to point out The Law served a unique purpose, which is to bring man to the end of himself and demonstrate our need for Jesus. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”Galatians 3v24. Now, that Christ has come there has been a change. When we pray, as believers in Christ Jesus, we come from a completely different position.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes all the difference “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.”Hebrews 10:1-2. I think we are prone to read over verse 10v2 quickly not allowing the truth to sink in. Please take time to allow the blood of Jesus to release you from coming to Him conscious of sins rather than conscious of the efficacy of His blood, being thankful for the forgiveness of sins.
Accepting the free gift of God's forgiveness does not give us the license to sin but makes us eternally grateful for what Jesus has done. The truth that continues to set people free is accepting the free gift of God's grace by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Salvation clears the slate forever. We don't start off by grace and then end by works. We begin and end in Grace.
A relationship with Jesus changes everything, beloved. All of our sins, past, present, and future have been paid for by the blood of Jesus. This doesn’t mean we don’t confess our sins but the reason for our confession has changed. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1v9. When individuals do not know God, they have very different ideas of Who He Is. Before we know Jesus and what He has done for us when we come before a Holy God we are undone. This can sometimes make people afraid to come to Him because of sin, and without the ministry of reconciliation as the bridge, people stray away from God rather than God.
But Oh, how we run to Him when we are aware of His love. When we come to God in prayer, we come boldly because we have been forgiven of our sins. When we come in prayer, our conscious is clear (Hebrews 10v2), not because we are good or perfect but because the sacrifice of Jesus is perfect. We are covered by the blood of Jesus and come before the throne of God not with self-righteousness but adorned in the righteousness of Christ. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”Hebrews 10v19-23. The faith we trust in is not that we will be faithful but that Jesus is faithful in every way!
As we come to God, we come through a new and living way. We are coming through Jesus Christ; the more we come to Him ~ the more we live. We come before our Father believing our prayers are heard since we are in Christ, He is our High Priest. And we are confident as God the Father loves Jesus, He also loves us. “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”John 17v23.
How does this look practically?
We shape our prayers in light of the cross. When we pray we are coming as beloved children of God, covered by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, we see Jesus in all of His majesty, conscious of what He has done on our behalf. We come forgiveness conscious with a fresh revelation of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Let’s strengthen our resolve honoring God in prayer coming boldly with an expectancy because He so loves us. He is good, faithful, and worthy of our trust. Remember, Jesus is our High Priest, therefore our prayers are sweet-smelling incense before the throne of our God and Father. As they rise, our prayers are sprinkled with all the loveliness of Christ.
“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Hebrews 9v14. We come to the living God in Spirit and in truth. We serve out of His love for us, not to get Him to love us. Our actions are an overflow of His Person and work in us.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,”Colossians 2v13. ALL our sins have been forgiven. Amazing grace, it is the Father's love that wrecks us for anything less; walking with a consciousness of the blood of Jesus (forgiven) is the power that transforms our minds, will, emotions, and next.
We are grateful for Your love, in awe of Your tender mercies and grace. You are awesome and full of wonder. Help us to live conscious of the finished work of Jesus on the cross and come to Your throne of grace with boldness. Help us to seek Your face early and often trusting Your good plan for our lives. You are a Good Father. Help us to love you and others in truth. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.
How has the finished work of Jesus changed your life?
How will the completeness of His forgiveness and love change your next?