Pray BIG Prayers – Sin

Sin is not a popular word really, is it? It’s often associated with some Bible-wielding angry-faced shouty-street preacher. You know the type; perhaps wearing a sandwich board and shouting about how you are going to hell if you don’t repent and turn to Jesus in faith to save you from the consequence of your sin. Whilst they are actually 100% correct in what they are teaching, their delivery can often turn people away.

Sin means, in the Bible, to miss the mark. Think archery. You’ve aimed at the bullseye but yet your arrow flies somewhere miles past the target or falls limply between you and the intended target. You’ve missed the mark. In Christian-ese language then, sin is to miss the mark set by God’s Holy and perfect standard. To be really frank, we are all sinners (Romans 3.23). Whether we know it or not, whether we sin intentionally or not, sin has a consequence (Numbers 15.22-31, Hebrews 9). So, you have sinned, I have sinned, we have sinned. Have, do, and will. 

Today’s BIG prayer then is about sin and is twofold. First, for our eyes to be opened to where we are unintentionally sinning. Second, a heartfelt and sincere thanks that there is opportunity for them to be covered, cleansed, and the consequences cast upon One who bore them.

Father, would you show me where in my life I am missing the mark. Show me through the complete and comprehensive teachings and revelation of your Word. Show me where am I erring from your good and perfect plan for my life.

I thank you that even those sins which I am unaware of are graciously forgiven at the cross, where He who knew no sin became sin in order that I may be righteous in your eyes. 

Titus 2.11-14 – Underscored with Grace

Having spent much time exhorting different groups towards the character referenced in 1.6-9, Paul now underscores and underlines the whole thing with a powerful statement about grace.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 2.11-14

We see a few powerful things about the grace of God.

First, it brings salvation for all people. All people. Period. None have works required of them. None have grace + anything else. The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.

Second, it trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.

It trains us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

It trains us to wait for our blessed hope which is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

It trains us. This carries the meaning of the training given from parent to child; lovingly guiding, correcting, confronting, and encouraging. Everything Paul has told Titus to teach up to now, and everything Paul will tell Titus to teach from now is rooted in the grace of God

Today then, just pause and think – where is the grace of God training me? What am I being lovingly guided through? What is our loving Father in heaven guiding me through?

It is finished

Today’s Last Word is also the Scripture we will look at on Good Friday at Saar Fellowship. We would love you to join us for church online this Friday at 10am Bahrain time (GMT+3).

A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19.29-30

A lot of people are caught up in works-righteousness, whether they know it or not.

If I could just…go to…do…say…be…then that would be enough…

The last word here is one of completion, utter completion. It is finished means exactly that, it is complete, totally complete. It is finished means that there is no more work to do to be reconciled to God, there is no more work to do to pay the debt that our sin has accumulated. It is finished means that there is nothing to be done anymore. 

Friend, there is nothing left for you to do but believe; not go, do, say, or be. Believe in Him. Believe Him when he said “It is finished“. This was not the exasperated cry of a criminal getting what their deeds deserve, this was a triumphant shout of victory. In the original language of the New Testament, it’s one word,

Τετέλεσται

‘Te-tel-es-tai’ = It is finished.

It means the bill has been paid in full, literally. Rest in this truth!

Can I Be Right Before God?

Yesterday our big question was why go on? Today, a question posed by Eliphaz (4.1),

‘Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?

Job 4.17

Eliphaz seems to think that somewhere down the line Job has sinned (4.7), and that everything that is happening to Job must be the result of some sin he may have forgotten. As with yesterday, there is such a degree of demonic deception going on here; ‘can you ever really be ok with God? Sure Job, you are ‘blameless’, whatever that means, but come on, you must have done something, can you really be in the right before God? Can you really be pure before Him?

The Word of God that we carry in our Bibles tells us really clearly that left to our own devices, trying to earn and work our way to Him, that the best we can do is as good as filthy rags, as strong and sure as leaves blown away in the wind (Isaiah 64.6).

So, can we be right before God?

There is a simple answer to this with profoundly deep and complex workings – yes you can by faith in Jesus.

Ours is a faith that is so simple in practice but complex in understanding. Maybe you have friends who practice another religion and it seems to complex in it’s adherence but very simple in premise.

‘We are all trying to climb the same mountain’ they may say. Have you ever tried to climb a mountain? It’s hard. It’s tough. Unlike the mountains of this world, the metaphorical mountain of the Lord that represents right standing before Him can never be climbed alone so no, Eliphaz, no mortal man can be right before God, no human can be pure before his maker.

Thankfully, we serve a God who loves us so much that He knows this and He took action to fix this problem. Rather than watch us try to climb the mountain, He came down and will take us up with Him. He has the ability to climb what we cannot.

We have the opportunity to be right before God, we have the chance to be pure before our maker if we put hope, and trust, and faith in Jesus alone to accomplish this (Romans 3.28, 5.1, Habakkuk 2.4, Genesis 15.6, Galatians 2.16, 3.24). 

Can I be right before God?

Yes, you can. 

Alone you will never do this. Alone you will never be good enough. That’s the bad news. Accept this. But, don’t dwell on this, because there is Good News, there is the Gospel. Jesus, who is eternally good enough, gives you the opportunity to be right before God. When looking at you who have faith in Jesus, God sees you through this lens, He sees the righteousness and the purity and the perfection of Jesus and treats you the same. Amazing.

Can I be right before God? Yes, you can. 

Who Are We?

This is the first big question that we encounter in Job. If you didn’t read our introduction to Job yesterday, you can do so here

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1.8-12

The first big question is about our identity – who are we?

God gives a pretty good character reference for Job, doesn’t He? Job is described as a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. However, the Accuser, Satan, basically says ‘OK, well, Job is only like that because you have prospered him. I bet if you take all of that away, his real character will come out and he is not so great.’

So, our identity. Are we willing to take God at His Word and see ourselves as His children, redeemed, ransomed, forgiven, loved unconditionally, blameless in His eyes, justified in His eyes through our faith in Jesus?

The alternative is that we try to forge our own identity on the shifting sands of the culture we live in, how we feel about this or that, or what other people say about us. In Job’s case, that was the Accuser saying that he was not all that, that he was loyal to his blessings, and that he was in this walk with the Lord for what he could get out of it, not because of his firm faith that God is good. 

Where we look for identity, for belonging, for security, for acceptance, for love will impact hugely how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about the world around us, and how we interact with it. I would encourage you to look to the truths of God’s Word to see who He says you are.

Today, consider these truths from the Word about who you are.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1.3-10

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1.9-13