I am going in a slightly different direction this week. I am not going to do my in depth digger deeper post this week, as I just don’t have time to write in as much depth this week. I have the privilege of speaking at a men’s conference this weekend and I have been spending a good bit of my time working on my talk. I would appreciate your prayers for my talk which I will give at 1:00 Saturday afternoon. I did want to at least write something this week though. Jerry Ediger read from Hebrews 4 during the confession time this past Sunday. He read verses 14-16 which are below:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jerry mentioned how many of us have gone to other places rather than the throne of grace. Which I thought what Jerry said was so true. I was leading a Bible study in the past and I was critiqued by a couple of the people attending the study at various times. They told me that I was spending too much time talking about the ideal Christian life, when so few of us were actually living that way. The ideal seemed unattainable from where they were at and it was not that helpful to them to talk about the ideal.
Basically this is the ideal that I laid out. I said we should start our days with God. Even if you aren’t a morning person you could at least pray at the start of the day. We should seek to pray without ceasing throughout the day as Paul says to do. We should seek to rejoice in the Lord always as the book of Philippians says. We should seek to live in light of the gospel and live in light of the great love and grace that we have received from God. We should remind ourselves as the song says that no day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in God’s sight. The best I have to offer are these filthy rags and yet God loves me. As we are reminded that all we deserve from God is His wrath and yet His mercies are new every morning, our hearts are softened. We then want to be conduits of His grace to all the people we meet because we realize how much God has forgiven us.
That is basically what I laid out and people were looking at me and thinking there is no way. They were thinking that they were frustrated with their wife that morning and their kids were going crazy and they were dealing with anxiety from work and they lost their temper at a coworker etc. During the confession time this Sunday when Jerry was speaking something just clicked in my mind that will sort of bring all of this together.
One thing that I understood is that we are all sinners and we are all struggling in various ways. As my brother Mark says we all have this dark glass of water that we are carrying around. That dark cup of water represents our struggles, our fears, our anxiety, our anger and frustration. We all have this cup basically every day. Here is the crazy thing. The throne of grace is wide open and we are called to boldly come to the throne of grace to receive mercy. We are called to take that dark murky cup of water and just pour it out at the throne of grace. As Robert Murray M’Cheyne says that if we are feeling sad or frustrated we should: “Go and tell Jesus; spread out your sorrows at his feet. He knows them all; feels for you in them all.” As Jerry was talking this Sunday I realized that so often we take that dark cup of water and we run to so many other places trying to get relief from them. Some people go to alcohol. I remember someone told me that they went to alcohol because it made them forget their sorrows and troubles. The problem with that is that dark water is still there in the morning and it may have gotten darker over night.
We may try and take that dark cup of water to TV shows. So, we go to Netflix and we binge watch a show hoping to relieve our stress and anxiety and sadness. We may go shopping hoping to get rid of this dark glass of water, or we may go to sports, or movies, or other forms of entertainment. While we are doing all of this the throne of grace remains wide open. Let us all run to the throne of grace with our dark murky glasses of water and just pour them out to God at the throne of grace. Let us cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.
Let me share a wonderful story from Stephen Nichols that has been really helpful to me and my prayer life. He writes:
“In June 1730, a handful of Cherokee Indian Chiefs crossed the Atlantic ocean seeking an audience with King George II. They first appeared in court at Kensington Palace. They were there to sign treaties, to present their grievances against the French, and to petition the king for aid and support. They had to wait in the lobby for days, returning again and again until the king granted them an audience. They were finally granted their opportunity to present their petitions. Custom dictated that the king would signify his acceptance of their petition by giving them gifts. King George II gave the Cherokee clocks.
They were fine clocks, no doubt. Any English nobleman would be honored beyond words to have such a gift, and he would be just as sure to display the clocks prominently. But these Cherokee had no idea what these clocks were and had no use for them whatsoever. It’s not even clear that they took the clocks home with them as they crossed the Atlantic on their return to the colonies. History is clearer on what became of the treaties King George II made with the Cherokee.
How opposite is prayer to the almighty God, sovereign King of the universe. We do not need to board a ship and travel thousands of miles and wait for days in a grand entrance hall. And when we do get an audience with this King, he does not give us clocks. He graciously grants to us exactly and precisely what we need. And we know that his promises are sure. He does not break treaties.
The journey of prayer is actually far more costly than a transatlantic trip. Our journey of prayer into the presence of God cost the precious blood of Christ, God’s Son. Christ’s sacrifice grants us entrance to the Father’s court. Christ’s sacrifice grants us the good favor of receiving the King’s gifts: the gift of participating in his kingdom, the gift of seeing God’s will come to pass, the gift of forgiveness of sins, the gift of protection from temptation, the gift of deliverance from evil, and even the gift of daily bread. Why would we want to be a people or a church or an age characterized by neglecting the gift of prayer?”
Let us always remember that: “Our journey of prayer into the presence of God cost the precious blood of Christ, God’s Son. Christ’s sacrifice grants us entrance to the Father’s court.” The throne of grace is wide open and it cost the precious blood of Christ. Let us not stay away from the throne of grace too long, but let us continually come to the throne of grace. Let us continually pour out our fears, and anxiety’s, our hurts and our pains, and let us remember to pour in the crystal clear water of the gospel and the promises of God.
Mark and I were with Jerry Ediger this past Saturday and he told us this wonderful story about his daughter Maggie who is 6 years old. Jerry who has suffered a great deal in his life was recently dealing with more physical suffering. He said that his daughter asked him what was wrong and if he was having nightmares. Jerry said no it wasn’t nightmares. She then said was it bad thoughts? Jerry said yes it was bad thoughts. Maggie said: “I know what you need Dad. You need Jesus and you need the promises of God!” Amen Maggie! We need to go to Jesus at the throne of grace and we need to remind ourselves of the precious promises of God.
Picture from here