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Before the Throne

Mar 25, 2017

W-1668

Do you find it difficult to pray? Do you have trouble believing that God is really hearing you, and that your prayers truly reach his ears? Have you become discouraged about praying because your prayer time seems so dry and unexciting?

I want to share with you a dramatic presentation which highlights an approach to prayer—a way of thinking about prayer—that has helped me immensely. Like most of you, I have struggled with having an effective and consistent prayer time. I just don’t sit still easily, for one thing, and my mind wanders very easily, for another. Years ago I believe God gave me this visual approach to prayer and it has helped me greatly, so that’s why I want to pass it on to others.

Satan, our enemy, will do anything to keep us from praying. He knows that the more effectively we pray, the more power we will have over him and his demons. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to discover that it is sometimes difficult for us to pray, to believe that prayer really works, and to have any excitement and joy in our prayer life.

This mini-drama I’m presenting will require you to stretch your imagination. It comes from my imagination, but it is all based solidly on Scripture. Sometimes we just need word pictures to help us see the unseen things, the things that are only seen with Forever Eyes. That is the purpose of this drama.

You must picture a room of grandeur and opulence never imagined on this earth! This room is absolutely gigantic, and as you enter, your eyes just cannot begin to take it all in. Everywhere you look there are emeralds, pearls, diamonds—every jewel imaginable. And the floor is made of pure gold, gleaming and glorious. The room is so bright it almost blinds you. And all over this enormous room are angels of such beauty and magnificence that they are indescribable. These angels are huge, with wingspans beyond belief, and their garments shine with a dazzling white light. There is a chorus that sings forever in this room—songs you’ve never heard before, more glorious than any sound you could possibly imagine.

In the center of this huge room is a throne which simply defies description! Nothing our human minds could imagine would ever do it justice. It is huge and impressive beyond belief. And all around this throne are myriads and untold numbers of angels praising and guarding the One who sits on the throne, God the Creator.

Now, you must picture me entering this throne room. As I come into the room, my appearance is in stark contrast to everything around. I look like a scruffy kid, without any glory or beauty. I’m so insignificant in comparison to everything else going on in this incredible room that I could easily get trampled on without notice.

But as I start to enter, someone does notice me. It’s the head angel, the one in charge of keeping everything just perfect. He walks up to me and says:

A:   Excuse me, but who are you? I think you must be lost—surely you’re not planning to enter our throne room.

M:  Well, I know that I appear very insignificant and a bit out of place compared to everyone else…but yes, I was planning to enter.

A:   How can you be so presumptuous? What were you going to do in the throne room?

M:  Well, you see, I plan to go right up to the throne and talk to God.

A:   Oh, my, that would be funny if it were not so arrogant on your part. You’re planning to go directly up to the throne and talk to God? My dear, look at you! Do you think God wants to talk to you? He’s very busy you know—and there are many more important things on His agenda today.

M:  Oh, sir, I realize that and I know that it seems entirely inappropriate for me to approach His throne, but you see, He has given me a personal invitation. As a matter of fact, He has said that I may come into His presence anytime I wish, and—you really will have a hard time believing this—He said I could approach His throne with boldness.

A:   With boldness? But look at you. You’re not worthy of being in his presence. Do you see all these angels here—they wouldn’t just walk up to His throne with boldness.

M:  I know, sir, but you see, I’m not an angel, I’m His child.

A:   His child?

M:  Yes, isn’t that incredible? I’m His child. I would have been satisfied to just be one of His worshippers from afar, but he told me that since I accepted his Son as my Savior, I’m no longer an alien, I am now his child. He has told me I can call Him, “Father.”

A:   Father? Can this be true? You would call God, the Creator of the entire universe, whom the angels worship in fear and splendor—you would dare to call him Father?

M:  I recognize how difficult it is to believe that, sir. Frankly, I find it a continual source of amazement myself that he would allow me to call him Father. But not only can I call him Father, he has told me I may call him “Abba Father”—dearest Father, Daddy.

A:   Do you realize how incredible this all is, my dear child? I just can’t imagine why He would allow you such privileges—you, of all people.

M:  Well, sir, let me tell you, it’s not because of anything I’ve done that has made me worthy. As you can see, I’m not very pretty and I have no credits to my account that would make me presentable to God…except for one: I have accepted His Son as my Savior.  When I did that, He gave me this gorgeous robe to wear. Have you noticed my robe?

A:   Well, yes, as a matter of fact it is quite lovely and I wondered how you ever got such a robe.

M:  Well, the robe is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it was a free gift. He just gave it to me. I would never dare try to come into this throne room in my own clothes; they are truly filthy rags. But I wrap myself up in this gorgeous robe of the righteousness of Jesus, and because Jesus is acceptable to God, so am I. You see, God doesn’t see my filthy rags; He only sees this lovely robe of righteousness. I’m so thankful for this robe. Otherwise, I could never enter His presence. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go on up to the throne.

A:   Just one minute. Look at your feet; they’re quite dirty. Are you going with dirty feet?

M:  Well, I realize they look terrible, but you see that’s the part of me that gets dirty when I walk around in the world out there. And Jesus said once I had been cleansed all over, I didn’t need to be cleansed again, except just to have my feet washed. So, one of the first things I do when I get to the throne is ask God to wash my feet. And He always does, so I leave here with really clean feet. Wait and see!

A:   Do you think He’ll recognize you when you get there? Surely He can’t remember your name; you’re just one of millions and millions!

M:  I know, but because he is God, He does know who I am. He always recognizes me right away. He even knows the number of hairs on my head, He counts the times I sit and stand each day, He puts my tears in a jar, He wrote all my days in a book even before I was ever born, and He is intimately acquainted with all my ways.

A:   Why would He want to know the number of hairs on your head or care about everything you do?

M:  Now that question I really can’t answer. I’ve asked Him that many times myself, and He just smiles and says He calls all the stars by name and sees every sparrow that falls, so surely He cares for me. Excuse me, I think He’s waiting for me.

As I begin to walk down that glorious path that takes me up to the throne, the whole room gets quiet. Everyone looks at one another and says, “Who is she? How did she get in here?” But no one can stop me and I walk right up to that throne—yes, even with boldness.

As I get there I look up and say, “God, it’s me, Mary.” He looks down and recognizes me instantly:

G:  Oh, Mary I’m so glad to see you. I was hoping you’d be here soon.

M:  God, I worship you for who you are. I know you’re the Creator and you have all power and strength and wisdom and knowledge. I don’t want to seem presumptuous—and I do fear you with reverence and awe—but I thank you that you’ve made it possible for me to come right up to your throne and talk to you.

G:  Oh, Mary, I delight in your fellowship. Come on up here and sit with me. Let’s spend some time together before you get your busy day started.

I crawl up into that enormous throne, and take my place beside my heavenly Father. I think maybe the angels are even a little envious, because I’m allowed to spend as much time as I like in His presence.

This is my privilege as a child of God; we call it prayer. And we sometimes get confused as to how precious and special is this opportunity given to us—to go boldly into the presence of God, to spend time getting to know Him, and find excitement in the knowledge that He cares for us.

Have you ever thought about your prayer life in this way? Do you have any understanding of how privileged you are to be able to pray? I hope this mind-stretching image I’ve presented today—all based on Scripture—will help you to accept and appreciate who you are in Jesus and how blessed you are to be called a child of God. John said in I John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

We are the children of God! Ask God to show you that incredible truth. Then spend time in his throne room, exercising your marvelous privilege of being in his presence.

Prayer is the way in which God acts in this world; it is his method of exercising power. I encourage you to make prayer a priority in your life. Nothing can change you and your circumstances like prayer.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Mar 24, 2017

Program D-7800

Have you ever had the run-away blues? You probably know what I’m talking about. The run-away blues are those days, those times in your life when you’d just love to run away. When the thought of going to the airport and catching the next flight out to anywhere but where you are, sounds like a really good idea. Run-away blues—who hasn’t experienced that?

David expressed it so well in Psalm 55. He was in a bad place at that time: his enemies were threatening him, his mind was a jumbled mess, his heart was in anguish, and he was frightened. Now mind you, that was the condition of King David, a man after God’s own heart, a man chosen by God to be the King of Israel. I mean, “Come on, David, why would you want to run-away?” But listen to what he wrote:

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” (Psalm 55:6-8)

David, as God’s appointed king, was doing what he was supposed to do, and yet he longed to fly away and be at rest. Are you right now where David was then? Aren’t you glad he was inspired by God to put his feelings in writing and leave them for you to read today? It says that you aren’t condemned for feeling like you want to run away—even kings have those times. Instead, you have a God who cares, and who can bring release and relief for you right where you are.

After expressing his run-away desires and fears to God, David then says this:

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:16-17,22)

I’ve talked about blooming where you are planted, so I wanted to leave you with those words of hope today—words from a king who wanted to fly away from where God had planted him.

Even in the midst of doing what God has called you to do, you can lose your bloom and the enemy can steal your joy. If that’s where you are, just call to God, cry out to him. Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will put a new bloom inside of you; your desert will become a garden where you’re blooming once more, and the joy of the Lord will again be your strength.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Mar 23, 2017

Program D-7799

If you want to be inspired, google “plants that grow in concrete.” You will see amazing pictures of all kinds of flowers and plants that are able to grow in the most difficult and unlikely places. I was totally mesmerized to see lovely flowers growing out of cracks in a sidewalk, beautiful blooms popping up from a pile of old tires—picture after picture of plants that bloomed in the most unlikely and difficult places.

That’s what I’ve been talking about—the challenge each of us faces to make the very best of where we are, blooming where we are planted. The children of Israel were captured and taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, and through the prophet Jeremiah, God told them to bloom right there. You’ll find that story in Jeremiah 29.

But in Psalm 137:1-4, we find this sad passage:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?

Doesn’t sound like they were blooming there in Babylon, does it? Their joy was gone; their song was dead; they had given up because they were in Babylon rather than in Jerusalem. Notice that they had the opportunity to sing the songs of Zion, the songs of the Lord. They could have shared the truth about the one true God with these pagan people, but their response was, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

Maybe that’s where you are today. You’re in some place that you don’t want to be: maybe you’re bored, tired, or totally unmotivated, such that you’ve hung your harp on a poplar tree, so to speak, and quit blooming. I’ve been there; I know how that feels. I want to encourage you today to remember that there is a beautiful bloom inside of you, planted there by our God. If you’ll open a little crack and let his sunshine in, you can bloom again right there! His love will shoot up through that crack and you’ll once again bloom where you are planted.

So, go get that harp you hung up on the poplar tree. By faith—not necessarily by feelings—ask God to give you a song to sing right where you are, a song from the Lord even while you’re planted in that place where you don’t want to be. You can turn your Babylon into a garden full of God’s love when you remember that he loves you, and choose to share his love with everyone around you.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Mar 22, 2017

Program D-7798

“Bloom where you are planted” is not found in the Bible but it certainly is a biblical attitude. There’s a passage in Jeremiah that is a great example of what it means to “bloom where you are planted.” You’ll find it in Jeremiah 29, a letter that the prophet wrote to the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Get the picture? They are God’s chosen people, now refugees, who have been forcibly relocated in Babylon. Here is what Jeremiah wrote to them in verses 4-7:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 Jeremiah didn’t say that they should fight to get back to Jerusalem. He didn’t say they should just get by until God provided a way of escape. He said to make the very best of the situation they were in. This was a foreign culture; there was no temple in Babylon; it was a pagan culture which worshiped many false gods. And yet this is where they found themselves—this is where they were planted.

Notice that God told them that he had carried them into exile, not Nebuchadnezzar. This must have been an amazing statement to them. Their God had brought them to this terrible land? Why would God plant them there? This country was hostile to their way of life, to their beliefs, and to their God. And yet God made it clear that they were to bloom right there in Babylon where he had planted them.

I am reminded that we who are Christ-followers are called foreigners and exiles in this world. Peter writes that we should “live out our time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” (I Peter 1:17) We are planted here and, while we’re here, we need to bloom for Jesus. The exiles in Babylon were to build houses, plant gardens, marry, increase in number, and seek peace and prosperity for the city of Babylon. They were to bloom in Babylon, of all places!

Are you blooming where you are now planted? Or have you allowed the circumstances of life to destroy your will to bloom and to steal your joy? I want to encourage you today to know that God can cause you to bloom in ways you’ve never imagined, if you will be willing to bloom right where you are planted.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Mar 21, 2017

Program D-7797

What does it mean to “Bloom where you are planted”? It begins with the word “bloom” which is a verb—an action word—and it implies that you have to be intentional about this. Blooming means producing something beautiful. So, the first word—bloom—is a directive, something you must do.

Then it says “where you are.” Do you often have the attitude that you would do so well if only you were in other circumstances? A different job, a better house, a more-understanding mate, better- behaved children, enough money, better health—just give you better circumstances, solve some of your problems, and then you can bloom. Instead of “Bloom where you are planted,” you think, “Put me in better soil and then I’ll bloom!”

Some years ago, a good friend was planted in a job where some of her coworkers were unfriendly and prejudicial toward her. Instead of lowering herself to their level, or being angry or vengeful, after much prayer, God led her to begin what she called “Project Love”—an intentional invitation to these coworkers to have lunch with her, and in that way to break down the barriers between them. It wasn’t long before these same people got to know my friend, saw in her the love of Jesus, and soon came to appreciate her. That was the beginning of some long and good friendships! She bloomed where she was.

The last word in this saying is “planted.” Bloom where you are planted. When something is planted, it is placed there intentionally, right? It’s not just a wild flower springing up on a mountainside. Someone has gone to the trouble of preparing a spot, a place, where this seed can be planted. Being planted implies that something outside of itself had a purpose for putting that plant in that place.

You know, where you are now is where God has planted you. Oh, there may have been all kinds of circumstances, good and bad, which have brought you to the spot where you are now planted. But God has this marvelous way of taking us where we are and preparing the soil for us even there, so that we can bloom where we are planted.

Would you even today pause long enough to just thank God for where you are planted? I know, it could be a tough place, but the Bible says to be thankful in all circumstances; so by faith just thank God for where he has planted you and then ask him to help you bloom in that place.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Mar 20, 2017

Program D-7796

I wonder if you know where this is found in the Bible: Bloom where you are planted. Is it in the Psalms? Or maybe Jesus said it? Do you know? Well, the truth is, you won’t find that exact phrase in the Bible, but you will find the principle it teaches very clearly given in Scripture.

When the Apostle Paul said we should learn to be content no matter what our circumstances, he was saying “Bloom where you are planted.” When Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow would take care of itself, he was saying “Bloom where you are planted.” In writing to the Corinthian Christians, Paul said, “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Corinthians 7:17). He was admonishing those new believers to bloom where they were planted.

Recently I had an opportunity to talk with a senior citizen, Betty, in her 80’s, who is blooming where she is planted. Betty is a widow and a mom of three grown children and lots of grandchildren. She is a Jesus-lover from way back, and at this stage in her life, she is finding creative ways to reach out to others with the love of Jesus.

Betty’s husband died after a very long illness where she was his main caregiver, so she spent many years simply taking care of his needs. Now that she lives alone and is still driving, she has found a way to continue to share the love of Jesus with others. She goes to the grocery store every day. She said, “That way I don’t have heavy bags to carry if I just get a few things each day. Then, I just go up and down the aisles of the store to see whom God puts in my path that day.”

Betty uses her daily trips to the grocery store as a way to meet people, to offer encouragement, to pray for people, and to let them know that Jesus loves them. Almost every day she has an opportunity to speak to someone—mostly strangers—and simply offer a moment of caring and concern. She has story after story of the people she has met in this way, and how blessed she is to have this ministry.

Betty didn’t complain about the effects of growing older, or the fact that she was now alone, or the aches and pains that occur as she ages. She is just blooming where she is, bringing joy and a ray of hope to many people who just happen to shop for groceries where she does.

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