Monday, November 21, 2011

Where's My Pie?

Carol wanted to do something nice for her neighbor Mrs. Smith, so she baked a pie and carried it next door. When Mrs. Smith opened the door, she was surprised to see her holding a pie. She replied, "For me? Oh, thank you so much! You just don't know how much I appreciate it! You are so thoughtful for doing this! Thank you!"

Because Mrs. Smith liked the pie so much, Carol decided the next week to bake another one. When she took it over, Mrs. Smith opened the door and said, "Thank you so much. You are so kind!"

She took another pie over the following week, and Mrs. Smith simply replied, "Thanks."
Carol took another pie over the next week and Mrs. Smith responded, "You are a day late with that pie."

The following week she baked her another pie. This time her neighbor said, "Try using a little more sugar and don't bake it quite as long. The crust has been a little bit hard lately. And next time, I want cherry filling. Did it ever occur to you that I might be getting tired of apple?"

The next week Carol was so busy, she wasn’t able to cook for her neighbor. When Carol passed walked her house on the way to the store, Mrs. Smith stuck her head out the window, yelled, "Where's MY PIE?!"

It's easy to take our blessings for granted, isn't it? When God keeps sending blessings to us, we start thinking that we deserve them. Instead of being thankful, we start complaining. The process happens so slowly we don't realize that it's happening to us.

Jesus healed ten lepers but only one returned to thank Him (Luke 17:12-19). If you were to ask the nine lepers who didn't return if they were thankful for being healed, they would probably say, "Of course we're thankful." But we know that they weren't!  Most people don't view themselves as ungrateful.

My question to you is, "Are you thankful for what God has done for you?" You will probably say, "Yes." My next question is, "How many times did you thank God yesterday?" Twenty times? Thirty times? None?  True thankfulness is always expressed through words, deeds, and gifts. Using those three things, let God know how thankful you are, starting right now.  God loves to be thanked!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Diamonds in the Sewer

Roy Parrino has a job that you probably wouldn't like. Roy works in a sewer, where he helps clean out 650 miles in the Los Angeles area. Parrino says, "You really have to psych your mind up for it. You're going into the filthiest environment there is. It's like being inside a big toilet." How can a person who works in a sewer get excited about going to work every day?

The first day on the job, Roy climbed out of the sewer holding a 2-carat topaz ring that he had found. But that's not all. Parrino has found gold necklaces, bracelets, and even diamond rings while working in the sewer. When Roy goes down into the sewer, he starts looking for diamonds!

Maybe you think that the job where you work, or some person that you know, is like being in a sewer. God has placed diamonds and every sewer and it's your job to find them! There's good and bad in every situation, and you get to choose what you'll focus on. When the cameraman inside your heart zooms in on your blessings, you will give thanks. When the camera zooms in on your problems, you'll complain.

The Scripture says, "In everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:18). Many people think that "God's will" is finding the right job, the right house to buy, or the right person to marry, but none of those things can be blessed without having the right attitude. It's God's will for us to have a thankful attitude--every day, all day long.  It grieves the Holy Spirit when we complain when we're surrounded by blessings.

God wants you to search for the diamonds in your situation, even it's in a sewer. Seeing the good in your situation and giving thanks to God is what He wants to hear from you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Love Me, I Love Me Not

To love self, or not to love self. That is the question. Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). He says to love yourself. I love me.
Jesus also said, "If anyone come to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Here He says to hate yourself. I love me not.

When we read these verses that seem to contradict each other, it makes us wonder, "Should I love me, or love me not?" If God loves me, shouldn't I love me? And here's another question. If Jesus commands us to love everyone, including our enemies, why is He now telling us to hate our next of kin?

In those days, the word "hate" didn't always mean to stop loving someone. The word "hate" is an idiom or expression of preference, where one person is preferred over another. Jesus said no one can serve two masters because he will hate the one and love the other (Luke 16:13), which means to prefer one over the other.  Likewise, when the Scripture says to hate self, it means to hate selfishness, not the person that God created you to be. To "die to self" means to stop selfishness, not commit suicide.

A prison chaplain told me that prisoners commit crimes because they hate themselves. He said, "If they don't respect themselves, why would they respect others?" He teaches them that God loves them and so they can love themselves, and in turn love others.  Jesus created you and died for you so that you can be with Him forever. It only makes sense that it's right to love yourself as God loves you.