ALWAYS BE THANKFUL
Excerpts from a diary of a dog.
8:00 am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9:30 am – Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!
9:40 am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!
10:30 am – Oh boy! Car ride! My favorite!
12:00 pm – Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
1:00 pm – Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
3:00 pm – Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!
7:00 pm – Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
11:00 pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my masters bed! My favorite!
Excerpts from a diary of a cat.Day 281 of My Captivity
My captors continue to torture me with strange little hanging objects. They happily eat fresh meat, but I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the little satisfaction I get from destroying the furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant.
Today my attempt to kill my captors by walking around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded. Maybe I should try this at the top of the stairs.
In an attempt to show I don’t like them, I once again vomited on their favorite chair - must try this on their bed. I caught a mouse – separated its head from its body. Dropped it at their feet. I wanted to make them aware of what I am capable of. However, they merely made comments about what a "kitty cat I was"! Hmm, this is not working according to plan.
There was some sort of gathering in their family. I was placed away in a separate room throughout the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. More important, I overheard that I was kept in a separate area from my captors because of my powers called "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are spies. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a stupid dog. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an real spy. He speaks with the humans regularly, and I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait. It's only a matter of time..............
The day of the dog. The day of the cat. The dog is content, the cat is not. Dog at peace. The cat at war. One is grateful, the other complaining. Same house, same circumstances. Same master, but two entirely different attitudes. Which diary reads most like yours?
If your private thoughts were to be heard, how often will we hear, oh boy, my favorite. Of boy! Sabbath, my favorite. Oh boy! traffic jam! My favorite. Oh boy! tax day! My favorite.
What is the secret to having a thankful and grateful day? All you have to do is accept the counsel of Jesus, the words of Christ, for having a grateful day. This is how you do it. Fill yourself with His Grace, entrust to his Oversight, accept his Direction. Grace, oversight, direction: G.O.D. Fill each day with God.
Every day we begin with grace because that’s how Jesus began his day. He began with grace and he offers grace.
Because of grace. He will take your mistakes and plunge them into his mercy if you truly repent. He will take you guilt and wash it away with his grace. And you can saturate or fill every day with his forgiving grace and empowering grace. When you do and when you accept his forgiveness and power, your complaining become expressions of gratitude.
Gratitude is the correct response of the forgiven. Now gratitude is so important because when there was no gratitude, it surprised Jesus. Yes, Jesus was surprised. We know this because of the ten men he healed.
Luke 17:11-19 It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”. 14-16 Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. 17-19 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”
Lepers – society stayed away from them. Leviticus 13:45 explains the plight of a leper. 'If a person has a skin disease that spreads, he must warn other people by shouting, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ His clothes must be torn at the seams, he must let his hair stay uncombed, and he must cover his mouth. That person will be unclean the whole time he has the disease; he is unclean. He must live alone outside the camp.
Society did not have compassion on lepers but Jesus had compassion. Now who would know their pain more than Jesus, right?
Now, He too was abandoned by his friends. He was left to die outside the city. He was infected not with leprosy but the weight of our sin and guilt. Just as the people turned away their faced from lepers, God himself turned his face from his Son, so that his Son will feel the full force of our punishment and pay our price.
Jesus understood. When the people stepped back from the lepers, Jesus took a step forward and he heard their cry. He said this; go and show yourself to the priest and they went. While they were still on their way, they became clean. They were cleansed because they obeyed. There was no medicine; there was no therapy, just one prayer to one man Jesus and complete healing. Can you imagine how these lepers felt?
If you are in Christ, you can, because what Christ did for them, he did for you and is doing for you. You said have mercy on me and he did. The guilt and punishment of sin is gone. The rags of your mistakes have been removed; his robes of righteousness have been wrapped around you and you were spiritually made whole. Jesus still heals disease. He gives victory over sins. But those who have been healed from sin and diseases still forget to say thank you.
Look at the question Jesus asked? When one of them was healed he went back to Jesus praising God in a loud voice. Then he bowed at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him. Jesus said, weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other 9? Is this Samaritan the only one who came back to God? Even Jesus is astonished why they didn’t return? We know don’t we why they didn’t come? We know because we know our hearts.
Where the other 9?
Oh, some are too busy to be thankful. They intend to go back and say thank you. They really do. But first they got to go and see the family. And then their family wants to have a party. And then they want to visit their doctors. One thing leads to another. By the time they get around, oh Jesus knows how I feel. He is probably gone by now. They are too busy to be thankful.
Others are too cautious to be thankful. You know, you have to guard against joy. Keep your hopes down. Don’t know if this disease will come back. They are too cautious.
Others are too self fish and self centered to be thankful. They are not sure if they are thankful. Because now they have been healed. The sick life was ok. People throwed them food, coins. Now they have to get a job. Now they have to get on with life.
Others are just proud. After all they never were that infected. I mean given enough time they would have recovered. Besides, to be grateful is to admit to be needy. Who wants to do that when you have an image to protect?
So some are too busy, some too cautious, some self centered, some too proud.
The message of the story is this. God notices the grateful heart. He took note of that Samaritan leper who came back. And his story made into scripture. When you say thank you to God, he hears. When you earnestly plead with God, he hears.
Jesus remembered the poor widow who gave the only coin she had. He took note of the women at the cross. Gestures of gratitude matter to Jesus. Why? Are his feelings hurt if we don’t thank him? Does he have an ego problem? No, you do and I do.
Can we like that leper have a grateful heart? We can. How do we do it?
First, we need to major in the grace of God. University students talk about majoring. What do you major in? Major in English and major in business. That’s your primary subject of study. That’s where you really want to focus. I would like to encourage to let the grace of God be your primary area of study. Spend much time beneath the cross of Christ. Spend a thoughtful hour each day focusing on how Jesus redeemed us.
Read and reread the subjects of forgiveness and redemption. Be amazed by the power therein. Focus on the grace of God. That’s what Paul told timothy to do. 'You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus'. 2 Timothy 2:1
Focus on the grace of God everyday. That has to be your thought process. Your focus.
Second, measure the gifts of God.
Count God’s blessings. Collect his kindness. Gather reasons for your gratitude. Recite them. Paul says, 'Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus', 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful, pray continually, always be thankful. Gratitude is always an option. It is always a choice.
Here’s true story. One day a father received a phone call from his daughter saying that her brand new bicycle had been stolen right there in the school yard. The father expected his daughter to be worried and shattered. He expected the daughter to be crying, instead, she was beaming through the phone, she was so happy, she said daddy, 'Out of all the bikes they could have stolen, they took mine'. Gratitude is always a choice.
It always is. It was for Mathew Henry. This famous Presbyterian scholar was robbed by thieves. His purse was taken. On the day, he wrote these words in his diary.
Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, my all was not much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Can you not find any reason to thank God? Is every situation so desperate that there is no room for gratitude?
You can do if you major in the grace of God. If you measure God’s blessings. If spirit of ingratitude and complaint is rising up in your mind, stand against it. Resist the devil. Draw to God. Turn your mind back to the great grace God has given.
Do not be like the 9 who refused to say thank you, but be numbered among the one who did. And who knows you may find yourself saying things like, Oh boy, traffic jam, my favorite. Oh boy! Final exams! my favorite. You may say it may not happen. How do you know? How do you know? That will happen if you give every day fully to Jesus. All things are possible with Jesus!