China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

You rarely say thank you for the things you expect

Do you know someone who constantly asks you for things? It could be anything. Help with work. Information on a topic of interest. Something personal. Something big. Something small. We all have those people in our lives who ask us for things. And, let’s be honest, it’s kind of nice to be asked for things.

It’s nice to be able to serve as a source of wisdom or intelligence. It’s nice to be considered an expert on something. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, maybe. That’s what it feels like to me–that maybe all the random stuff jangling around in my head has a use.

I like to help people. I like to offer helpful information or funny stories. I like to be the person who has the answers. And I don’t mind being the one who always helps other people. But there are times when I get tired of it. And the one thing all those times have in common is how the person I’m helping responds.

Helping ungrateful people stinks.

You’ve helped an ungrateful person before, haven’t you? You do your best for them. You sacrifice time and effort to help them achieve their goal, and they don’t thank you. Or they don’t even acknowledge that you’ve done anything for them. Or, even if they thank you, they don’t mean it–and you can tell they don’t mean it.

It’s those people I get tired of helping, not because I want attention or adoration but because gratitude is right. But that gets me thinking about my own behavior. Do I thank people when they do nice things for me? Do I make sure they understand how much I appreciate their time and effort on my behalf?

Today’s verses are Luke 17:11-19.

China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Do you ever find yourself in that position? Not with leprosy per se but faced with an issue you can’t overcome on your own. You don’t have to search hard for trouble. Trouble just happens naturally, and before you know it, those little troubles can become overwhelming.

That’s when we turn to God. We cry out for God to help us. We make bargains and promises, and most of the time, God does what we ask.

Then what? What do you do when God answers your prayer? How do you react? Are you stunned speechless? Do you stare blankly? Do you throw a party to celebrate? Do you run out and tell everyone about your good luck?

I think that’s what happened with these guys Jesus healed on the road. Ten of them. Lepers. It was a horrible disease that required them to leave their families and live in colonies of similarly infected people. And just like that, Jesus healed them. Nine of them ran off rejoicing. I’m sure they knew what had happened. I’m sure they realized who had healed them. But Jesus is God, right? Isn’t that what He’s supposed to do?

So often I think we jam God and Jesus into this little box. He’s the God of Creation. Yes, nice title. He’s the Maker of Everything. Also nice title. But what can He do for me? God is the Great Physician. The Great Healer. That’s what He does. He brings the dead to life, He forgives sins, He works all things together for our good, yada yada yada.

That’s what we expect from God, isn’t it?

The problem is when you expect something from someone, you don’t feel the need to thank them. You don’t thank a taxi driver for taking you from point a to point b, do you? You don’t thank your barber for cutting your hair? Granted, if you’re polite, you do. But you see where I’m going, don’t you?

Those nine men knew who Jesus was, and they expected Him to heal them. And that’s awesome. If 21st century Christians could grasp that concept, we’d all be a lot better off. They knew who Jesus was and they expected Him to do the impossible. But the one understood something that the nine didn’t.

God doesn’t owe us anything.

You realize that, don’t you? God isn’t beholden to us. We don’t deserve anything He does for us. The prayers He answers He does out of the goodness of His heart, not because He must. He answers our prayers and directs our lives and helps us through difficulty because He wants to.

So if you don’t like helping someone because they don’t show gratitude, how do you think God feels when we treat Him the same way?

Being like the nine is just step one. Recognize who God is. Believe He can do the impossible. Yes. But there’s a difference between expecting Him to do great things and believing you deserve it.

So the next time God does something for you, sure, go celebrate. Go tell everybody about it. Make sure the whole world knows how awesome God is. But before all that, stop. And just say thank you. You don’t have to put on a show. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just thank Him.

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Cement frog spitting water at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

God does great things for grateful people

How often do we ask God for thing? If you’re like me, it’s all the time. I usually try to keep an open line of communication with Him all day long, kind of like He’s a friend walking right beside me who I can tell anything. And while I know what the format for prayer is, sometimes I just like to talk to Him.

But what I can’t seem to get used to is how to react when He answers my prayers. Have you ever been there? You ask God for something, and He responds almost immediately? It’s at those times that I really don’t know what to do or how to respond.

Cement frog spitting water at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Cement frog spitting water at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verses are Luke 17:11-19.

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

I try not to get my hopes up when I ask God for big things. I believe that He will answer and give me what I’m asking for in His time and in His way, but I usually expect that time to be later and that way to look completely different than what I expect. But every now and then He gives me exactly what I ask for exactly when I ask for it.

It’s then that I need to remember to thank Him. That’s the response I need to have. And I just want to take a moment to do that this morning.

I’ve been praying that the workshop I was attending would be successful and it was, on many many levels. Those of you who know me very well know I struggle with self-confidence, especially when it comes to my writing. But God went out of his way at this workshop to show me over and over and over again that I’m exactly where He wants me and that the things I’ve written are truly things that can be used for Him. I talked to people I didn’t know. I put myself out there for everyone to see, and I wasn’t afraid. And I learned a lot and gained more confidence than I expected. That’s exactly what I was praying for, and that’s exactly what I got.

And I want to thank God for answering that prayer. He didn’t have to, but I’m so glad He did.

What prayer has God answered in your life recently? I’m sure He’s answered something, whether you realize it or not. Don’t be like the nine healed men who went away healed and forgot to acknowledge Who had healed them. Be like the one who came back. Thank God for what He’s done.

God likes to do great things for grateful people.

Waterfall in Sedgwick County Zoo Jungle Exhibit - Wichita, KS

You can’t thank Him enough

Do you ever wake up and just feel the need to be thankful? I don’t know about you, but I get caught up in all the picky little details of life so often. You’d think maybe I’d know better by now, but it seems to be instinctive. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. It’s so easy to stress out over things I can’t control. And then, when I get my head back on straight, I look back and wonder what I was thinking when I was freaking out over nothing.

This is one of those mornings where I can clearly see how much I fret over things that I can’t control anyway, and I wonder what’s wrong with me. And I marvel at how patient God is with me, especially when I always go back and pick up the same worries I promise to lay down.

So today, I just want to spend some time being thankful, readjusting my perspective. Honestly, that’s what being thankful is–understanding that someone has done something for you that they didn’t have to do and recognizing it.

God is so good to me, so patient and so kind. He’s given me so much, and He’s got big plans. And that’s not just the case for me, but for everyone. And it’s easy to forget because the important things God has for us to hear are often said in that still, small voice, and that still, small voice can get lost in the loud, noisy chaos of ordinary life. And we need to slow down and be quiet if we want to hear it.

If you feel like you need to say thanks to God, do it. If you feel like you don’t need to? … Do it anyway. Because you still need to. And after a few moments of thanking Him for what He’s done, I’m willing to bet that you’ll move from needing to thank Him to wanting to thank Him, especially after you really see everything He’s done for you.

Waterfall in Sedgwick County Zoo Jungle Exhibit - Wichita, KS

Waterfall in Sedgwick County Zoo Jungle Exhibit – Wichita, KS

Psalm 138 (The Message)

 Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
   I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
      and say it again: “Thank you!”
   Thank you for your love,
      thank you for your faithfulness;
   Most holy is your name,
      most holy is your Word.
   The moment I called out, you stepped in;
      you made my life large with strength. 

 When they hear what you have to say, God,
      all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”
   They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
      “How great the glory of God!” 
   And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;
      no matter the distance, he knows everything about us. 

 When I walk into the thick of trouble,
      keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
   With one hand
      strike my foes,
   With your other hand
      save me.
   Finish what you started in me, God.
      Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.