Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7
Pastor Kent Crockett gives this insight on the nature of thankfulness.

One afternoon my wife Cindy called me from the bank where she worked. “The diamond fell out of my wedding ring!” she sobbed. “It broke loose from the ring prongs and I don’t know where it is!”

My mind flashed back two decades, while as a poor seminary student surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheap buffets, I saved $750 to purchase the most beautiful diamond ring in the world for my future wife.

Diamond appraisers wouldn’t describe it that way, of course. Less than half a karat. Small carbon flaw. However, the true worth of a diamond isn’t determined by karats and clarity, but by the love with which it’s purchased.
The chances of finding it were slim to none. We had no earthly idea where it could be hiding. Cindy could have lost it in our house while getting ready for work, at the restaurant where she had gone for lunch, or somewhere in the bank.

Lord, I prayed, You know where Cindy lost her diamond. Please show me where it is.

Immediately I felt prompted to go to the bank parking lot to begin my search. When I arrived, the first place I looked was inside my wife’s minivan. Nothing in there. When I turned around to scan the lot, I saw something glisten. Tiny rocks and small chunks of gravel covered the parking lot. As I drew closer to investigate, my heart leaped when I discovered Cindy’s diamond lying in a crack in the pavement. I snatched up the diamond and ran into the bank lobby holding it high for everyone to see.

“Look—I found it!" I yelled.

Bank customers turned around to find out why I was causing such a commotion. Cindy looked up from behind her teller window, burst into tears, and came running through the lobby into my arms. As we hugged in the middle of the bank in front of the customers, we looked like the final scene of a romantic movie.

Although we hadn't noticed the diamond that morning, it became the center of our attention that evening. We called our friends and relatives to tell them how our lost diamond had been found and then went out to dinner to celebrate.
Our lost diamond incident bore an uncanny resemblance to the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-9). The woman in the parable lost a silver coin, searched diligently, and found it. She was so excited that she called all her friends and neighbors to share her joy. After finding the lost jewel, Cindy and I had unwittingly followed the same script as the woman in the parable.
Had the value of the diamond changed? No.

What had changed? Our perception of its value.

I learned one of the great secrets of thankfulness through this adventure. The value of something isn’t determined by how much it appreciates, but by how much it is appreciated.
Salvation is certainly like that. Once you discover Him you don't want to lose Him. And the longer you walk with Him and live in Him the more valuable He becomes to you. The more you value Him the more thankful you are that you found Him - and He found you!

November 28, 2009

"Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold."
Acts 28:1-2
The Apostle Paul had a difficult life because of his determination to do the will of God. Because he preached and ministered in places and ways that were illegal, he often suffered arrest or harrassment. In fact, several of his epistles were written from prison.
With that in mind, an act of "unusual kindness" had a memorable effect on him. So much so that he noted it in his record of his missionary journeys. The warmth of a fire against a damp chill makes a significant difference. You tend to remember that - and he did. He was thankful.
I believe we tend to underestimate the importance of small acts of kindness - small to us but not so small to the recipient. Often we aschew the little obvious deeds in search of the big dramatic one. Obviously, when you get a chance to do the spectacular deed, go for it. But understand the impact of small deeds done well, or done often or done in a timely fashion.
You could probably tell me if I asked you the last nice thing someone did for you. Can you remember the last act of kindness you extended to someone?
This week I had such a kindness extended to me by someone I barely know. It might not mean much to you but it was significant to me and it made my Holiday week-end extra special. A friend of a friend gave me tickets for the Virginia Tech versus Virginia football game in Charlotesville today. That's $200 worth of tickets generously handed over to me. Nice!
Due to the kindness of this person, Barbara and I got to enjoy Saturday afternoon with 58, 555 of our closest friends in Scott Stadium. It was a great day made even more enjoyable by the fact that the Hokies won!
I would venture a guess that far more people have been won to faith in Jesus Christ by small acts of generosity than by extravagant gifts or exeptional deeds. Small things done well or done often or done at precisely the right moment can have significant impact for the Kingdom of God.
Who are you trying to reach for Christ? What Christian brother or sister are you trying to encourage? Have you considered doing some small thing that might be big for them - and for your influence for Christ?
A simple act of building a camp fire got recorded in the Holy Scriptures and remembered some 21 centuries later! A small thing?
What do you think? What can you do?