Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

June 30, 2017

Have you ever considered that happiness is an inside job? If we are not happy on the inside it is insane to think that something from outside of us will instantaneously make us happy.

            I worry sometimes because I feel it is very easy for any of us to slide into a mode of old-school negative thinking. How many times have we said, “I can’t win for losing?”

            Haven’t we also said, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all?”   What about the lament, “Everything happens to me?”

            Let’s toss in a couple more: This is a tough old world! Life isn’t fair! The other guy always gets the break!

            And, yes indeed I am guilty!   Most likely I have uttered all of those phrases at one time or another in my life.

            Do not get me wrong, I am not advocating a Pollyanna -ish relationship with life or quoting Doris Day either (Que sera sera).

            I am saying that we are what we are because of our thinking. And, old-school negative thinking is like reaching out for abundance with a closed fist.

            Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16:24b NIV).” To me this does not sound like a savior who uses negative thinking as a strategy.

            To help us along with this motif, let’s chat about mammon.

            Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24 KJV).”

            Some Bible translations use the word money instead of mammon but the meaning is the same. The active word is serve.

            It is what we serve that matters.   Money or mammon has no power other than what we decide to attach.

            Both money and mammon can be ascribed as any earthly thing that creates an attitude of greed transforming us into thinking that prosperity equals possessions.

            It is not mammon that keeps us from God’s kingdom. It is the thoughts we hold about mammon, its source, its ownership and its use that keep us in a self-imposed prison.

            Solomon offers us some helpful words: As a man thinketh within himself, so he is (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

            Philosopher James Allen once wrote, “Through his thoughts, man holds the key to every situation and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.”

            And, this brings me to grumbling. What we radiate outward in our thoughts, feelings and mental pictures and words we tend to attract into our lives and affairs.

            It is a universal truth that we cannot get something for nothing. But sometimes I fear we get exactly something back for radiating negativity! We get back more negativity!

            This past Tuesday, our Asbury Crew worked the lunch program again at Urban Ministries in downtown Charlotte. In case you are not aware, this is a shelter for homeless people.

            Two scenarios caught my attention. The first was the vast number of trays that returned to the cleanup window with sandwiches sealed in Ziploc bags still on them to be discarded.

            I wondered why these persons did not consider giving those sandwiches to a neighbor.   As a man thinketh within himself, so he is (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

 If we do not think of our neighbor are we attracting scarcity into our personal lives?

The second thing I noticed was one guy towards the end of the shift. This guy committed a serious no-no in the serving line.

This man stuck his tray back inside the window and wanted more rice. We have been taught that all trays must be equal so that everyone can get a fair share.

By sticking his tray back inside the window, this man wanted more than a fair share. Clandestinely a worker gave him another service of rice.

The reward for this was the man then began complaining that now he needed more chicken and gravy because he had extra rice.

Talk about spiraling out of control! Please understand that I am sharing with you an observation and not a judgment.

But what if…what if our thoughts of negativity and scarcity are actually compounding our distresses? Is it possible that the more we focus in on self, the more we staunch the flow of God’s grace?

I liken it to closing a water spigot. What if God is sloshing grace and prosperity all over us but we are closing the spigot by negative and self-centered thinking?

So, maybe today is a good day to consider that happiness is an inside job!

The Bible is kind of serious about this, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7 KJV).”

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