Letís Light a Candle in the Darkness:
The Golden Key to Prosperity
February 1, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our topic today is ďLetís Light a Candle in the Darkness: The Golden Key to Prosperity.Ē In the times that we face, almost all of us have been touched in some way or other by the worries of our economy. We have been tempted to fear; we have been tempted to be anxious. We have asked ourselves the questions, ďIs everything okay? Is everything all right? Am I doing well or not? Am I a person of prosperity or not?Ē
Iíd like to talk about that with you this morning, my friends, because I believe in my heart that there is a golden key to prosperity, and if you have that golden key you can indeed unlock that door and realize that you are a prosperous person. I think itís very important that we have this golden key. Letís talk about it this morning Ė the golden key to prosperity.
First of all, Iíd like to ground us in scripture. I invite you to consider Psalm 111:1.
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Iíd also like us to remember the words of the 23rd Psalm.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evilÖ.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What is the golden key to prosperity? First of all, let me tell you about two people I know of, one of whom I know personally. The first is the friend of a friend. Letís call him Simon. Simon is a boat builder. Well, more accurately, heís a yacht builder. He lives now in a place called Dubai. For those of you who have not heard of Dubai, it is a very monetarily wealthy land in the Middle East. A lot of people who have gained a lot of money from oil live there. It is a very elaborate place, to say the least. So this fellow Simon lives there, and he tells me that it is not unusual for a yacht to be at least 200 feet long. Thatís a big boat! He also says that the minimum cost of one of these yachts is $27 million Ė and thatís an entry level boat! Can you imagine?
Simon builds $27 million yachts. Is he prosperous? Maybe. I wonít know unless I know he has the golden key. Are the people who buy these yachts prosperous? Maybe, if they have the golden key.
Let me tell you about another person. Her name is Joyce. Joyce lives at Roosevelt Hospital in Menlo Park. She lives full-time in a hospital room. She is an amazing person. She has a smile on her face and brightness in her heart. Her room is filled with little stuffed animals, stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling, pictures of loved ones on the wall, pictures of her late husband right next to her. And she always has a bright thing to say and a good word for everyone who visits her. Is Joyce prosperous? I think so, because I believe she has the golden key.
What is the golden key? Let me tell you the sermon in a sentence: To be grateful is to live in a world of prosperity. Can Joyce be prosperous? Yes. Can Simon be prosperous? Yes. But the question is, do they have a grateful heart? Because until you have a grateful heart, youíll never have enough.
Are you prosperous? Thatís the question of the day. There may be some people here who are going through a very rough time, and they may be tempted to say, ďWell, Pastor, golden key or not, I donít really have anything Iím thankful for. Iíve got it tough, and I canít think of a thing to be thankful for.Ē Well, be playful with me for a minute, wonít you? Put your hand out, wrist up. Now, take the pointer and middle finger of the other hand, and put the pads of those fingers on your wrist and press. [Congregation laughing] Feel anything? Beat, beat, beat, beat. Iím at about 88 per minute. How about you?
You feel life! Youíre alive! Isnít that something to be grateful for? Amen! Itís the most priceless gift of all. Youíre alive! Friend, what a priceless gift! Itís unspeakably, unimaginably valuable. Life! Itís yours today. Itís your gift from God. It should fill your heart Ė it does mine Ė with overwhelming gratitude and joy. My doctor says I live life differently since October 21, 2005, the day of my cardiac event. You bet! Every day, every morning, I wake up and say, ďIím alive!Ē What a concept! Iím grateful! How about you? If thereís life coursing through your veins, thereís something to be grateful for.
Let me ask you this question: Did you get a good nightís sleep last night? Did you have a place to sleep last night? Iíll be you did. Give thanks! Did you have dinner last night? Give thanks! Did you have a way to get to church this morning? Give thanks! Is there somebody in the world you can call your friend? Give thanks! Do you have a church to go to that will welcome you with open arms? You do. Give thanks! Oh my goodness, friends, when you dwell in this attitude of thankfulness, you are a person of prosperity. And no matter what the market does or doesnít do, no matter what the seas of change may bring us, if we have gratitude in our hearts we are prosperous people.
My dear friends, this insight can come to us suddenly. You might have been so tempted by all the things that are assailing you to dwell upon the negative and to dwell upon the dire predictions of this one or that one. But donít succumb to temptation. Live with a grateful heart.
Iím going to ask you to do a couple of things this week. First of all, have a cup of gratitude. What does that mean? Itís a very concrete way that you can have a grateful heart. Take a cup of coffee, any cup of coffee, or a cup of tea if thatís what you prefer. Take a cup of alcohol-free, unfermented grape juice, if youíd rather. Take a cup of coffee, and use the time it takes to drink it to think of everything youíre thankful for. Take a sip and think of more things. And you will find that thereís a joy in your heart and a transformation in the way you feel that is absolutely amazing. The psalmist says Ďmy cup runneth over,í and so will yours as you drink that cup of gratitude.
Another thing I invite you to do is to light a candle of gratitude this week. Take a candle, any candle, and as you light it, let it be the light in the darkness. Let it be the symbol of light that chases away the darkness of gloom and worry and that reminds us that we have so much to be grateful for. Let us dwell there. Let us give thanks to the Lord with grateful hearts. Let us give thanks to the Lord that you have Jesus Christ in your heart, the friendship that will never be broken and never taken away from you. Give thanks with a grateful heart, and let God know how thankful you are.
And let me say one more thing. When youíre thankful, when you know how to say thanks from the heart, it opens the door to more blessings. It really does. Iím not exactly sure why, but it just seems to do so. When you know how to say thanks, God is preparing to give you even more blessings. Let me ask you this Ė most of you know what itís like to deal with children. If you do something nice for a child and that child is grateful, when that child smiles and says thank you, arenít you inclined to want to do even more for that child? So it is with God. As we have grateful hearts, God is inclined to give us even more blessings. Take a moment to light a candle in the darkness. Take a moment to drink a cup of gratitude this week, wonít you?
In closing, let me tell you about a person who taught me a little prayer. Her name was Kate Kline. She was 80 when I became the pastor of Springdale Methodist Church in Warren 31 years ago. She was a wonderful member of the congregation, and she taught me this prayer, this meal blessing:
Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, God, for everything.
Let that be your prayer, wonít you? And now, friends, as you go forth into the world knowing that you are prosperous people, that you are a prosperous person because you have a grateful heart, let me share a prayer for us all. Let us pray.
Dear Lord, in the moments before the sun rises,
I come to you with a grateful heart.
I give thanks that the sun will rise again,
As surely as anything;
That there is light after darkness;
That night ends with the brightness of dawning,
And so will the things I worry about.
I am allowing all the countless blessings of the past
To give me confidence and hope for today.
I give you thanks that there is hope,
Even when we do not know where or when the good will come.
I am choosing gratitude this day.
I am choosing mercy over judgment;
I am choosing gratitude and peace for others and for myself,
This day, right now.
O Lord, help me in my decision to be a grateful person.
Help me to see that my glass is at least half full,
If not more,
And that I indeed now have and always, always will have
Something to be grateful for.
This golden moment is alive with possibility,
And brilliant, inspiring, amazing things are all around me
And on their way.
Let the darkness of my worries be overcome
With the brightness of all your blessings to me.
I am and I want to be a calm, steady, and thankful person.
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, Jesus.
God loves you, friend. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski