How to Have a Great Day
June 24, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me"--
29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.
35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39"Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
[Pastor Tony playing the piano]
If you know this song, sing along with me, won’t you?
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.
And it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky.
Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s going my way.
Oh, what a beautiful day!
It is a beautiful day. And I want to talk with you today about how to have a great day. This Sunday and next, I’d like us to have a two-part series on that topic. Today, part 1.
Be a little silly with me for a moment, would you? Everybody, lift your hand. Very good. That was just to get you ready to answer a couple of questions. Here goes – how many of you would love to have a whole series of great days this week? Good! Me too! How many of you have constantly had great days? Some have! Good! How many of you would like to have a whole string of great days in front of you? Yes, we all would. I’d like to talk with you about how we can do that. This week and next, we’ll talk about that.
Repeat with me: I am alive, alert, energetic, and enthusiastic about life! Amen. I want to talk about this topic because sometimes, I think, we can get so trapped in our thoughts, in our worries, in our depression, in our fears, that we can let whole days go by and at the end say, “Oh, I had a bad day today.” We can’t let that happen, my friends. We need to have great days. Jesus said, “I am come that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus wants you to have a great day, and I pray that you may have it. Today, I want to talk about some specific techniques to accomplish that.
We heard in this morning’s gospel about a man who did not have great days. He was a man who lived in Gerasenes. This man, we are told, had many demons inside him. When Jesus got off the boat and went to the place where the man was, he met Jesus. This man was wild and tormented. Jesus asked a very tender question. He said, “What is your name?” I am so touched by that question. It was Jesus saying, “Who are you really? Tell me your name, and I’ll tell you a lot about who you are. Do you say your name with tenderness and love?”
What does the man answer? He says, “My name is Legion,” which means many. It is also the name for a contingent of Roman soldiers. It makes you wonder what experience this man had as a child, growing up with a legion that caused him now to live among tombs. You see, this man’s heart was filled with demons. It was filled with negative ideas. Sometimes the world can tempt us that way, too, to be filled with negative ideas of fear and worry and sadness and depression.
What did Jesus do for him? He commanded the demons to go out of the man and to go into a herd of pigs, which then ran away and threw themselves over a cliff. The townspeople came and saw a transfigured man, clothed and in his right mind. I imagine him in a suit and tie. I imagine him sitting there with polished shoes, this man who had once been almost savage-like in his roughness. I imagine him wearing a pair of glasses, speaking intelligently to the folks, to their amazement.
You know, Jesus got in trouble for healing this man. Can you imagine? But He healed this man, and the good news is that He can heal you and me, too. I don’t know whether you can identify with this man who was filled with all kinds of tormented thoughts, but if you can, this is the day to get rid of them. Send them away, and be filled with the positive thoughts of Jesus Christ, because that’s what He did for the gentleman in the Gospel. That’s what He can do for you and for me.
Instead of having a series of bad days, living among the tombs, cutting himself off and shrieking (which maybe we feel like doing from time to time), this man had great days, because of Jesus Christ, his savior and ours. So, let’s see how we can do it. My prayer for you is to have a great day, everyday. I want to talk with you about how.
First of all, having a great day begins the night before. May I suggest to you that the mindset you keep when you go to sleep has a lot of influence on what happens the next day. So I suggest that your going-to-sleep time be very gentle. You might want to have a book of inspirational thoughts nearby. At least, certainly have some inspirational prayers in your heart as you go to sleep. I know a young boy who prays beautiful nighttime prayers. One part of his prayer is “Dear God, let tomorrow be wonderful, too. Stretch out time so we can have more time to enjoy tomorrow.” That’s a beautiful thought.
Prepare your mind the night before for the living of the next day. Let your mind be rested in the Lord, and say, “Lord, I am going to be ready for a great day tomorrow. Please wake me up at thus and such a time with a gentle and enthusiastic wakening.” That will be a good way to prepare.
Sometimes, we prepare ourselves for sleep with the evening news. We’re bombarded by bad news! And then maybe a comedian that’s… not so good. Don’t do it! Take care of yourself. Take care of your sleep time, so that your waking can be blessed.
Now, in the morning, may I suggest that, before bolting out of bed, you take a moment for the Lord in prayer. I suggest that you might use the letters of the word G-R-E-A-T-T-T to help formulate your prayer. Write
We’re going to talk about the first three letters today; we’ll talk about the others next week.
When you wake up, I invite you to come to a state of prayer and tell the Lord what you’re grateful for. Whatever comes to mind – it doesn’t have to be a long list, one or two things. Focus your mind on something you’re grateful for. G stands for grateful. “Lord, I am grateful for this thing.” I tell you, I’m grateful for so much, I can’t name everything.
I’ll tell you one thing I’m grateful for. I took my godson Dylan to an amusement park last week to celebrate the close of school. We were there at the amusement park, having a great time. I was sitting on a bench waiting for him to be done with his ride, and then as we were walking along, I realized I had lost my keys. Now, you may know what that feels like. So much hinges on our keys. I was in a total state of panic. I had a pouch with me that I keep my keys and stuff in, but the keys weren’t in it. We were both panicking. I prayed about it. I envisioned myself holding those keys and thanking the Lord for it. I gave thanks in advance for that moment. I couldn’t find them. So I decided to look in my pouch one more time. I dug deep, deeper, and there they were! Praise God! I had the keys. The crisis was over. I was a grateful person!
What are you grateful for? Tell the Lord. That opens the gates for more blessings. So the first step toward having a great day is to be grateful.
The second step is R – be Ready. Be ready for a blessing. Say, “Lord, this is going to be a great day. I am ready to be blessed by You. And everywhere I look, I’m going to look for signs of Your blessings and abundance, whether they are big things or little things.” You find a parking space – say, “There’s God’s blessing of abundance.” Your toast lands jelly-side up – there’s God’s sign of abundance. You find your keys – there’s God’s sign of abundance. But you’ve got to be ready for it. You’ve got to say, “Today is a day where I’m going to be ready for and look for God’s abundance.”
You go for a walk – you can walk! There’s God’s abundance. You see the leaves on the trees and you see their beauty. There’s God’s abundance! “Lord, I’m going to be ready for it. I’m going to be ready for all the symbols of your abundance today.” That’s the next step, to be ready.
G-R-E…E stands for enthusiasm. What are you enthusiastic about? There has to be something that you are looking forward to in order to propel you into a good day. Children teach us great lessons about this, don’t they? They get so enthusiastic about things. They look forward to things. “I’m going to see my friend today!” they can say with great gusto. I invite us to be enthusiastic about things. I can get enthusiastic about taking a few minutes to practice the piano. That is such a treat, to be able to take some time to actually sit down and work out a passage. That’s something I can get enthusiastic about. How about you? You can get enthusiastic about calling a friend. You can get enthusiastic about fixing a meal for your family. You can get enthusiastic about some project we’re doing here at church. Oh, there is so much to get enthusiastic about! If you fix your mind along those lines, you’re preparing yourself for a great day.
So, prepare the night before. Think about what you are Grateful for. Be Ready for a great day. And think about what you are Enthusiastic about, what you are looking forward to. And you will be paving your way to a great day. Let’s try it this week, shall we? And then next we’ll talk about the other steps.
In closing, let me just say this: when God created people, He put them in a garden. He didn’t put them in a cubicle. Even though you may have to work in a cubicle or behind a desk or whatever, your mind can be a garden if you cultivate the right thoughts. God wants you to. His joy needs to be in you, because that is the way He wants it. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it…because God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski