You Can Set the Tone of Your Day
October 11, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible." Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! The title and the topic for this morning is “You Can Set the Tone of Your Day.” I’d like to talk to you about this scripture: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” What a great affirmation that is! Not just one day or a day here or there, but how many days? All the days of my life! And we need to set the tone for our day, or else somebody or something else will set it for us. We don’t want that. We want to be able to be in control of this. We want to be able to let God bless us. We want the goodness and mercy to chase us down and catch up with us so that our day can be a great day.
Now, I’d like you to play a little game with me, won’t you? I’d like you, after I say ‘one, two, ready, go,’ to sing a note, any note. Low, high middle; re, fa, so, doesn’t matter. Just take a deep breath, sing it loud, and sustain it. Ready? One, two, ready go. [Cacophony, loud and sustained!] Now, sing the syllable “ooh” at this pitch. [Pleasant sound] Isn’t that beautiful? What clarity! What loveliness! It makes you want to hear more and more. That’s what we mean about setting the tone of your day. If you let everything and everyone set the tone, it’s going to be like the first example. If we decide on what the tone of the day is going to be, it’s going to have loveliness and harmony and cohesion, like the second example. So, my invitation for you today, through the scripture, is that you can set the tone for your day. You set the tone for your day.
Now, this is very, very important. I have two measuring instruments in my home. One is called a thermometer, and the other is called a thermostat. I like to get up early in the day and see what the temperature is outside. The thermometer is hooked up to a sensor, and I can tell what the temperature is outside. Ah, but the thermostat is a different story. The thermostat I can set. I can decide that the temperature in my house is going to be different from what it is outside. And it’s the same way with you. I invite you this morning – don’t be a thermometer; be a thermostat! You decide what the temperature and the tone of your day is going to be, and you can set it.
A wonderful Christian woman came up to me after the first service and said, “My mother always used to say, ‘The smile on your face can set the pace for your day.’” Isn’t that terrific? Say it out loud: The smile on your face can set the pace for your day. Yes, you set the pace; you set the tone and the temperature of your day. And don’t let worries or anger or upset or other people set it for you. You be the one to set it.
There are several ways we can do this. The thing I want you to remember is that there’s an old saying: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. That saying has been around for a while, but it’s been around for a while because it’s so true. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. So you set the tone for it. Do you want to have a positive day, or do you want to have a negative day? You can have a positive day if you set the tone.
You know, there are certain things we can’t change. We can’t change, perhaps, the circumstances. We can’t change other people. Or, can we? The smile on your face can bring a smile to other faces. Your positive attitude as you enter a room or as you enter the workplace can have a positive effect on all the people around you. Haven’t you seen it happen? Haven’t you gone to your workplace with a cheerful and good attitude and watched the people who were a bit on edge calm down and respond to you? You set the tone.
Now, I’d like to give you three tools for doing exactly this, and the tools are these: listen, forgive, and follow.
First, let’s talk about listening. Listen for what? When you wake up in the morning, as you come to consciousness, I invite you to say a prayer. Be in prayer to God. I like to hold my fingers in the shape of a cross, putting my index finger across my thumb, to remind me that I am in prayer. Let God remind you of the wonderful things you have done up to this point, the positive accomplishments that you have made, lately and in the past. Think about those. Let God shower you with blessings. Listen for the angel voices.
Second, forgive, forgive, forgive. One of the most powerful healing tools we have is to forgive. As you continue in that time of prayer, I invite you to look in your heart and say, “Is there anybody I need to forgive?” It doesn’t mean you have to become that person’s best buddy. All it means is that you should let it go. Let it go, and if you’re a friend of Jesus you can say, “Let it go to God.” Whatever that hardness of heart might be, whatever that tight feeling is, just let it go. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Let it fly free.
Also, forgive yourself. There’s a wonderful prayer that has these words: ‘Lord, I confess to you. Please forgive me for the things I have done that I ought not to have done and for the things that I ought to have done that I left undone.’ Isn’t that a great prayer? So, forgive yourself, accept God’s forgiveness, and let it go.
In this morning’s gospel about the rich young ruler, the young man came to Jesus and said, “Jesus, I want to enter the Kingdom of God.”
And Jesus said, “Okay, obey the commandments. Here they are.”
The man said, “Yes, but there’s still something missing.” I like to picture that man having a great big duffel bag that he’s carrying with him.
Jesus pointed to the duffel bag and said, “You’ve got to get rid of what’s in that bag in order to enter the Kingdom of God.”And the man didn’t want to. He didn’t want to part with what was in the bag.
We’re kind of troubled by that. People ask me, “Pastor, does that mean that Jesus wants me to get rid of all the things in my life?” No – just the stuff that’s keeping you away from God. What’s in your duffel bag? Could there be some grudges? Could there be some anger? Could there be some resentment? How about we dump that stuff out? Let it go free, and let it go to God, so that there is room in your duffel bag for more things that God wants to bless you with. He promises that He has so much more in store for you.
Listen, forgive, and third – follow. Follow the Lord Jesus. What does that mean? It means to get up and go, to move your feet, to do the things that Jesus told you to when you listened to the angel voices and making room in your heart by forgiving. Follow. Do things. Act on them. Do your part, and you will be walking in the path of God.
Dear friends, today is the first day of the rest of our lives. This is our chance. This is our moment. I invite you to rise up and listen and forgive and follow, and we will be walking in the path of beloved light. We will be marching in the light of God. That’s what God wants you to do, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski