I’m a sermon junkie. I love to listen to podcasts when I drive or run or clean. And I listen to all kinds of people. From oldies-but-goodies like J. Vernon McGee (who’s been with the Lord since 1988) to young guns like Francis Chan – I love a good sermon. One of the best I’ve heard lately was from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.

I can’t remember the sermon series, but I’ll never forget the illustration he used to close his message.

He’s often invited to meals at the homes of his congregants. He admits he’s not a finicky eater, but occasionally his host will serve something that’s not quite to his liking (which is simple considering he’s a Southern boy from Moncks Corner, SC). Or the host will misjudge how much food to fix and not have enough.

Since Southerners view meals as events, few things are more frustrating than to come away from a meal hungry. It makes us cranky and irritable. Since he wanted to “mind his manners,” Pastor Steven found a solution:

He eats before he gets there.

HamburgerNot a full meal, mind you, but just enough to settle his stomach and level his blood sugar. If he gets there and finds plenty of good food, he won’t over eat and gain unwanted pounds. But if the food isn’t good or there isn’t enough, he can take a “polite portion” and be satisfied. (“polite portion” – it’s a Southern thang)

He never expects somebody else to fill him up; he eats at home and gratefully accepts what they offer. His closing point:

How would our lives look if we applied that to our relationships?

Sometimes we look to others for a sense of significance or worth or appreciation. The problem is they have needs of their own and don’t see what we’re hungry for. Or worse, they don’t care.

It can lead us down an unhealthy path. We’re cranky and irritable because we have a hunger that’s not satisfied. Like desperate beggars, we go from person to person hoping someone offers us a sandwich.

But, we could eat before we get there.

Your words were found, and I ate them.
Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart,
for I am called by Your name…
~Jer 15:16 (HCSB)

Bible StudyWe could spend time with the Lord in the all-you-can-eat buffet of His Word. Understanding who we are in Christ Jesus, we find our significance and worth in Him. Before we go out and face the day, we could let His truths saturate our hearts and minds, and let His Spirit fill us.

When/if others show their appreciation, we can graciously accept a polite portion. Because we know our strength is in Christ Jesus, we don’t gorge on their praise and become bloated with pride. But,

When our boss doesn’t recognized our hard work…
When our friends don’t see our brokenness…
When our family doesn’t appreciate our sacrifices…

The hunger pangs aren’t nearly as sharp because we ate before we got there. Our gracious God invites us to

feast from a banquet table that never runs short, and
drink from a well that never runs dry.
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