Grumbling vs. Complaining

Thankfulness vs. Grumbling. If you were to give yourself a score in these two areas, how would you rate? How would your family, friends, and business colleagues rate you? How would God rate you?

We all have been around folks who are negative, always complaining, their glass is half empty, never seeing the good side of a situation. Those kinds of people are draining. They drain energy and life from all those around them.

When considering thankfulness vs. grumbling, scripture is quite clear regarding the standard that God expects. He wants His children to be filled with thankfulness to Him for all His provision.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”  Psalm 34:1,2

Do all things without complaining and disputing.”  Philippians 2:13

God views our complaining much more seriously than we do. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they complained bitterly against God. In Numbers 14:11-38 there is an extended account of a conversation between God and Moses regarding complaining. God had provided for all the needs of the children of Israel every step of their deliverance and journey out of Egypt. Yet they had complained about what the did NOT have. God was ready to destroy all of them who had complained. Moses interceded on behalf of the people and God did not kill them. However, those people did not get to enter into the promised land; they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. . . . . All because they had been grumblers. See how seriously God looks upon our grumbling?

God delights in children who are vocal about their thankfulness for His watchful care. By expressing thanks we honor our heavenly Father before a watching world. Even when we are walking through valleys of challenge, hurt, or disappointment, we can be grateful for God’s presence, His Word, His protection, His faithfulness, His goodness, His son who provides our salvation. The list is endless of specific areas that God demonstrates His care. He wants us, as His children, to recognize those areas and talk about them. Simple, right? Not really.

This has been an area of awareness in my life for some time. The Holy Spirit showed me that I was grumbling and complaining when I needed to be expressing deep gratitude. I soon realized that I was complaining far more than I realized. What I discovered was that I could control what I verbalized relatively well but that I was still murmuring and complaining in my head. No one hears my thoughts or reads my mind . . . except God. I could hide my complaining thoughts from people but not from God and He is the One to whom I am accountable. Now I am working on taking captive those thoughts that are negative, complaining, ungrateful, murmuring, etc. It is an ongoing battle but the Holy Spirit is a good teacher. He shows me when my speech needs to change.

What I discovered is that I can’t implement Ps. 34:1 when I am complaining. As a reminder, that verse says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” It is not possible to complain and bless God at the same time. No wonder God wants us to bless Him!

Examine your speech patterns. Are your words filled with thankfulness or are you a complainer? Ask God to help you walk in greater obedience in this area. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:18.

Be encouraged.

 

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What Do You Want Me To Do For You?

In Luke 18:35 and following the story is told of a blind man. “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told Him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned Him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded Him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked Him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” then Jesus said to Him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received His sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” questions_answers_5

The question asked by Jesus is such a good one . . . What do you want me to do for you? When recently reading this passage, I stopped and pondered that question. Of course Jesus knew because He is God that the blind man wanted to be healed. By asking the question Jesus provided an opportunity for the blind man to articulate His need. In answer to Jesus’ question the blind man revealed His faith in Jesus to heal Him before a crowd of witnesses. The result was not only the healing of the blind man but also the people who witnessed the miracle giving praise to God.

This question is a good one. In interactions with others, it is easy to assume that I know what the other person wants or needs. That is not always accurate. I can easily misjudge another’s point of need. By asking that question, what do you want me to do for you, I provide an opportunity for the other person to articulate their thoughts thereby providing clarity for them and me.

Jesus demonstrated great skill in handling people. His questions were insightful and probing. We can learn from His example and incorporate similar questions in our handling of people. What do you want me to do for you?

What questions have you found effective in ministering to people?

Be encouraged.

 

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The scriptures are God’s revealed word to us. All the answers to life’s challenges are found in the Bible. God created us and His Words are the operator’s manual for life here on earth. Scripture tells us that “the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

In the sermon on the mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”biblestudy

There are questions beg to be answered.

  • How much do you love the scriptures?
  • Are you hungry to be in the Word?
  • Do you love to read it?
  • Do you anticipate with great joy the time that you spend in the Word?
  • Do you speak His words to others?
  • Do you include His words in what you write?

The Word of God is so very exciting. If it is not that way for you right now, ask God to give you that hungering and thirsting for His Word. Ask Him to open your eyes to see and your ears to hear. He loves to have His children make those kinds of requests.

Developing a love for God’s Word happens as we spend time reading His Word. We learn to love what we invest our time in. That principle works with God’s Word.

Recently I was been introduced to a Bible reading program that is much different and very easy to implement. It has been crafted by Professor Grant Horner, Associate Professor at Master’s College in California. This method of reading is easy to use because the daily readings are not one book at a time. There are multiple readings each day from different books. Below is a link with a detailed description of how to follow the plan. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me.

Link: http://www.challies.com/sites/all/files/attachments/professor-grant-horners-bible-reading-system.pdf

Immerse yourself in God’s Word. It is our instruction manual.

Be encouraged.

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He Came . . . He is Coming

Christmas is the time of year that we especially remember that Jesus came to earth, leaving the glories of heaven to be born of the virgin Mary. Against that backdrop we remind ourselves that He is coming . . . again, a second time! What contrasts exist between these two comings.

Let’s look at Jesus’ first coming.

  • ImageHis coming was announced hundreds of years in advance by the Old Testament prophets but the exact date was unknown.
  • He was born of a virgin, as foretold, who miraculously conceived by the power of God.
  • He was born in obscurity in a town that was not large or famous.
  • There was no fancy “family birthing center” for Mary. In fact there was no room anywhere to stay. Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a stable.
  • The nursery was the place where the animals slept; His bed was the feeding manger for the them.
  • The announcement of His arrival was not made with mailed invitations, photos, and a Facebook post nor was it made to the ruling leaders of the day. It was made to a group of shepherds who were considered the lowest rank of society because they lived outside with the sheep and smelled like them. Shepherds were not respected; their livelihood was not one to be desired.
  • The announcement was delivered by angels! An entire host of heavenly angels praised God before the watching shepherds. What a production was staged by God Himself to announce the birth of His son, Jesus.
  • His coming was obscure and humble without the pomp and circumstance that one would think might accompany the birth of a King.

When He comes the second time, the details will be much different indeed. Some aspects are similar but many are different. The Bible provides some details about the next coming of Jesus:

  • The time of His return is not known to anyone but God.
  • He will come in the clouds, riding on a white horse.
  • Every eye will see Him.
  • There will be no doubt about who He is. He will be known by all.
  • Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
  • He will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

As this season provides a time to focus on Jesus’ first coming, let’s continually remind ourselves that He is coming again. His return could be this very day. Maranatha! Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  Rev. 22: 12, 13

Be encouraged.

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Keeping Up . . . I Can’t!

A devotional book by Boyd Bailey called Seeking Daily the Heart of God has been the source of some recent delightful pondering. Below is a quote from page 300 that caught my attention.

“Do not think you have to keep up with others who have a greater capacity, as God has a place for you to perform within your passions, skills, and giftedness.”

This principle is very important to grasp, especially during the busyness of the Christmas season. There are always others who have energy and vitality that far exceeds mine. Sometimes I try to keep up. Other times I feel lesser because I can’t keep up or even do what I want to do. This principle holds great significance for me, realizing that God has a place for me to perform WITHIN my passions, skills, and giftedness.

Of course that would be God’s method. He created me, knows me, knows my limitations, and will guide me within my own limitations. That’s how He works. What a sweetness to my soul to have this greater realization of who God is, how He operates, and how He knows me intimately.

Be at peace doing only what you are able of doing, committing it to God in the process. God does not measure you by what someone else can do who has greater capabilities. We are measured by being faithful with what He has given to us, by being faithful with what we CAN do. Allow this principle to help you through the plans and preparations of this season.

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NAS

Be encouraged.

 

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Handling Distress and Grief

The book of 1 Samuel introduces an amazing woman named Hannah who ultimately became the mother of the prophet Samuel. Before she became a mother, she lived through many years of barrenness and ridicule from her husband’s other wife. In that culture not having children was the ultimate insult to a married woman, often equated with living a sinful life and a punishment from God. Hannah bore this ill treatment from the other wife in a godly manner but her heart was heavy. She wanted to bear a child, a son. Her example of responding to distress and grief demonstrates an important principle.

In chapter 1 Hannah is praying to God while in the temple at Jerusalem. The priest, Eli, sees her praying without words being spoken and assumes she is drunk. When Eli inquires of Hannah she replies in verse 15 saying, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine or intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” God is the One to whom Hannah ran to pour out her heavy heart. Her pain and longing to be a mother were vented in the presence of God.

Our Heavenly Father is delighted when His children pour out their heart to Him. In the book of Psalms encouragement is given over and over to: pour out our heart, cry out, find sanctuary in God alone.

God is not put off by emotional outbursts, grief, or tears. Other people can’t always cope with my distress but God can. He knows me and wants me to run to Him with my deepest needs.

God can handle the pouring out of my soul; He is the only one who can. He is not overwhelmed by the depth of my distress. It does not take Him by surprise. “God is my refuge and strength. A very present help in time of need.” Run to our loving heavenly Father with all of your distress, grief, pain, longing, disappointments, and tears. He is the One who best equipped to meet your need. He is always available.

Be encouraged.

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Lessons in Leadership from Ezra

Ezra 7:10 says, “Ezra had prepared His heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statues and ordinances in Israel.” NKJV

There is a natural progression in this scripture that applies to anyone in leadership. It begins with preparing our own heart to be in God’s Word and presence. We can’t just barge into God’s presence. Preparation begins with cleansing: examining our own heart, finding sin there, confessing it to God. Once we are cleansed, we can proceed.

Step #1 – Seek the law of the Lord,  enter into His word wanting to learn and grow. God loves it when a heart turns fully to seek Him. He searches to and fro for hearts that are wanting more, longing to press into the depths of God, not satisfied to stay “flatlined” in their walk with God. Phil 2:10 says “That I may know Him. . .”

Step # 2 – Do it. Seeking God isn’t enough. A response is required . . . doing, being obedient, walking in the light that has been given. God desires that I experience the truth of what I have learned, to move it from head knowledge to heart knowledge. That I experience Him. This is the way I come to know God, the way my faith grows, the way God becomes real. I learn of Him in the doing.

Step # 3 – Teach it. Note that teaching follows the learning and obedience. Teaching others requires that I have walked the walk, not just read about it. When I experience the principle first, then I have a story to tell supporting it. Teaching is the passing along what I learn from my study of God’s Word, formally or informally. The mouth needs to be used to spread truths of what has been learned, always looking for an open heart.

This is a sequential process that the prophet Ezra modeled years ago. It is still relevant today. Seek the Lord. Do it. Teach it. I must grow and experience God before I can lead others.

Be encouraged.

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