The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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"Complain Or Rejoice?"
"Do everything without complaining" (Philippians 2:14). "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).
Pastor Jack Hinton from New Bern, N.C. was leading music for a worship service held in a leper colony on the island of Tobago. There was time for one more selection. He asked for a request, and a woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around. "I saw the most hideous face I had ever seen," Jack says. "The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. Most of her lips had rotted away. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ’Can we sing, Count Your Many Blessings?’" Overcome with emotion Jack left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, "Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again." "Yes, I will," Jack replied, "but I’ll never sing it the same way again."
Let me ask you a candid question. Have you complained about anything thus far today? I'm speaking not only of verbal murmurings expressed to others, but also complaining within your heart. (Many of you are glad you really don’t have to answer that question, at least where others will see your response!) I realize life is jam packed with opportunities to complain if we so choose. I suspect this is true wherever we live; regardless of what situations we are going through or conditions we are living under.
Jim Gambini, a pastor friend, made an interesting observation when he pointed out, "Essentially, complaining is accusing God of not doing it right." Think about that statement in light of God's providential dealings in your life. Isn't the traffic jam ultimately under God's control? What about that annoying associate? If God really is in control (and I sure believe He is) complaining really is accusing God of not doing it right.
I encourage you to read this Scripture carefully: "The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks" (Acts 16:22-24).
Try to imagine, even empathize with what Paul and Silas were experiencing; physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Their exterior circumstances in this single experience is more traumatic than any trial I've experienced in over 55 years of life. Look at the key words describing their situation: attacked, stripped, beaten, severely flogged, thrown in prison, guarded carefully, inner cell, feet fastened in stocks. This happened in Philippi.
If anyone ever had uncomfortable and unwarranted conditions to complain about they sure did! Did they appeal to the human rights commission? Did they threaten a personal injury law suit if medical staff refused to treat their potentially infectious wounds? Of course we know they didn't and likely would not have even if these options had been available in their time period. In fact the very next verse tells us what they chose to do. Do you know what that is before I tell you?
* See below for answer.
Paul later wrote a letter to the church in Philippi and gives two simple straightforward commands: "Do everything without complaining" and "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" He sure had the credibility to make these statements!
I wonder how many of our words in an average day will compose thoughts that are uplifting, appreciative, encouraging, and empowering to others and ourselves? In checking our attitudes today I ask you bluntly: Am I going to complain, criticize, nitpick, grumble, whine, find fault, or nag? Or am I going to be cheerful, pleasant, agreeable, encouraging, uplifting. Am I looking for the good in others, even in myself?
"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" And that is a proclamation every single one of us can make this day and every day!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're told to do everything without complaining or arguing, so that we shine like stars in the universe. We know that people are drawn to light where brightness is present and warmth is extended. Help our conversation to be full of grace, tenderness, light, and truth so that we will positively affect those around us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
* Here is the verse that immediately follows the daily Scripture portion referred to in today's message: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25).
Stephen's Note: The other day I was visiting the residents in an assisted living center where we serve as chaplains. I visited a table where they were patiently waiting for their dinner to be served. I inquired of the residents, "What are you having for dinner?" They weren't sure so I went and checked the bulletin board, came back, and informed them, "You're going to have a Chef Salad!" The resident didn't hide her disapproval; she responded not in words but with a twisted mouth and scrunched up nose! I knew that she was a Christian so I playfully challenged her, "Finish this line for me, 'Count Your Blessings… ' She smiled as she quoted, "Name them one by one." She definitely got my point!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Count Your Blessings" Video George Beverly Shea vocal
"Count Your Blessings" Video Smokey Mountain instrumental
"Count Your Blessings" Audio version
"Count Your Blessings" Video Although this teaching is set to a seasonal theme (Christmas) it has a great perspective.
This is not a Christian hymn but a good lesson from a classic movie. Video
Correction: Yesterday I showed a photo of a tractor with a piece of equipment which I mistook for a hay baler parked in a driveway. Curt, a local friend who is also a farm equipment salesman, informed me that it is a hay merger which he had actually sold to the farmer!
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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