A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
"I Can Complain"
Message summary: Today we all have a major choice in our outlook, we can complain or choose to rejoice.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice" (Philippians 1:18). "Do everything without complaining" (Philippians 2:14). "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).
We are often politely asked, "How are you doing today?" After all, at least here in the US, it’s the typical social greeting we use to initiate a conversation. At this question many provide the expected response, “I’m fine, thank you” without really giving it much thought.
But another common response is, "I can't complain". We could counter that response with, "Well actually you can complain since we have a 1st Amendment right to free speech". Truth be told, at any given time, there is always something to complain about if that’s our focus.
Of course there are also those who are going through a tough time and in these situations we want people to express themselves while we walk alongside them as burden bearers (Galatians 6:2). This should be our Christian response to those we encounter daily.
Let me ask you a candid question. Have you complained about anything thus far today? I'm not only speaking of verbal murmurings expressed to others, but inner complaining within your own heart. (Aren't you glad you don’t have to answer that question, at least where others might hear!)
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 endure or the conditions in which we live. However each day, really, each moment we have a major outlook choice; we can rejoice or complain.
Jim Gambini, who was our pastor for several years when we first moved to Lancaster County made an interesting observation: "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 at work? If God is really in control (and I sure believe He is), complaining is essentially accusing God of not doing it right. It's like telling God, "You are getting this all wrong. How about doing it right this time the way I want it?"
We wouldn't dare say those words, but our attitude often conveys such a disrespectful discourse, when we find ourselves grumbling to God. It's easy to criticize the Israelite's frequent murmurings and thankless hearts as they journeyed to the Promised Land, but we do the same, far more often, as we journey toward our promised land.
We 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 Paul and Silas' ordeal; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Their exterior circumstances in this single experience is a more traumatic trial than I've known in my 66 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 injustice took place in Philippi.
If anyone ever had uncomfortable and unwarranted conditions to complain about, Paul and Silas sure did! But the very next verse tells us just what they did: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25).
Paul later wrote a letter to the church in Philippi and gives two simple straightforward commands: "Do everything without complaining" (Philippians 2:14) and "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). He sure had the credibility to make these statements!
It's very easy to make super-heroes out of these disciples of Christ, but they were human just like us. The Scriptures do not speak of their complaining or murmuring, but it's possible they did initially (we really don't know). But we do know that their prevailing outlook led them to conclude that God is worthy of our praise no matter how miserable or unjust the circumstance! We are to glorify God in the good and bad, for "no one lives unto himself" (Romans 14:7). Onlookers see our countenance and observe our attitudes which provides for us an opportunity to glorify God and serves as a witness to others of the overall perspective Christ brings into our lives.*
Today we all have an outlook choice. You can complain or rejoice: "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" This is a proclamation every single one of us can make this day and every day!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're told to do everything without complaining, 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 others see Christ at work in our lives. May we be as a sweet aroma to You and those whom we meet on our life's journey. Give us an enduring spirit when matters press in on us and grace to see us through to victory. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
* Notice the latter part of Acts 16:25, "and the other prisoners were listening to them". What type of influence did their expression of praise have on these other prisoners as well as the jailer. (See Acts 16:26ff)
Brooksyne’s footnote: In Exodus 16:1 the Israelites came to the Wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month of their release from the Egyptians. Within verse 2 of this narration the people began to complain to Moses about their food and overall living conditions and Moses reminded them that they were ultimately complaining to God though he was the frustrated human mediator that got pummeled with their attacking jabs and ingratitude. I got to thinking about how easy it is, once we begin to complain, to be like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. Once we subject ourselves to bitterly complaining about our lot in life it’s easy to explore every possible territory where we might be slighted, so much so that we might find ourselves in the wilderness of sin. So when I’m going there with my thoughts and my words, I want to remind myself of this passage and ask, “Is that which I am complaining about ultimately a complaint against God?” If so, I need to align my expectations with the ultimate plan God has for me. “God will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you” was true for the Israelites and it’s also true for us today!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Rejoice in the Lord (a cappella)" Video The Hamilton Family
Yesterday we shared a photo of Sunday, a reader from Nigeria. Doris High, a local friend responded,
"The young man from Lagos, Nigeria, captured my attention. My uncle and aunt (Bob and Anna Mary Hess) were missionaries to Nigeria when I was a young woman. He was a school teacher. I wonder if this young man\'s parents or grandparents were taught by him. They lived in or near Lagos."
That question reminds us of the ripple effect of our ministry.
Earlier this spring we shared how the property across from us had been sold and the trees along the walking path had been removed. Here's a photo from the other night. We hope the grass gets a bit wider but are pleased the path is still open.
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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