Key Verse:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world – Philippians 2:14-15 NKJV

We are complainers

Do you understand that the Lord simply has a plan to make you a better person today than you were yesterday?  “Yes, I understand,” is what some of us will answer.  Do we truly understand?  Our actions, better yet, our response to the Lord’s way would say otherwise.  How often do you find yourself complaining about the way the Lord has set you on?  I imagine that none of us take the tasks before us without ever mumbling a word.  There is a problem with this and we will touch on that problem in a few moments.

Today’s message comes from a passage of scripture (Philippians 2:12-18) that talks to the believer about becoming a light in a crooked and perverse generation (nation/world).  When you take a look at this passage as a whole, you will see that the Apostle Paul focuses on the grumbling (complaining) and disputes among the believers.  The believers are to edify (teach/lift up) one another, but we all know that absolutely nothing can be accomplished if there is a bunch disputing.

How can you learn, how can you understand, if you’re always arguing with the teacher?  I believe all of us have had to learn this lesson at some point in life.  The idea here is one we all understand well; you can’t learn anything if you’re always arguing and not listening.  We are slowly but surely starting to build towards a sermon on edification – we will get there!  Before that, we still must work on ourselves.

The journey of faith begins between two people, do you know who?

The journey of faith begins between God and the believer.  We have to choose for ourselves to be a believer in the Lord.  So, why do I bring that up?  Faith is a relationship solely between the believer and the Lord.  I believe that all of us have a different relationship with the Lord, just as a parent does not have the same exact relationship with each of their children.  All of us have a different relationship with the Lord.

Faith in and of itself is perfect!  What I mean by this is that the nature of faith is without flaws.  James wrote (James 1:4) that trials build up patience and that we should allow for the nature of faith (patience) to have its perfect work.  We are the ones who are not perfect.  You see, we go in and out of faith – jumping back and forth between being faithful and unfaithful.  Some will say this is not true, but I will show you in a moment that this is true.

We must also recognize that the Lord’s will and way are also perfect.  Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and learned how to live in the Lord’s way; he would go on to write (Deuteronomy 32:4) that His (God’s) work is perfect.  David, King of Israel, though he erred he too learned how to live in the way of the Lord and sung (Psalm 18:30) His (God’s) way is perfect.  We, once again, are the ones who are not perfect; we jump in and out of the Lord’s will and way.  Again, some of us will say to this that this is not true, but I will show you otherwise.

How can we dispute God?

We always seem to grumble and complain about God.  We will grumble and complain about the task that God has given us.  We cannot get enough of complaining and grumbling about what God has or has not given to us.  Yet we say that we are always faithful to the Lord.  We believe that God hasn’t given us the right “one” in life, and we be so upset about it.  We believe that God is holding us back from landing in a career and being happy in life – we be so upset at the Lord.  Yet we say we are always faithful to the Lord.

In our complaining and mumbling against God, we fail to realize the way we are acting.  We fail to realize that we are not being humble and thankful for what the Lord has done.  We fail to realize that we are showing signs of not fully trusting in His works (way) for us.  We fail to realize that we are not being obedient.  In other words, we are sinning in our complaining and disputing God.  Good to the Lord, we learned in my recent bible study, is obedience to His way.  Disobedience, or even thinking against His way (like Satan did), is sin (bad) against the Lord.

I want to share something with you that I read online (on one of my social networks), I can’t remember where, so I am unable to give this person credit.  The person said, “One of the biggest problems we have is that we’ll pray and ask God for a cake; the Lord provides all of the ingredients for us to make our cake.  We then get upset with God because the Lord did not deliver to us a ready-made cake.  We get upset because we have to put in the work!”  I find this to be incredibly true with all of us.

We pray to the Lord every day, asking and asking – the Lord gives us the tools (blessings) to succeed.  We then sit and complain about what the Lord has given us, but God heard our prayers, answered, and provided.  Who is in the wrong here?  God certainly cannot be in the wrong because we know that the Lord is righteous!

We have trust issues – it seems to be our nature, I suppose.  We are a lot like Jonah.  We are all very familiar with Jonah’s story which is found in the book named after him.  Jonah was commanded by the Lord to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2).  Jonah, however, had his own idea in mind and chose not to do as commanded by the Lord.  Jonah fled and ended up finding himself swallowed up in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 1:3-17).

The Lord commands us to be obedient in His way, but we choose to do our own thing – follow our own way.  Life then steps in, swallows us up, and we end up in the belly of the beast called life.  We stand in the belly of the beast unsure how such a thing could have happened.  We will then turn around and try to blame God and say that He is the reason we are in such a situation.  We refuse to ever blame ourselves – this is in our nature as well.

Jonah prayed in the belly of the great fish and was eventually spat out of the fish onto dry ground.  The Lord gave Jonah another opportunity and told Jonah to go to Nineveh again.  This time around, Jonah obeys the Lord and hurries to Nineveh, but after doing what the Lord commanded him to do, he grew angry with God. Jonah complained and disputed with the Lord about what God had him do.  Jonah was upset because he could not have it his way.  I tell you that this is us today.

We end up in the belly of the beast called life.  We pray to God to free us from the belly of the beast – He does.  The Lord tells us again to be obedient to His way and then we end up falling out of His way, down the road, all because we feel we are not having it our way.  How can we ever lead anybody, edify another, if we refuse to edify ourselves?  We become hypocrites because we ourselves are being disobedient.  How can we expect others to be obedient when we won’t be obedient ourselves?

Stop Complaining, and Trust in Him

We must learn to leave those trust issues that we have behind with our old man.  Paul challenged those in his day to be better than who they once were.  We must understand that this is ultimately the Lord’s challenge (call) to us today – be (become) better.  God calls for us to be better than our old man (sinful self).  We are to shine in the midst of this crooked and perverse world (v.15).

For us to be able to edify others, we must first edify ourselves.  This begins with us, as believers, adjusting our attitude with the Lord.  We are always throwing childish temper tantrums with God, but we as we did when we were growing up – we must grow up in our faith.  It is time for us to stop throwing a childish temper-tantrum at God.  We must stop complaining, disputing, and fighting what the Lord has for us and has already given to us!

His way and will have been established to be perfect.  Faith itself, we know, is also perfect.  His way, His will for all of us is perfect – trust in it!  We are the ones with the flaws and we are the ones who are not perfect.  We believe that we can bend the Lord over!  We think that the more and more we complain to God, He will then finally bend over to our will and way.  I have some bad news for you, that’s not going to ever happen!

I tell you today to stop prolonging your blessings by fighting God – stop doing that! It is absolutely pointless for us to think that our complaints will ever change the Lord’s mind.  When you can understand this, you will begin to see so many doors open in your life.  You will recognize that God has been blessing you all along!  You will then grow more in your faith and be better able to edify others.  The Lord calls for us to shine in a crooked and perverse world – to do so, we must begin with the edification of ourselves.  Let’s start with cutting out all of that complaining, and trust what God is doing in our life.


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