(from a great movie - “The Kid” with Bruce Willis)
Morning by Morning Rev. C. H. Spurgeon ...April 30
Numbers 14:2 “And all the children of Israel murmured.”
There are murmurers amongst Christians now, as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when the rod falls, cry out against the afflictive dispensation. They ask, "Why am I thus afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?" A word with thee, O murmurer! Why shouldst thou murmur against the dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can He treat thee more hardly than thou deservest? Consider what a rebel thou wast once, but He has pardoned thee! Surely, if He in His wisdom sees fit now to chasten thee, thou shouldst not complain. After all, art thou smitten as hardly as thy sins deserve? Consider the corruption which is in thy breast, and then wilt thou wonder that there needs so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh thyself, and discern how much dross is mingled with thy gold; and dost thou think the fire too hot to purge away so much dross as thou hast? Does not that proud rebellious spirit of thine prove that thy heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Are not those murmuring words contrary to the holy submissive nature of God's children? Is not the correction needed? But if thou wilt murmur against the chastening, take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers. God always chastises His children twice, if they do not bear the first stroke patiently. But know one thing-"He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." All His corrections are sent in love, to purify thee, and to draw thee nearer to Himself. Surely it must help thee to bear the chastening with resignation if thou art able to recognize thy Father's hand. For "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons." "Murmur not as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer." ~ C.H. Spurgeon
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Complaining against difficulties has got to be among my chiefest of sins. I find “the whine” to be much too quick in coming, and much too slow in leaving, most days. An attitude of general disgruntlement may not be what I awaken with anymore, (progress IS progress!) but it sure doesn't take long to creep in once I begin mixing with humanity! As the prayer that Joyce Meyers had quoted once went, and which I find myself too often praying;
“Lord, so far today I haven't cussed anyone out, I haven't thought wicked evil thoughts, or gossiped or plotted to kill anyone or coveted anyone else's goods, life or postion – but I am going to have to get us soon and I am sure I will need more help then!”
lol And – really – some days that is not nearly as funny or far fetched as it sounds! Ugh. Confession is good for the soul, they say – though it is hard on the flesh! See?! Complaining already! Oy! If you can't say “amen!”, then just say “oh me!” The entity which we blithely call, “Social Media” has become a general gripe fest against injustice, political incorrectness, corruption, or religiosity – or – well – you name it! I find that it is often with great difficulty that I choose to pass up a chance to throw in some witticism – however snarky – about anything that catches my eye! Negativity seems to be what the flesh does best!
The rub is that I am not wanting to operate in the flesh! I am endeavoring to operate in conjunction with the Spirit of the Living God! And I have to report that I am still not having overwhelming success - minute to minute! Oh, perhaps there are more shining minutes in the day than there used to be - wherein I manage to say something, or think something that encourages a human, or blesses the heart of my God - but overall I think the average is still sort of pitiful.
I read this devotional this morning and I cry out with Rabbi Shaul – who, in his instructional letter to the Romans, is giving a great dissertation on the difficulties which he has encountered in trying to live a holy life. He cries out, toward the end of what we now know to be “chapter seven”, “Oh Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?!”
Fortunately he doesn't just leave us hanging with that preponderance as do most of the philosophers of his time – but continues on in the next verse, “Thanks be to God, through Yeshua the Anointed One, our Adonai (LORD)!” And he goes on to explain the different avenues from which our righteousness flows as opposed to our fleshly expression in saying, “So then, with the mind (my most conscious effort) I willingly serve the law of God; but with the flesh (my as yet unredeemed subconscious motivation) I serve the law of the sin. There is no condemnation to those who are In The Anointed Yeshua, who (deliberately) walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in the Anointed Yeshua has made us free from the law of sin and death....”
What great news! But I am reminded through what Brother Spurgeon is exhorting, that we need to work on silencing the complaining – by realizing what utter grace has been shown to us – and by positioning ourselves to receive more of that grace in the difficult times (of dealing with the varied unpleasantness of living life on a planet that has mostly opted out of that grace)!
We must, as we like to say, find our “grown up undies” and get a life! But not just any life! We all need to seek - and to find - the life of God every day! We all need to press into His Most Excellent Presence for the refreshing and perspective which we need to weather the storms that this earthly life is determined to hurl at us! The troubles that seek us out, which come sometimes like piggy-back labor – so close together that we can not get our breath! We should take a lesson from our brother Job. He surely had reason to complain! And yet he was firmly rebuked for doing so – because he could not understand the purposes of his trouble, nor the deliverance that was coming to him! In the end he was the first to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” What a proclamation of faith!
Whatever we are going through is not the end. It is not the sum judgment of our entire life. It is not even a commentary on our life! Not from our loving God! Though it may be an accusation from the enemy – but who cares what he thinks of us? We are not trying to please him! We need to keep pressed into the Spirit of God who only convicts and corrects us in order to improve our situation and deepen our Godly character! We need to press into the ONE who loves us more than we can love ourselves, and who has the ultimate best interest - of ALL-Involved - in mind – He is just that good!
We need to be firmly convinced of His character and stop letting the enemy accuse Him to us, or even allowing him to accuse US to us! We need to tune into to station W-GOD (lock in the dial and tear off the knob!) – and leave station WTFH(?!) completely alone! Or to use a wise analogy I once heard – “Don't just keep tearing down the cobb-webs, kill the blasted spider!”
The best policy, I have finally learned over time, is just “Don't Ask”! Don't ask - “What next?!” The enemy will be quick to tell you! And usually he lies! Then we fret our butts off over nothing, or bring that very thing to pass by our negative proclamations! Oy vey! What shmucks we are! Don't do it!
Get into His Word, “for heaven's sake” and for our own sake as well, and speak THAT! IT is LIFE! Praise is a great grouch-prevention tool. It is a great way to block the doubt and unbelief syndrome! It is difficult to doubt and pout when one is pouring out one's gratefulness in praise to God! Real gratitude, expressed in heart-felt praise will settle the griping-grumbles any day! One simply can not dance before the LORD and keep a bad attitude!
So today – as ever - we need to make a choice between pout or praise, grouch or gratitude, life or death! And we know the best choice already. So whether we are praising Him through a storm, or a tsunami, or a sunshiny day – we just need to focus in on Him – He is always, ever, worthy of our praise! He is the God who gives, and the God who takes away – and both are always in our best interest ultimately – no matter what it seems like at the moment! The miracle is that we can KNOW this. We can KNOW HIM! It really doesn't get better than that.
Let's take a cue from King David, he was always talking to himself – but it is what he said that was so important. He would say, “My soul, hope thou in God”! And even after a great misunderstanding, and pretty severe corrective action – once he was over his own pout fest - he danced before the LORD! Disregarding what the haters said! His own wife among them. He was in love with His God and he didn't care who knew it or if anyone liked it. If we can – or will - get to that place of dedication to Him we will not be quick to trip and fall face flat into the ditch of perpetual *bitching! We will enjoy the ways of praise!
(* Editor's note: Okay. Don't get hung up on that little slang word. It once merely meant female dog, then it mostly meant females that complained too much, but now has come to mean a severely complaining, or griping, or negative attitude for any gender – that is the meaning implied here, at least - and yes I am sure there are even more and lower meanings developing as I type, which I do not care to know! Our language, sadly, IS devolving.)
However, instead of focusing on our devolving language and those who dare to use less than sterling language, we can focus on the Praise-worthiness of our God! We are free to do that! We are free to allow the Holy Spirit to improve our level of holiness day by day!
One day, perhaps I will even lose all desire to use the lower vocabulary! Hey. It could happen. I was delivered of lust and that was a much larger stronghold! Today – if we will hear His voice, let us not harden our hearts. Today let us deal with this tendency of complaining, and let us cultivate an attitude of gratitude toward our loving, gracious heavenly Father- and raise our voices in Praise to Him! Hallelujah! He Is Worthy!