Today marked the last Sunday the Rock Church will meet at Montezuma Hall in SDSU. Next week we will begin meeting at the new location on Ruffin Road.
We Do But We Don't
Pastor Miles opened this Sunday morning's message with a story about a friend he knows who is involved in a church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in a small group within that church. The small group was discussing a decision the church had made because they were in disagreement with how the church was spending their money during a time when they needed to raise money.
The church was planning an event at an exclusive social club that seemed rather expensive to rent to hold the event. So a member of that small group decided that it was necessary to confront the pastor of the church about how the church's money was being spent on the use of the club during a time when they really needed to raise money. However, the pastor's reply to the confrontation was that the club they were using was donated to them. More importantly though the pastor thought that based upon his relationship with the person who came to him that there would have been greater trust in the decision he made.
Needless to say there is a valuable lesson learned from this story. Our whole life is spent with God leading us through the wilderness. There will always be situations we face we are not going to like. However, the situations we don't like, or don't agree with, do not give us a right to complain about them. So why do we still continue to complain?
As we have gone through the book of Exodus, we've watched God supernaturally deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. However, they kept on complaining despite God's mighty hand at work in them. When a situation we don't like arises we can deal with it in two ways. We can complain about it, or we can resolve to not complain and therefore, come up with a solution. However, we cannot complain ourselves or someone else into a solution.
We may think we have the right to complain about the unpleasant aspects of life but we really don't! Philippians 2:14-15 states, Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Pastor Miles defined complaining as malicious whispering of slander. Being a slanderer implies that the slanderer is without fault and has more knowledge or wisdom than another person. Also when we complain we make everything about ourselves. Therefore, when we complain about things we are looking at the situation in a selfish way. Who wants to be a selfish slanderer?
Instead our desire ought to be to abstain from complaining altogether. In Exodus we see many reasons why we should.
Full of Complaining or Full of Joy
The more we complain the more immature we are. When we complain we stifle God, and therefore miss out on experiencing the full joy God has to offer us. Not one complainer found their way into the Promise Land, just as we will not find true joy in the Lord if we have a constant attitude of complaining.
In Exodus 15 after Moses brought the Israelites through the Red Sea they came into the wilderness, but they found no drinkable water there and were very thirsty.
Exodus 15:24-26 states, and the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you."
When we complain we are not trusting God to handle all our needs. The Israelites needed to stop complaining and just obey God. Likewise we need to do the same. Though God didn't need to prove Himself, He had shown though all the miraculous acts He performed in Egypt, that He has everything under control. The Israelites should have trusted God and stopped complaining.
The same is to be said for us. God is constantly at work in our lives, and has shown Himself faithful. Therefore, complaining shouldn't find its way into our hearts and mouths and therefore we can be full of joy when we trust God and obey Him in everything.
Trust in God's Plan
As the Israelites continued to journey through the wilderness with Moses they only continued to complain, worrying that God would not meet their needs.
Exodus 16:2-3 states, then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Exodus 17:3,6 states, And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst" Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.
God demonstrated that He could supply for their every need, that He could bring something from nothing.
All we have to do is trust His plan, and we will find no reason to complain or worry about what happens.
The Remedy For Complaining
For many of us if not all, complaining is a part of our life and is something that we regularly and naturally do. So how do we overcome complaining? There is a remedy. Instead of just complaining about something or some situation, offer a solution. When we look at how we can help someone or a situation, we won't find ways to complain about it. Helping can liberate us from complaining.
We see this remedy demonstrated in Exodus 17:8-13 which states, Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Aaron and Hur could have sat there and watched Moses, and complained to him, wondering why Moses couldn't have garnered the strength to hold the rod on his own, or why he didn't prepare ahead of time to have the strength to hold the rod. But Aaron and Hur did not do that; instead they stepped in and helped when they saw the need.
Focus on Your Gifts
God has gifted every believer with at least one spiritual gift. It is vital that as Christians we step out and use the gifts that God has so graciously given us. If we are dissatisfied with our lives, or even the progress of our own church, we could be inclined to complain about the situation of things. Instead we need to focus on using our gifts as God has called us to for the further growth of the body of believers, and therefore stifle complaining within the church and ourselves.
By using the gifts God has given us we can experience the full joy of the Lord in our lives. It is time to stop complaining, to step up and get involved, and ask God what it is He wants us to do!