Which have you spent more time doing this week: Grumbling? Or giving thanks?
Let’s be honest. We are people who easily become accustomed to and take for granted the blessings that we enjoy in life every day. In fact, it doesn’t take long before a recuring blessing in our lives becomes an expectation, a requirement or a demand.
Some of you are too young to know this, but back in the 1960’s, if you needed to open the driver’s side window in your car – or any of the windows for that matter – there was a crank you had to turn to make the window go up and down. Power windows were only available on luxury cars. I remember telling my dad we should get power windows for our cars, and hearing him explain why manual windows were more dependable and less likely to break.
I remember the first car I owned that came with power windows as standard equipment. I quickly became accustomed to the convenience of pushing a button to make my car windows go up and down. In fact, when I found myself in an older car where you still had to turn the crank to operate the windows, I found myself annoyed. My power windows, which at first had been a blessing, had quickly become a requirement.
And once something becomes an expectation, we no longer give thanks for it. We don’t give thanks when we turn on a tap and clean water comes out. We don’t give thanks when we adjust the thermostat to make the house a little cooler. We don’t often give thanks for the mailman or the people who pick up our trash. Instead, if there is a problem with the plumbing or the air conditioning, or if the trashman missed our street this week, it’s easy to grouse and grumble. At least it is for me.
The Bible makes it clear that grumbling is a sin. Think about the children of Israel, just days after their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Having been freed from the bondage and oppression that had been their lot for decades, and being cared for with supernaturally provided manna each morning, they whined. In his paraphrase of Numbers 11, Eugene Peterson describes their grumbling this way: “The misfits among the people had a craving. and soon they had the people of Israel whining, ‘Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.’”
Contrast the Israelites with the Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Philippi from a carved out prison cell in Rome that offered no creature comforts at all. Again, here is how Peterson paraphrases Paul in Philippians 4: “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Paul says he had learned “the secret of contentment.” Do you know what his secret was? All you have to do is go back a few verses in Philippians to find it. Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (And) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
We can and should be constantly putting to death our propensity for grumbling. It is corrosive for the soul. Instead, we should be cultivating gratitude. We should be on the lookout at all times for reasons to rejoice. We should be making our requests known to God, and leaving it with Him to provide for our needs. And we should be training our hearts and minds to meditate on those things in our world which are true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable (this will require us to spend less time watching cable news).
Don’t ignore grumbling in your heart, or imagine it as a minor sin. When you find yourself complaining and whining, don’t defend yourself or scramble to quickly come up with justification for your discontentedness. Instead, look for reasons to be grateful. Express your thanks to God. Replace your grumbling with gratitude. You don’t have to look far to find plenty of reasons to be thankful today.
Do you remember the email I sent you earlier this week about the church survey we’re asking you to fill out? I promised to remind you in the newsletter to log on and complete it. So here’s the reminder.
So far, 53 of you have started the survey. 31 of you have completed it (thank you!). If you’ve started, would you log on and finish up today? And if you haven’t started yet, here’s the link. Click here and get ‘er done!
Next Wednesday night is a big night for our church. We have nearly 30 children who will be taking part in our Awana program this year. We are trusting that God will water the seeds that we are planting in the hearts of these precious young ones. Please pray for them and for the leaders. And If you have any questions about Awana, feel free to email or text Kendall or Laura White.
Guys, our First Tuesday men’s meetings start next week. We’ll meet at church on Tuesday, August 30 at 6:15 for pizza, followed by our time this month with Dr. Robert Lewis, the former pastor at Fellowship Bible Church and the founder of Men’s Fraternity. He’ll be talking about how we define and embrace a biblical understanding of masculinity and manhood.
Whether you’ve been to a First Tuesday before or not, plan to join us. If you’re coming for Pizza, show up at 6:15 and bring $5. If you’re coming for the session, show up at 7:00.
Meanwhile, ladies, we have a special event planned for you too. It’s the Fall Women’s Gathering on Monday, September 12.
Then, the Fall Women’s Bible Study in the book of Proverbs will start on Monday night, September 19.
Start planning now for the Fall Women’s Retreat (who couldn’t use a couple of nights away this fall…).
Any questions about any of these activities, see Jen Gurney.
Gathering weekly for corporate worship is, by God’s design, an important part and necessary part of your faith walk. But there is more to growing spiritually than just showing up for church on Sunday.
One of the key ways we grow is by meeting regularly with other believers for fellowship, prayer, accountability and service. And at Redeemer, that happens in our weekly small group get togethers.
Our small groups will be starting up the week of September 11. If you’re not currently in a small group, you’re welcome to visit any of the five groups. Or talk to Pastor Matt for more info on our small group ministry and where you might be able to fit in.
Here’s the small group line up for this fall.
A week from this Friday is our first fall Game Night for Students.
Contact Pastor Matt if you need more info.
Since you surrendered your life to Jesus, have you publicly declared your faith in Christ by being baptized? The Bible calls us to take this initial step of faith once we have committed our lives to the Lord. It’s a step of obedience.
On Saturday afternoon, September 18, we’ll be celebrating together as we baptize a number of people who have told us they want to take this important step. If you’ve never been baptized since becoming a follower of Christ, let me urge you to do so. Contact Pastor Matt and let him know you’re interested. Or if you have any questions about baptism, let us know. We’d love to help you take this step of faith.
The Bible calls us to grow in godliness. At the same time, it warns us against self-righteousness. Jesus addressed the self-righteous religious leaders of His day, challenging them to look past their public displays of righteousness and to address the sin that was still present in their heart. We’ll take a closer look at His challenging words in the Sermon on the Mount as we gather for worship this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!