Conquering the Complaining Spirit - Purity 890
Purity 890 11/16/2022 Purity 890 Podcast
Purity 890 on YouTube:
Today’s photo of the Schodack Creek/Hudson River shrouded in mist comes to us from yours truly as I captured this haunting scene before pulling out of my driveway yesterday as the cold air temperatures and the relative warmth of the waters came together to create something that neither of them could produce on their own.
Well, It’s Wednesday and while the Lord was gracious to me in that my driveway’s black top remains black, I will have to remember the green grass in today’s photo fondly because it is currently covered in a thin veil of white snow!
However, just like yesterday’s river mist didn’t last, I don’t expect the white stuff to remain as the temperature will rise to 41 degrees and rain is in the forecast. After seeing the snow this morning, I had to ask my electronic personal assistant whose names begins with “A” when the first day of winter was. It’s not until December 21st, of course, but when the temperatures fall and the snow comes, it doesn’t really matter what the calendar says, Winter has come, even if it is early and even if this sudden appearance doesn’t exactly mean we will be living in a winter wonder land.
I knew “the change” to Winter had come Monday morning as the morning temperatures were below or right around freezing, 32 degrees, and the high was around 40. Hearing my personal assistant announce that forecast caused me to get out my waterproof winter boots and switch to my insulated hood ieand long sleave work shirt. And now snow has fallen.
The times can change in an instant and this really points out our need to be aware of what is happening around us and to be diligent to roll with the changes.
One of our local news channels shared an expected snow fall map yesterday and while I have to admit I did petition the Lord with prayer to have mercy on us, a prayer I believe has been answered – Thank You God, Thank You Jesus, Thank You Holy Spirit – I still accepted the forecast with certain of two things:
1. the forecast is not guaranteed, and subject to change, because God is in charge
2. I will be able to meet the challenges of the day regardless of the weather or any other circumstance because God is with me.
However, other people in the comments section of this post were honestly expressing how they felt about the snow. Even though what most of us in the northeast know is that snow inevitable, many in the comments section were proclaim ingtheir hate for the white stuff and their deep desire to move away from it all. The mere mention of snow had caused these people to lose whatever peace they might have had.
Of course, it is doubtful that those who were offering their complaints about the possibility of snow had any peace in the first place because when you are giving a voice to a negative comment or complaint it is probably not the first thing that you have spoken against and it is more likely that you may be oppressed if not fully possessed by a “complaining spirit”!
2:14-15 (NLT2) reminds Christians to
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing,
15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
What I can’t complain about the weather!
Well, it does say “do everything without complaining” and before you give rise to your “contentious spirit” that would like to debate that matter, the rest of the verse tells us to “do everything without… arguing” as well!
Just so you know I didn’t cherry pick this verse, okay maybe I did do a quick google search for a verse about complaining, I am going to share the fruit off that search by providing a link to openbible.info’s 100 Bible verses about complaining ( https://www.openbible.info/topics/complaining) to show that the Lord encourages us to not see our lives with a critical eye and dwell on the negative circumstances and give voice to complaints.
Why? Because it doesn’t help. Complaining steals away our peace and the peace of others.
My little ministry here is one of encouragement and I know that while it can be difficult to see the bright side on a cloudy day, because of the Lord, there is always something we can give thanks for rather than complain about things that challenge us.
Last night, I hosted the last regular session of the Freedom in Christ course on Zoom, and the power of God’s word to transform someone’s outlook on life was on display in its full glory.
One of the participants of our group testified in the beginning that he only joined the group because while he had attempted to go through the course material on his own it had left him cold and he ended up discontinuing the study because he wasn’t able to receive what the course had indicated he would get from it, namely Freedom in Christ. In our first sessions, he openly admitted that he just wasn’t “feeling it” but in his desperation and depression he had committed himself to “stay the course”.
One of the tools the course uses to identify our view of our situation is the “What I Believe” questionnaire, in which the participants are to rate how “successful, significant, satisfied, etc” they feel and to answer a fill in the blank question about how they could be more “successful, significant, and satisfied”.
This man had confessed that he had taken that questionnaire before the course and he had answered those “more” questions with a pretty worldly attitude stating that he would be more satisfied by winning the lottery, or more successful by obtaining certain positions or tangible rewards of success
. But last night, although he admitted he felt he was learning and felt he was making some progress, he didn’t think much was happening from one week to the next during the course, but when he went to answer those “more questions” this time something amazing had happened. He had come to view that the only way he y be “more” successful etc was now in reference to his relationship with the Lord and would be determined by his ability to obey and follow the Lord’s will for his life.
He was as shocked as anyone! Here was this cynic who had begrudgingly decided to step out in faith with a somewhat flinty hear of stone, testifying to how simply agreeing with the truth of God’s word and what God said about who he was in Christ had changed the way he saw the world and had changed his heart to a heart of flesh that sought to please the Lord and to serve others. Before the course, he was a complainer and saw his situation as depressing and lacking the things that he need to satisfy him but now even though he didn’t win the lottery or gain any worldly rewards, he felt he had found the way to satisfaction, through just doing the small things that God put before him and knowing that being in harmony with God was the pathway to peace.
So it’s Wednesday, there is snow on the ground and its supposed to rain, but instead of looking at what some could consider negative, if not HORRIBLE, circumstances, I choose to remember all that God has done and how He has empowered all His children to overcome any obstacles in our paths and to walk through this life with the peace and joy that goes beyond understanding.
So keep walking and talking with God. Every step you take in His direction leads you closer to Him and closer to the person He created you to be. It may not seem like you are making a lot of progress but if you stay true to keeping going in the way the Lord leads you, one day you will look back and be amazed how far you have come and how your heart which was once so hard and cold has become alive because of the love that God has poured into you.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Romans 10:13 (NLT2)
13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
Today’s verse reminds us that salvation from the Lord was the same in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament, as all who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.
The gospel of grace can not be emphasized enough in our walk. It the hope for all of us. That if we simply “call on the name of the LORD”, for us Jesus, we will be saved. We just have to put our faith in God and trust in Him.
The Apostle Paul knows Christ but He quotes Joel 2:32 here to show that the Lord has always saved those that surrender to Him in repentance.
People in the Old Testament had the promise of the Messiah and if they placed their faith in God’s and in His coming, even though they didn’t know His name, they were considered righteous. Those who trusted and obeyed the Lord in the Old Testament were saved by faith. The writer of Hebrews makes this point in Hebrews 11.
So God hasn’t changed, in Christ He has revealed what was hidden and quite frankly makes it a lot easier to know His will.
We have Jesus to put our faith in and to show the way to live. And while we should rejoice over having Christ’s example of how to live as a Christian, we should never forget that our salvation doesn’t come from our obedience.
We are only saved because of God and His mercy and grace that heard us cry for help and who showed us the truth.
We don’t have to accomplish anything to be saved. It is freely given.
Our obedience is not the way to salvation, but it naturally grows out of our salvation. And while it is our purpose to become sanctified and be pleasing to God, we should never forget that we already are pleasing to our Heavenly Father and that no matter how we fail or how we succeed, nothing can separate us from His love because one day because of our great need we called upon the name of the Lord, and have been saved ever since.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Sermon on the Mount
The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart
The Disciple and the Unbelievers Continues
When we judge, we encounter other people from the distance of observation and reflection. But love does not allot time and space to do that. For those who love, other people can never become an object for spectators to observe. Instead, they are always a living claim on my love and my service. But doesn’t the evil in other people necessarily force me to pass judgment on them, just for their own sake and because of our love for them? We recognize how sharply the boundary is drawn. Love for a sinner, if misunderstood, is frightfully close to love for the sin. But Christ’s love for the sinner is itself the condemnation of sin; it is the sharpest expression of hatred against sin. It is that unconditional love, in which Jesus’ disciples should live in following him, that achieves what their own disunited love, offered according to their own discretion and conditions, could never achieve, namely, the radical condemnation of evil.
If the disciples judge, then they are erecting standards to measure good and evil. But Jesus Christ is not a standard by which I can measure others. It is he who judges me and reveals what according to my own judgment is good to be thoroughly evil. This prohibits me from applying a standard to others which is not valid for me. When I judge, deciding what is good or evil, I affirm the evil in other persons, because they, too, judge according to good and evil. But they do not know that what they consider good is evil. Instead, they justify themselves in it. If I judge their evil, that will affirm their good, which is never the goodness of Jesus Christ. They are withdrawn from Christ’s judgment and subjected to human judgment. But I myself invoke God’s judgment on myself, because I am no longer living out of the grace of Jesus Christ, but out of a knowledge of good and evil. I become subject to that judgment which I think valid. For all persons, God is a person’s God in the way the person believes God to be.
Judging is the forbidden evaluation of other persons. It corrodes simple love. Love does not prohibit my having my own thoughts about others or my perceiving their sin, but both thoughts and perceptions are liberated from evaluating them. They thereby become only an occasion for that forgiveness and unconditional love Jesus gives me. My refraining from judgment of others does not validate tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner; it does not concede that the other person is somehow right after all. Neither I nor the other person is right. God alone, God’s grace and judgment is proclaimed to be right.
Judging others makes us blind, but love gives us sight. When I judge, I am blind to my own evil and to the grace granted the other person. But in the love of Christ, disciples know about every imaginable kind of guilt and sin, because they know of the suffering of Jesus Christ. At the same time, love recognizes the other person to be one who received forgiveness under the cross. Love sees the other person under the cross, and that is what enables it to have true sight. If my intent in passing judgment were really to destroy evil, then I would seek evil where it really threatens me, namely, in myself. But the fact that I seek evil in another person reveals that in such judgments I am really seeking to be right myself, that I want to avoid punishment for my own evil by judging another person. All judging presupposes the most dangerous self-deception, namely, that the word of God applies differently to me than it does to my neighbor. I claim an exceptional right in that I say: forgiveness applies to me, but condemnation applies to the other person. Judgment as arrogation of false justice about one’s neighbor is totally forbidden to the disciples. They did not receive special rights for themselves from Jesus, which they ought to claim before others. All they receive is communion with him.
But it is not only judging words which are forbidden to the disciples. Proclaiming salvific words of forgiveness to others also has its limits. Jesus’ disciples do not have the power and the right to force them on anyone at any time. All our urging, running after people, proselytizing, every attempt to accomplish something in another person by our own power is in vain and dangerous. In vain—because swine do not recognize the pearls thrown before them; dangerous—because not only does this defile words of forgiveness, not only does it make the other person I am to serve into a sinner against holy gifts, but even the disciples who are preaching are in danger of being needlessly and pointlessly harmed by the blind fury of hardened and darkened hearts. Squandering cheap grace disgusts the world. Then the world will turn violently on those who want to force on it what it does not desire. This signifies for the disciples a serious limitation on their work. It agrees with the directive in Matthew 10 to shake from their feet the dust of any place that does not hear the word of peace. The driving restlessness of the group of disciples, who do not want to accept any limitation on their effectiveness, and their zeal, which does not respect resistance, confuses the word of the gospel with a conquering idea. An idea requires fanatics, who neither know nor respect resistance. The idea is strong. But the Word of God is so weak that it suffers to be despised and rejected by people. For the Word, there are such things as hardened hearts and locked doors. The Word accepts the resistance it encounters and bears it. It is a cruel insight: nothing is impossible for the idea, but for the gospel there are impossibilities. The Word is weaker than the idea. Likewise, the witnesses to the Word are weaker than the propagandists of an idea. But this weakness liberates them from the sick restlessness of a fanatic; they suffer with the Word. Disciples may retreat, or even flee, as long as they are retreating and fleeing with the Word, as long as their weakness is the weakness of the Word itself, as long as they do not abandon the Word in their flight. They are nothing but servants and tools of the Word, and should not want to be strong when the Word is weak. If they wanted to force the Word onto the world by all means, then they would make the living Word of God into an idea, and the world will justifiably fight back against an idea which cannot help it at all. But it is as weak witnesses that they do not flee, but remain—to be sure, only where the Word is. Disciples who would know nothing about this weakness of the Word would not have come to know the secret of God’s lowliness. This weak Word, which suffers contradiction by sinners, is the only strong, merciful Word, that can make sinners repent from the bottom of their hearts. The Word’s power is veiled in weakness. If the Word came in full, unveiled power, that would be the final judgment day. The great task of recognizing the limits of their mission is given to the disciples. But when the Word is misused, it will turn against them.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship