Mud Slinging

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Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I was a little girl, my family spent a great deal of time at the beach. My grandmother and I would sit on the edge of the surf where the water’s edge would almost reach us and the sand was wet to build sandcastles. It was there she taught me to create “drip” castles. Taking a handful of saturated sand, holding it up and letting it drip – you create a sandcastle by moving your hand around to create a monument. It almost resembles a mountain with tall peaks resembling turrets. I have been thinking lately if our words may be the very essence of some of the mountains in our life. Words thoughtlessly released or aimed directly at another that hardened into doubt or even offense. I wonder if the dripping sarcasm or biting dissatisfaction is weighting down the very thing that we are requesting the Lord to remove.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a tall order. Our life is built around convenience, comfort and control. When one of these three are threatened, our pride and selfishness quickly work to construct the foundation as to not interrupt these “vital” necessities of life. Crying out to the Lord to move a mountain, but then firmly packing it in place with words thought to be idle and careless maybe just a release only to stand in frustration before the insurmountable thing which we cannot seem to overcome. What does your mountain look like? Is it made of grumbling, complaining and constant whining?

Pure and blameless” faith comes from a heart that is confident in God’s Salvation and Sovereignty. His Ability to now only save you but sustain you in life. Faith, even in the smallest measure, will move any mountain. I wonder if our faith is being choked out or suffocated by a barrage of worthless banter. If I am complaining about my life as a Child of God, I am telling the world that He is simply not enough. I am confirming their doubt that He is not a saving God full of unconditional love and amazing grace. I am actually feeding the darkness rather than creating new light.

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of the world now lives in us. Is He shining brightly today? Are you confident that He lives in you and works through you? Do you believe that the Lord is working every detail of your life for good as the Word of God tells us in Romans 8:28? Reading just a little further, are you confident that nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God and that you have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ? See if we believed, our conversation would change. Our way of conversation would shine brightly with confidence that His Love is enough to overcome the mountain of doubt rather than constantly fortifying doubt with mud-slinging words and negative connotation. We give our God and His Son a bad reputation when our words and heart are out of alignment.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will give account on the day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” What is your daily conversation? Do you listen to the words coming out of your mouth each day? God does. He judges us for the abundance of idle and worthless words that are empty. God has filled us with good fruit. His Spirit gives us the ability and abundance to pour out for others. Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Did you think it was for you? The generosity of God is poured into us to be released into the darkness of this world and fill it with the Light of His Love. To feed the hungry physically, emotionally and spiritually with the Word of our testimony. Seed left in the silo will not grow it must be put in fertile ground to grow, develop, mature and reproduce. What is your testimony today? In Revelation, it tells us that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb AND the Word of our testimony? What are you saying about the Lord? Grumbling, complaining, and negativity are born of a hard heart that has not discovered the satisfaction born of faith and hope. Has fear, doubt and anxiety filled your heart with negativity and doubt?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” It is my responsibility to monitor the words flowing from my lips. Fresh water cannot come from a salty or even stagnant pond. My words should build and not destroy. Build others up. Build my faith in God. Build a solid foundation of faith rather than adding weight the mountain I am trying to overcome. Faith-full words speak things not yet seen into existence welcoming God’s Spirit to do His Work, not grieving Him, but rather moving “me” out of the way. Bitterness is the root choking out the goodness God is doing in us and through us when we decide that His Word, Will or Way is not for us. It is absolutely for you. Faith makes the unseen hope we have a reality. It moves mountains of doubt out of the way so that we can become one with Christ enjoying all of His Benefits, Promises and Prosperity.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Today I must consider the conversations I will have and monitor closely my communication with others. Every word I speak is important as it tells of the contents of my heart. I have some mountains still to be removed. I have some doubt that must be washed away with the Word. When building drip castles on the beach, I did not see the significance of the lesson the Lord would teach me in that moment. “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

My grandmother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I miss her every day. Soon it will be my turn to build drip castles on the beach with my grandson, I want my conversation be filled with faith that will build him into a mighty man of God – full of life and favor. I must first build that kind of heart in me. I cannot share a faith I do not own for it is not mine to give. My Gram introduced me to Jesus and I hope to have the same privilege with him one day building sandcastles on the beach. Until then, it is up to me to take captive every thought contrary to faith before it leaves my mouth and cast it back where it came from. To allow the Water of the Word to wash away fear and doubt just as high tide melts sandcastles along the beach. It is important in overcoming the fears, doubts and insecurities that compromise my faith and hinder my hope to take make sure my heart and mouth agree on a daily basis. It is no easy task but always well worth the effort. Mud-slinging words filled with complaining and grumbling feel way better leaving me but then harden into yet another weight keeping my mountain from budging an inch much less melting in the sea. We must put away childish conversation and speak the words of our Father each day.

Lord, let every word I speak be pleasing to you. Pull out every root of bitterness and plant a new seed of faith in the void left behind. Strengthen my heart and remind my soul that you are my confident hope. I have new life in you, Jesus and Your Promises are for me. I give You my heart, mind, soul and body to you again. Lord, use me and my words to bring You glory today. You are worthy of it all.

Revelation 12:10-12 (NIV) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!

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The Complaint Department

The Complaint Department

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, 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. Hold firmly to the word of life…

Like vines and brush across a narrow path, I tried to step over it but tripped instead. The last several weeks have been trying. As potential begins to yield purpose, and breakthrough is just around the corner – opposition always rises up. With come the words hard to swallow, the complaints and grumbling of our flesh with deep offense at the conditions of life or circumstances surrounding us. It is a bitter pill to swallow laced with pride and indignation. Peter gave in to it from time to time and as one of the most vocal disciples it creeps up in the Bible’s text. In John 19:27, Peter in a sharp discussion with the Lord says these words, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Unmet expectation is the faith stealing, joy killer and hope buster that is problematic for many believers. When God does not do it the way one thinks that He should, or perhaps when we think He would or even worse according to our idea of how it should have been done. I have given up everything to follow you Jesus now this… ever feel that way? I do sometimes when I let complaining take over my life.

For God is working in you… I was talking to a gentleman about to undergo radiation therapy for cancer. He knows that our son also had extensive radiation. Talking with him, I did not want to create an unrealistic expectation of the treatment. It is an excellent weapon against cancer. It starts off relatively painless just a bit of a sensation inside. Over time as the therapy progresses, it begins to work its way from the inside of the pinpoint laser delivering it to manifest on the outside. It can cause the surface of the skin to have symptoms that rise up from the inside where the radiation is concentrated. There may be some collateral damage. Most importantly with any type of cancer therapy, because they are all unpleasant, it is important to stay focused on the goal. Remission. A clean PET scan. An extension of our natural life. We must always keep our eyes on the destination because there will be obstacles along the way if the journey is worth the outcome. As God works inside of us, our flesh dies. I used to say at the gym, “Sweat is the tears of fat slowly dying.” If you have given the Lord permission, invited Him to work things out in your life for His Good and Glory, expect your situation to change. Know that He is changing you. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Friend, it is always, always worth it.

“Giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him…” I want to please the Lord with my natural life. Some do and some don’t. Some will actually pass on eternal life because of the fear of letting go of some things here and not being satisfied with the outcome. Why must the Lord change my desire? Because I will always want less than He has for me, settle for substitutions, and in the name of comfort compromise. It is my nature. I must change the way that I think, move, breathe and exist to allow the God inside of me to make His Way out into my life. It all begins inside of me. Big gulp…the hardest part comes next.

“Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or complaining.” Ugh! There it is – spoiler alert – it is a Biblical mandate on my life to stop grumbling and complaining. God knows every detail of my life even when this passage was written centuries before my birth. He knew me and supplied all the grace and power necessary for me to overcome every obstacle thanks to the Christ in me. The pressures of life often give way to complaining. I will be the first to admit – I have been complaining about my job a lot lately. I love my job. It is a good position. However, it has been an exceptionally tough season with a gigantic transition. It is not going to last a short time but is clearly going to be awhile before things come together and are in order. The extreme conditions make complaining seem natural and acceptable…for some. I am not of this world. The Power in me is far greater than any circumstance or situation in my life. Do my words express His Power or give precedence to my problem?

James 3:2 (NLT) For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:8-12 (NLT) But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

In our last house, there was a swimming pool. One step in caring for the pool was testing the water to make sure the chemicals were just right and favorable for swimming. When there was a great deal of rain, it would wash pollen and other naturally occurring substances into the pool creating a high phosphate level that required special treatment. It was more expensive than other chemicals but necessary to keep the water clean and clear. The home test kits did not pick up the level of phosphates. It would be discovered by the chemical analyzer at the pool store. The professionals would have to find it and give me the proper treatment. In life, rain is going to fall. Storms will come. The atmosphere of our life is not always favorable. Let’s face it. Bad things happen to good people. It is important that in such conditions – we test the content and quality of our conversation. What are we saying? Who are we saying it to? Are my words filled with life or death? Praise or contempt? Who are they directed at? The Word of God is the litmus test of life for the believer. It guides, instructs and teaches us the knowledge needed to apply to our life and create wisdom. Wisdom is the lifestyle of those who are blessing and prosperous. When I decide that I am dissatisfied with my life, I am telling God that He is not meeting my expectations or doing a good job. No one else. My life belongs to Jesus Christ. If it is not what I think it should be, He is the One responsible to change it. Not my family, my friends, my boss or coworkers – Jesus is the One.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

If the Word of God concerning my life is true and if Jesus truly is set on giving me a rich and satisfying life while doing more than I can even think to ask for, it is all about the waiting. He has given a place of refuge and peace to wait in called the watchtower. I stand guard over my heart in that place by filtering my words through the Word of God and listing His Promises not my problems. It is the place where my vision aligns with His Perspective rather than focusing on the conditions of life as I know it. I see through eyes of faith the confident hope that I have in Him. The kind of hope that never leads to disappointment and is worth waiting for. Impatience in the waiting gives way to grumbling and complaining. Complaining sows seeds of doubt and fear that become bitterness if continually fed with more grumbling. Pride feeds on the harvest of complaining and suddenly it gives way to wandering and disobedience as one decides if it’s going to happen then I must do it myself.

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel complained about freedom and wanted to go back into slavery. Fear of the unknown will often compel us back to what is known. Don’t go. There was a group of Levites who did not like their position in ministry, so they complained to Moses. Shortly after, the ground opened, swallowing them and all their possessions. Complaining will forfeit our new life in Christ to become absorbed by the world and worldly things that bring temporary satisfaction rather than long-term completion. In Nehemiah, Judah gave way to complaining. The ones who led worship were tired and let others know. Who would lead the worshippers if the praise team quit? Job of all people felt the right to complain. (Job 6) But in Job 10, Job has reached an all-time low and says, “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. Complaining always sows seeds of bitterness. Every time you utter the slightest dissatisfaction in your condition in Christ, it is a seed that must be dealt with.

When our son was undergoing radiation, about two-thirds of the way through his skin began to “break down”. This means that the heat of the radiation burning away the cancer was also destroying his skin. Our middle son is extremely fair. His skin turned a bright red and one morning just started to break open with intense heat rising from the wounds. I will not gross you out with details or descriptions but all I could think of as I attempted to offer comfort and apply the ointment was he has every right to complain. I told him that very thing and he said to me, “Mom, what good would it do if I complained? Would it make cancer go away? Would it make the pain stop? Would it do anything for me? No. So I am not going to complain because it will do no good.” Such profound words from an unsuspecting college student thrust into a life uncertain. I will never forget that moment when my heart broke open and I asked the Lord to forgive my wayward and wandering heart. I needed the coal from His Altar to touch my lips that complained about the hard bed with the plastic cover that was a bit uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

Your life may not be extreme today. Just filled with “ordinary” problems and some “inconvenient” problems, what you do with such opportunities are game changers in life. Complaining does nothing but complicate things. It is unclear our position. Our heart begins to waver uncertain of its commitment. Soon our thoughts give way to discouragement and then disappointment not of God but to whom we give all credit. Take your right hand. Put it firmly over your mouth. Say with me, through your tight clasped fingers, “Holy Spirit, filter my words for life today and remove any foul thing among them. Teach me your vocabulary to replace my doubt-filled vernacular. Give me wisdom to speak your praise when I want to grumble and complain. Let me see the Face of Jesus rather than focusing on the giants today.

“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…”

Micah 6:1-3 (NLT) Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints. And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord’s complaint! He has a case against his people. He will bring charges against Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!

The Lord invites you to His Complaint Department today. The watchtower is open. It is a waiting room. It is His Presence. The place to leave all unmet expectation so the Lord can complete His Good Work uninterrupted by fear or doubt but pushed on by our faith in His Faithfulness. Our words should always express allegiance to Jesus Christ. Complaining and grumbling gives glory to a weak and inattentive god who doesn’t exist rather than an all-powerful, ever-present and always on-time God who is good and gives His Glory to His Children. What will you do with your words today? Life and power are in the tongue. It is up to you to decide how to use it. In His Presence, there is a new perspective. When His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness make it into our thick and hard hearts, suddenly there is very little to complain and grumble about because He is enough to change our heart and mind. God you are good! Help me to silence complaining and dismiss it from my life. You are a Good God. You are more than enough!

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

Am I Content?

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I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Am I content? Am I satisfied? Did you know that contentment and satisfaction are two different things? Our purpose in Christ is to become complete. Satisfaction is completion. Our faith is tested so that endurance grows within us producing the fruit of God’s Spirit so that we will become fully developed, perfect and needing nothing. (James 1:4) In a world motivated by supply and demand, it is hard to discern sometimes what real satisfaction looks like or how it may be achieved. The Word of God tells us that true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. Contentment is not satisfaction but rather the idea that in all circumstances, conditions and situations that it is well with my soul.

I brought nothing into this world. However; once arrived it becomes a life of acquisition. From the earliest age, images are placed in the minds of children that they “need” things to be content. Parents with good intentions fill their kid’s lives with all the “things” they never had trying to give them a better life. If I have food and clothing, I should be content. Am I? Are you? It is important that believers discover the meaning of contentment and strive for it in this life. Otherwise, distractions and detours will take over as the demand for more takes over and we forget that less is more in the Kingdom. The first will be last. Less of me. More of Him. I must decrease. He must increase in my life. Satisfaction is fulfillment. Contentment is our disposition until it arrives.

To understand the concept of contentment, I looked it up in the dictionary. The meaning is to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else. Wow! Not very encouraging… What does the Bible say about contentment? Believe it or not – the dictionary offered the Bible’s perspective in great detail on the meaning of contentment. Contentment as the world sees it is weakness. It means to settle for what life hands you and just be mediocre if that is your “lot” or some random throw of fate’s dice. When I take this meaningless, mediocre existence I have on the earth and invest it in Jesus Christ suddenly my life as extraordinary and supernatural potential. Contentment is the waiting place for God’s People. It is where we grow, develop and mature while God takes every detail of our life and works it for His Glory. Lord, I desire contentment today. Teach me to be content.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Contentment is the state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to their lot in life whatever that may be. I believe that God will generously provide all I need. I say that but do I believe that. God supplies seed to the sower. If I am not giving from my current supply, there is no need to increase it. The beginning of contentment is to set our heart and mind on God’s Will for our life. To decide that His Purpose and His Glory are what is desired over money, influence and earthly power. We cannot go in two different directions. I must choose my destination. Money is nothing more than a tool or resource in life. Contentment is a heart condition not based on what I have or have not. It doesn’t pursue God’s Hand but is intent on knowing His Heart.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

Believe it or not, I found this “Biblical” definition of contentment listed in the dictionary. “It arises from an inward disposition and is the offspring of humility and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude (righteousness) and benignity (favor) of divine providence, the greatness of divine promises and our unworthiness, as well as, the gospel opens us up to rest and peace forever.” Contentment is clearly a product of faith or our inward disposition of hope that stems from a relationship with Jesus Christ alone. It is the “offspring” of humility. Pride is man over God – humility exalts Christ above all things. Faith is intelligent consideration of God’s Righteousness – the part of Him that does not lie or change His Mind because He is always right and always exceeding in goodness towards us. The favor of God is for us. He pursues us daily with unfailing love and goodness. To receive it means to make the intellectual choice to repent and turn around to receive it. I cannot have God’s Righteousness and Favor in my life completely that produces contentment if I am a heart divided chasing after other things.

The greatest asset of my faith is confident hope that affords me rest and peace right in the middle of the uncertainty of the life I live in this world. It means that no matter what occurs in my “temporary” residence I do not invest eternal confidence in those things that will rot and decay fully trusting the Lord for full satisfaction. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

I can do all things through Christ is to value the Lord above all things. To put Him at the center of our life including mind, soul and body without excluding all natural and spiritual pursuits. He is the priority in all things to those who desire contentment that leads to full satisfaction and completion. This is an ongoing process in a world filled with the contrary. We must take control of our thoughts, emotions, and desires turning our passion from worldly things to invest them fully in Jesus Christ.

There are five things that contentment opposes. These are critical in evaluating our current state of mind and if contentment is our mindset.

  1. Contentment opposes envy.

“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:16) Do you envy what other people have or the life they live? Do you get mad when others are blessed? Envy is the root of bitterness that strangles contentment is us. It dims the light of God’s Love in us. Confidence is shattered in comparison because I can only see the outward product and cannot see the source. All that glitters is not gold. You do not know their circumstances or situation. You cannot see their heart. We must not allow jealously to ruin us from the inside out.

  1. Contentment opposes greed.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Money cannot satisfy our soul. It cannot save us. It cannot heal us. It cannot deliver us in all things. When the money runs out or is not enough, what then? I shared with someone yesterday the story of our son who was denied coverage for the treatment that ultimately put him in remission. He would have died without it. The price of human life was about $300,000. What is the price of a human life? The world places a limited sum on your head. I hope you will never find out what that is. Jesus Christ decided you were priceless. Worth having to the extent that He died just to give you life and spend eternity with you. Do you always want more? Is your job more important that church? Church feeds our soul. To come together as believers is agreement that prospers our life. What is your priority? God’s Word asks us to tithe just ten percent giving back to the Lord just a tenth of the monetary wealth that He gives us. Do you tithe?

  1. Contentment opposes ambition.

“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10) Humility is the offspring of contentment. Human ambition and drive runs over a whole lot of people every day. It is a dog eat dog world. Life is not fair so often it is the source of discontentment. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people get good things. I am not a resident of this world but a temporary resident who has allegiance to a far greater Kingdom. It is my absolute faith and confident hope that will allow me to lay my life down now to have it all. Are you humble? Do you think if you don’t do it nobody else will? Do you look down on others or lend a hand to pull them up?

  1. Contentment opposes anxiety.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

When I worry, stress and become anxious – I am no longer content. On those days when I feel such emotions overtaking my mind, stealing my joy, and compromising my confidence, it is an instant sign that I need to run into the Presence of God. To be content is confidence in God’s Love, Favor and Goodness to fully supply our life and satisfy our soul. To worry is to doubt. Doubt is evidence of disbelief. Disbelief means I need to fortify my faith. I do this by feeding on the Word, diving into my prayer closet, and praising my way out. We must be constantly aware of this condition and seek the Lord to overcome it. These are not the seeds that produce the abundant harvest of promises that is promised by God to His Children.

And finally (as if I wasn’t already convicted enough):

  1. Contentment opposes complaining.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, 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.” (Philippians 2:13-15)

What is the confession of your mouth over your current condition or situation? If set our heart and mind on praise and promises, it will come pouring out of mouth. The Holy Spirit will remind us of all of God’s Promises if we feed our heart, mind and soul God’s Word deciding it is the truth that prevails in our life. When I complain, I am saying that God is not able to do what He promised. I am declaring that the Grace of Jesus Christ is not enough for me. I am professing discontentment with the Lord because He is my provider. Ouch! Lord, I ask you to forgive me for all the times I have unjustly complained about your provision and blessings in my life. Give me a heart that always resounds in praise and thankfulness for You indeed have been so good to me.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you content today? You don’t have to be satisfied with who you are or where you are because God is still working to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It takes time to work out every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) It takes a lot of time and energy to fully invest our life in the Lord and allow Him to help us work out our salvation. (Philippians 2:12) The Lord has promised us His Goodness IN the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) It is my absolute belief, complete faith and confident hope that allows me to be content while God has His Way in my life. It doesn’t mean to settle for anything but rather engage in the process of completion with peace of mind, rest and wellness in our soul. God is not finished with the masterpiece called you. Don’t rush the project or abandon it altogether just because what you see currently is not what you want or think you need. I must examine my own heart today. I must uproot everything that opposes contentment in my life and plant seedling promises from His Word in my heart. God will do exactly as He promised. I must only trust Him. Thankfulness must overtake those thoughtless words and accusations. God is good. He is good father and perfect provider. It is well with my soul.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

No Complaints

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Psalm 34:12-14 (NKJV)

Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

 

Life is hard. It is filled with imperfect people and difficult circumstances that persistently apply pressure to God’s People. God uses these situations to grow, develop and mature our faith be able to withstand the test of time. Those who desire life and loves may days that he may seed good…we live for eternity and also here and now. How can we change the atmosphere of our life? How can we take something and difficult to make it a positive gesture? We absolutely have the power to do so because greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. It all depends on the contents of our heart. This is easy to discover for those who will listen to their own words on a continually basis. Jesus said that the abundance of our heart is what the mouth speaks. Like an overflowing fruit basket full of fine fruit until the one on the very bottom is discovered with a bad spot that is bitter to the taste and sickening to the stomach. It should not be eaten but quickly discarded. Many times if a bad apple is found in the bag, no one wants the rest of the fruit in fear it may be going bad as well. A moldy piece of bread condemns the entire loaf whether there is another spot or not. So it is with people who live and work around us.

 

I have a good friend who is not a believer. After many conversations, it is easy to discover the problem. Over lunch, she confided that I was the only Christian who she knew that she could tolerate. It was not the message of love and hope that I tried to share with her but her experience with hypocritical people who did not share God’s Love but only condemnation and judgment. Who needs that? We all know the condition of our life. Pride hides all the dirty little secrets. Our heart is a fortress of insecurity and knowledge of the things we have tried and failed. Where is the Light of God’s Love? Where is the hope given to us for the waiting, watching, and wandering world? It is often buried in worthless conversation and endless complaining.

 

By nature, I am a positive person. Whether I was born that way or chose such behavior to navigate a difficult childhood early on, it is who I am. Coming to Christ made my dreams turn to hope. His Word gave me a life to aspire to. It changed my communication or so I thought. Life and death are in power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) It is true. We are told to speak life but if we do not know what it means to have eternal life and believe it, our mouth will continue to crush our ministry. The lost will remain so and the signs, wonders and miracles of revival never come to pass. You have the power to change the atmosphere of your life. Your home, job, and even your church for starters. It is when we take responsibility for our words that we begin to see the contents of our heart and can decide whether we will be live givers or takers.

 

Isaiah 29:20-24 (NKJV)

For the terrible one is brought to nothing, the scornful one is consumed, and all who watch for iniquity are cut off—who make a man an offender by a word, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just by empty words. Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.”

 

For the terrible one is brought to nothing. The enemy has no power whatsoever over the life of a Blood-bought believer. The only authority that he has in our life is that which is given to him. He can come close to you. Stalk you. Trash talk you. He can even manipulate the weak and helpless for his cause, BUT if you are a saved and sanctified Child of the Living God – his ability to torment you stops right there. With that begin said, I hear all the time about what the enemy is doing to people. What about what the Lord is doing on our behalf? If the enemy is battling against your life, it is because God has great purpose and potential for you. The challenges and struggles that put our feet to the fire increase our faithfulness when the trial is withstood. It is that moment it is revealed all that the Lord was doing behind the scenes as He made “all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His Purpose. Don’t let the enemy trick you into talking more about Him than praising God for the outcomes of faith which make the impossible a reality.

 

Our words can make us offenders against God. Truly the contents of our heart are evidenced in our daily communication. We will be judged for every idle word. (Matthew 12:36) As believers who are intent on being Children of God and one day entering His Kingdom forever, we must become gatekeepers of our words and examiners of our heart to be found righteous when it matters most. But as for today, our words lead to life or death. They bring us into agreement with God or direct opposition – note there are only two choices. Our errant spirit is brought back into alignment by the Word of God applied to our life as wisdom and sound doctrine. Godly wisdom affirms the hope found in Jesus that will quench our complaints as confidence ends our fear and doubt so faith can grow.

 

Philippians 2:12-16 (NKJV)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 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, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

 

To live in the dispensation of Grace freely given to us by God is to relinquish our right to complain and argue. We have been completed and fulfilled in Christ. Our expectation now is in Him alone. Therefore, we have no right to be offended by others. We are mandated to love them no matter what and forgive them no matter how grave the offense. The Word of God tells us to do ALL things without complaining or disputing. But… Well… Yeah I have no recourse. To be found blameless and harmless in God’s Sight, I must become a light in the darkness and hold fast the Word of life over my right to be right or to be treated justly by the world I live in. It is my profound privilege in Jesus Christ to speak life to all I come in contact with. Do all things, everything without complaining. Brace yourself the next one is tough…

 

Psalm 77:1-3 (NKJV)

I cried out to God with my voice—to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah

 

I warned you. Complaining is our soul refusing to be comforted by God and accept His Promises. The enemy is not keeping you from anything, it is our own fickle and unyielding heart that still holds onto what can be seen rather than the unseen. Hope is hope only if it unseen and unattainable outside of God’s Intervention. It is how we are overwhelmed. This is the moment that we surrender our power and authority to the enemy allowing him to move in and overtake us.

 

Women – we can be the worst. We whine, complain and grumble about our husbands, children and friends. Those we love the most are often abused in our communication with other women in the midst of comradery. It is social acceptable to be discontent. It is interesting if we complain to become connected. Gossip veiled in phrases like “bless her heart” are killing us softly from the inside out. Deceptively asking others to pray for us or those around us just to share the latest mess or muster up sympathy. I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman which means that I must learn to speak with wisdom and live the Law of Love beginning with each word. (Proverbs 31:26)

 

We are to speak with a new tongue. (Mark 16:16-18) I am know that I am filled with the Holy Spirit and possess a prayer language called tongues. But in this passage, I cannot help but wonder if the Lord is not speaking as the passage in Isaiah when the seraphim touched the prophet’s tongue with a coal from the altar. Is this not a call for clean communication and refined speech? I wonder if we spoke life in our homes, workplace and churches if the signs, wonders and miracles might return. Are they torn apart before they manifest by our backbiting language and choice not to love? Life and death are in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

 

What would happen if our goal in each day was to utter only praise and only say what God has to say? Would it make a difference? I think so. When Moses petitioned the Lord, yet again, concerning his wayward bunch of wanderers in Numbers 11:1-3, it was because their complaining had sparked God’s Anger. Complaining displeases the Lord. It is a sinful problem that must be dealt with to enter the Promises of God and live in His Peace.

 

Colossians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

 

I share this story many times so if you have heard it before my apologies. When our son was undergoing cancer treatment including chemotherapy and radiation, we stayed in a facility provided by the American Cancer Society free of cost. I stayed with him in a one bedroom suite so I could care for him. The twin bed was hard with a plastic mattress cover that crinkled when you moved. Throughout the night, I the steady clicking of the machine that provided nourishment through the feeding tube kept me awake. With neighbors on either side, if someone could not sleep or was ill you could hear it through the thin walls. Toward the end of his treatment, I was getting up for an early morning appointment. My body ached from the uncomfortable bed and exhaustion. As I woke him up, the effects of radiation were evident. I could feel the heat in the darkness so I turned on the light. His ears were separating from his head as the skin was burning and breaking down from the inside out. The ointment on my fingers would melt before I could get it to his skin. He would wince as tears ran down his face silently. Not a word. He did not cry out. He did not complain. He did not gripe or grumble. I told him that it was okay to voice a complaint or tell God this “stunk” not my exact words to be honest. He looked at me and said, “What good will complaining do? It won’t change anything and I only see it making it worse.” I felt so small in the midst of such wisdom. His words were sent by the Lord to instruct me that day. I cannot escape the wisdom in them even today now that the battle is won. Normal life does not impact me as it used to. Complaining is not worth the breath or energy offered. It is in constantly expressing our affirmation and acceptance of the Lord, His Will, His Way and His Word in our life that changes the atmosphere and conditions of our life.

 

Grumbling and complaining expresses dissatisfaction with God’s Love and Care for us. It is evidence of some level of disbelief that is keeping you and I from God’s Very Best. Faith is expressed when no matter what the circumstances or consequences of our life may be our words are filled with praise and adoration for the God we serve and His Son – Jesus Christ. Not just chosen words, but every idle word. Lord, flag those words that I speak today contradictory to your Word, Will and Way. When I complain, immediately convict me. If I grumble, remind me to stop. I want my soul to prosper in You today. I want my heart to overflow with kindness, love and grace as I have been shown by You. May every word I speak plant seeds of life in all who I come in contact with until it blooms into a beautiful garden of life in the midst of the Light of Your Love for us. Lord, I must live with no complaints!

 

I Peter 4:8-10 (NKJV)

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Stop Complaining – A Devotion

 

Psalm 142

I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.

 

In the darkness before daylight, I gently shook his arm. The rhythmic sound of the feeding pump humming along, I navigated the cords to help him sit-up. So close to the end of radiation therapy, but so far to go I could hear his quiet groan as he began to move. Clicking on the light on the bedside table giving his eyes time to adjust, I began the solemn task of wiping off the debris from the oozing sores covering the head and neck of our youngest son. Although he stands over six feet tall and a grown man by all accounts, I cannot help but see a little boy before me. His ears are barely connected to his head as the radiation designed to save his life burns within his body now makes its way to the surface. The suffering of Job comes to mind as I apply expensive cream that simply melts and slides right off his skin. Although he occasionally flinches, my son does not say a word. I can see the tears behind his eyes from the pain which he endures. First were the headaches and then came all the nausea with the usual side effects. Countless procedures followed by a devastating diagnosis have all brought us to this place. Over thirty radiation treatments that have caused his body to fester inside and out including a mouth, throat and esophagus filled with deteriorating flesh all to kill a tumor filled with cancer trying to steal his life away. Chemotherapy coursing through his veins causing fatigue and more side effects culminating in the man who sits before me silently as I continue this painful process without a word of objection or even one complaint. I whisper to him softly, “You know it is okay to complain! You can tell God that this stinks and I know He would understand!” My son took a deep breath and with wisdom few understand replied, “What good would it do?” Stunned into silence as revelation floods my soul firmly pressed into the recesses of my mind in the midst of watching the suffering of my child, his words strengthen me, instruct me and yes, even change me. It is time to stop complaining!

Exodus 16:7-8 (NLT)

In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaints, which are against him, not against us. What have we done that you should complain about us?” Then Moses added, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread to satisfy you in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. What have we done? Yes, your complaints are against the Lord, not against us.”

 

There are many days that I fall back into the negative habit of grumbling and complaining. Although I try to remember that there really is no point, there are times I still find myself nagging God about my present situation as if He was not cognizant of what was going on or what I needed that very moment. The Children of Israel were chronic complainers. Always griping about God, poor Moses no wonder he was always running to Mount Sinai. Thank God for Moses sticking it out so we can hear the Voice of God through his plight. The Israelites were complaining AGAIN. Moses declared the Promise of God for them. They continued to complain. Powerful revelation is hidden in his response to them. When we complain, it is not about others or the situations that we face but it is about God. We are complaining about His Provision for our life. Moses told the people, “Yes, your complaints are against the Lord not us.” Now there is two-fold instruction here. The first, of course, is in regards to our grumbling about others and our life. However, we should also note that there is no need to take to heart the invalid complaints of others about us that are untrue, because they really are about the Lord. If I consider all the many times I complain voluntarily and involuntarily without notice, sadly I must admit I am no better than the Children of God. Lamentations 3:37-39 inquires who is more powerful than God in our life. But “instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. (Lamentations 3:40)

 

Numbers 14:2-4 (NLT)

Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”

 

Complaining is a sign of rebellion. It signals a turning away from God is coming and return to our old life is imminent. The Spirit of God is on high alert but if we lack wisdom from knowledge and understanding found in His Word it gives our flesh an unfair advantage and control. Before you know it, you will be right back in your old life forsaking freedom found in Jesus Christ. God will let you go! God’s response to the threat of the Israelites to return to bondage was this: “How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against me. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. (Numbers 14:27-28) the Lord knew it was futile to attempt to change their mind and God cannot and will not change so He allows us to rebel and walk away. Look at Jonah! He was also a constant and chronic complainer who said it would be better to die every time God’s Plan contradicted his own. (Jonah 4:1-3) So the Lord allowed Jonah to be swallowed by a giant fish and experience near death to decide if he was truly serious of his intent to die. Jonah changed his mind in that moment and God will allow you to experience what your complaints have called forth to see His Love and Mercy for His People so you will return to your first love and nullify your complaint!

Job 10:1 (NLT) I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain.

 

There are few who know the story of Job that would argue that he did not have a right to be disgusted and bitter. They would give him credence to complain. This is a huge mistake. There is in excuse for complaining for those who live by faith even Job! Complaining is a symptom of bitterness and doubt rising up in one’s heart and soul. If not immediately dealt with swiftly, it can cause great harm in the life of a believer. Bitterness is a louder witness than the gospel when God’s People profess faith and continue to complain. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:15)  There is no excuse for complaining ever and in fact, it plants seeds that can overwhelm faith with doubt. James asks the question, “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? (James 3:10-11) We must ask ourselves the same question examining the contents of our speech for faithfulness or grumbling!

Isaiah 29:23-24 (NLT)

For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Israel. They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob. Then the wayward will gain understanding and complainers will accept instruction.

 

God wants to bless you! He desires to fill your life with His Goodness and Grace. Complaining reflects a lifestyle of contradiction. It symbolizes separation from God. This can only be resolved with wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowledge that is derived from instruction. God’s Word feeds God’s Spirit which purifies the contents of the heart and cleansing the flow of our mouth. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks so faith is revealed by our speech and communication. (Luke 6:45) Griping and complaining reveal a doubt-filled and faithless heart that does not believe in the Power, Strength and Dominion over your life. It tells of a Child who doubts His Father’s Love and Willingness to care for, protect and provide for His Own. The heart tells our true intentions toward God as we reveal our expectation of Him. God answers our complaints with His Mercy!

John 6:60-66 (NLT)

Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”  At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.

 

It is hard to imagine men who witnessed the miracles of Jesus Christ, heard His Word firsthand and lived in close proximity to our Savior could just walk away from Him and not believe. The only way the Lord could get any closer was to live inside of His People. As He taught these religious men about such a concept, they could not understand and in their ignorance began to complain causing faith suicide as they walked away from Jesus Christ and deserted Him. Earlier in this same chapter Jesus gave them a firm command to, “Stop complaining!” (John 6:43-45) I believe Jesus is relaying this message to His Bride today! (Proverbs 21:19) It is time to stop arguing, complaining, griping, whining and grumbling to God and wait for His Answer! He will speak if you will stop talking. He will answer if you decide you want to know Him. The Lord will pour His Mercy over your life. Turn your heart back toward Him. Answer every question. Grow your faith from a mustard seed into a flourishing tree by the washing of His Word and Power of His Spirit but you must relent in your discourse and quit arguing your position. Grab hold of your tongue and look to the Lord for His Response.

Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how hewill answer my complaint.

 

It is with complete transparency today that I admit I do not know why our son has cancer once again, but I do know that God is working every single detail of his life for good! (Romans 8:28) I do not understand why he must suffer but I know Jesus Christ bore the brunt of his pain so healing is on the way. (Isaiah 53:4-6) I do not understand why there have been so many small and insignificant trials and troubles over the last few weeks but I do know that Jesus has overcome them all. (John 16:33) I will stop complaining about EVERYTHING because your Word instructs me to live this way! And I am honest enough to admit that I am still working out my salvation on a daily basis and running the race of faith so I will climb up on this tower and stand guard over my heart as I wait to see what the Lord says about the details of my life and choose to take my objection right to His Throne for an immediate response. And when His Answer requires a process I will wait and watch QUIETLY for My Redeemer to come!

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT)

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Do everything without complaining and arguing,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. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.