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You are here: Home  > Faith Alive! | October 2008

Faith Alive! | October 2008

In Faith Alive! this issue:

  • Change is on the horizon
  • Faith Alive! is changing …
  • The commandments of Christ
  • The Messiah in Genesis
  • What’s on the web: Bible quizzes
  • Homosexual tendencies
  • Can a “same sex relationship” please God?
  • Marriage – a pattern
  • Crossword

A sample article from this edition:

The Commandments of Christ

(12) “Do all things without murmurings …” (Philippians 2:14)

Guilty? I certainly am! When I take time to sit and count the multitudinous blessings that God has given me, I can’t really believe that I so easily fall back into murmuring and grumbling to others about my lot in life. Why do we find it so hard to rise above this behaviour? And does it really matter when everyone else is like it too? It surely can’t be a sin that could seriously jeopardise our salvation?

The children of Israel in the wilderness spring to mind. Faced with the daily presence of Almighty God who provided food, water, clothes that never wore out, protection, guidance, life – they still grumbled. When the twelve spies returned from seeing the promised land, they all agreed it was wonderful, flowing with milk and honey – but ten of them could only see the giants, the problems – they couldn’t see the power that they had with being on God’s side. The evil report they gave “made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it …” (Numbers 14:36,37).* Deuteronomy 9:7 says that they provoked the Lord God to wrath in the wilderness – a strong emotion! Take a look at 1 Corinthians 10 which sums up the wilderness journey and we have our answer as to whether murmuring is bad or not: “Do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us … so if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (verses 10-12).

Why is murmuring so bad?

Murmuring is the opposite of faith. The Israelites were called “children in whom is no faith” (Deuteronomy 32:20). Their punishment was not entering the Promised Land: “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

It’s not hard to find the lesson for ourselves. Constant murmuring distorts our vision and hope, dilutes our enthusiasm and eats away at our faith. It is failing to see that God is working in our lives for good. It is not having faith that God, in His wisdom, brings discipline into our lives to help us grow and mature. There are enough proverbs and, of course, those graphic words of James (chapter 3) to warn us of the dangers of the tongue, the destruction that our words can inflict on others.

There seem to be two types of people: those who believe life is a gift and a privilege, who are enthusiastic, full of energy and full of their love for God; and those who see life as a string of problems, who are suspicious, self-centred and grumbling. I suppose we all come somewhere in the middle of those two extremes – but we should definitely be striving towards the first one! In every conversation we can either build up or knock down, encourage or dishearten. Our faith and hope should make us look at life, and people in our lives, differently. That’s not to go around saying that everything is wonderful when we are obviously struggling – but accepting God’s hand in our lives and showing faith by the way we talk about these things.

The antidote to murmuring?

I could write another five hundred words on antidotes – just looking at the context of the verse that we started with, but there’s not time. Philippians 4:6 speaks of thanksgiving in everything:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Switch your mindset to that of thankfulness and contentment – see God’s hand in your life and thank Him for it! We can all think of things we don’t have that we’d like, and things that we do have. Which do you choose to focus on? Look for the good in your life and share it with others. It’s contagious!

*Quotations from the NIV

Sally Palmer

 

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