“Can you believe … She is just so … I can hardly stand it … I am ready to kill somebody … “ and so the conversation went, from negative to complaint, gripe to accusation. I do not know if the things being said were true or not, but they were sure a sad commentary on the state of the heart of the two Christians deep into their gripe session. Have I complained? Yes, I have. Have I griped when it was too hot, too cold, too loud, too soft, too early, too late … ? Yes, God forgive me! Constant complaining reveals a person consumed with Self who is unwilling to flex and adjust, to honor the Lord with the choice for JOY.
I had to deal with the irresponsible behavior of another and there was not a thing I could do about it. I felt the irritation grow and I growled in anger, “Why me, Lord? Why do You allow me to live with this all the time?” The Spirit’s response in my soul was a question – “Will you honor Me or yourself today? It’s not about you, you know.” I wryly smiled at His patience with me, and with a sigh, asked “How many times Lord have you had to love me through seasons when I was not the person you desire me to be?” I settled into the circumstances and trusted Him, again! I found joy when I ‘let it go.’
Paul says this, and it is a command, not a suggestion – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9, NIV)
On this Monday morning, God offers a better way than griping our way through the day! Let’s take apart His word to us.
First up, determine where you will go to find joy. Will you look for it in success, in a meal of fine food, or through escape? The Word tells us to celebrate our relationship with the Lord! Remind yourself, “I am God’s kid! He’s a good God.” Look up, past the problems, beyond the disappointment, higher – and sing a song that extols the wonder of our God.
Second, tame that urge to take control. “Be gentle,” the Bible says. Another version tells us to be “moderate.” Conventional wisdom is that we need to ‘kick butts, power up, and make things happen’ when faced with challenges. I travel that road too often, trying to force solutions, get action, find compliance. But, when that is my choice, Jesus is dishonored. Sure, I can get things, but at what cost to others and to His kingdom?
Third, let prayer take over for worry. The concerns that can cause me tension are real; change in the organization I lead, a teenager in my house that challenges me at every turn, financial needs of the church, etc. God knows all of that and still does not give you or me permission to gripe, complain, or settle into anger. Instead, He invites ‘present your requests.’ He promises that if we will pray He will steady our minds and hearts with a gift of peace that guards us from the fear that will rob us of rest.
Fourth, be positive. Yes, the Holy Spirit tells us to choose to expect better things, to look for the best, and to seek out the excellent. Does this mean we cannot be honest in our evaluations? Not at all. Are we forbidden from speaking truthfully about gaps and flaws? No. Even then, we can destroy or build. We can help or hinder. We can encourage shared success.
Admit it. Life has troubles! If you believe that the only way to know joy is to find perfection, you are destined for frustration. We live in a world where sin and evil oppose the good of God, all the time. Sickness, heartbreak, disappointment comes. Temptation will roar from the shadows of your mind. Satan will prowl on the perimeter, looking for an opening to attack. But, in Him we are ‘more than conquerors.’ There is joy to be found, but not in a gripe session where we rehearse all our troubles. Joy is found in radical faith, in trust that helps us to ‘let it go.’
Before you head off today, re-read Paul’s letter, this time in modern language. Then, humbly, prayerfully, ask the Lord for power to live it, so that your thoughts, words, and actions will HONOR HIM with joy.
“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:4-9, The Message)
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before\
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman
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