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MURMER NO MORE By Jacquelin Stoner

Read: Philippians 2:12-18

Reflect: I think the writer of Numbers was describing me when he wrote about the Israelites in Numbers 14:1 “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled….” Whenever I have said the words “if only”, it refers to a driving desire for circumstances to be different. We hear this loud and clear from the Israelites in Numbers 14:2 “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to die by the sword….Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”   Compare this to Numbers 11:1 “All the people complained….”  In Numbers 11:10 “Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to his tent.” Can you imagine Moses, hour after hour having to listen to his people sobbing and moaning in front of their tents? Can you imagine what God has had to listen for countless hours during these months as we who call ourselves believers have been complaining and murmuring about everything we have been going through.  To put it in Old Testament terminology, I personally have been doing a lot of “wailing at the entrance”, at my door.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is addressing when he says in Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”, in other words: No wailing, no murmuring at the door!!!. And why exactly is he writing this from a jail cell, deep in the darkness of the Roman prison? Why does Paul choose this attitude? He advises his readers: “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. For Paul, to have a thankful and gracious heart under such circumstances when he wrote Philippians was an act of the Holy Spirit. Paul allowed God to alter his heart. On my own strength, there are many days I can’t gear up the resolve to do “everything without grumbling or arguing”. But bottom line is, do I want to “shine like a star in a warped and crooked generation”? See, whenever I grumble and argue, what I’m actually expressing is my mistrust in God’s goodness, His sovereignty, and His omnipotence. I’m saying that God is powerless to change me, to change my perceptions of my circumstances, and powerless to change my world. When I have such a attitude, what a tiny little god I make God the Creator of the Universe to be! 

Apply: Are you going choose to spend the remainder of 2021 grumbling and arguing? Are you going stay angry at God because He is often not a “beautiful sunset and butterflies small, convenient god”, or are you going to let Him enter your world and use you in ways you never could have envisioned because your attitude is counter-cultural. Are you thankful?   If you choose to let God change your attitude, “then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life”. Please don’t choose to remain wailing at the entrance, but step forward and say, “Lord, I don’t know what the rest of 2021 will look like and I sure don’t know what 2022 will look like, but God, I know Your character and that You are trustworthy!".  I choose to rejoice at the door!! Amen and amen!