Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wisdom and Getting Along with People


James 3:17-18 Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. (18) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.


Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be wise but who acted foolishly? True wisdom can be measured by a person's character. Just as you can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, you can evaluate your wisdom by the way you act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. Are you tempted to escalate the conflict, pass on the gossip, or fan the fire of discord? Careful, winsome speech and wise, loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

James compares the damage the tongue can do to a raging fire-the tongue's wickedness has its source in hell itself. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Idle and hateful words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken. We dare not be careless with what we say, thinking we can apologize later, because even if we do, the scars remain. A few words spoken in anger can destroy a relationship that took years to build. Before you speak, remember that words are like fire-you can neither control nor reverse the damage they can do.


God's wisdom begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It amazes me how often holiness and getting along with people are connected in the Word of God. It really does matter to God the effort I put into my relationships. I cannot be an effective witness for Christ if I am brash, rude, and overly opinionated about every topic under the sun. I have known people that live to start an argument. They feel like they are the "authority" on every subject, and they want you to know it. Those are the type folk I find myself avoiding. But if I always avoid them, then how will allow the love, light, and life of Christ to shine through me. Sometimes the Lord is teaching me lessons through these difficult people. I am striving TODAY to be gentle, reasonable, and overflowing with mercy and blessings with everyone I come in contact with.

James closes out chapter 3 by saying that "You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."

There are times that it is indeed hard work to get along with each other. It is hard work to treat everyone with dignity and honor. However, we will never be the community of influence and faith until we desire to get along with each other more than we desire to dislike someone and to hold a grudge against them. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we must go back to loving each other in word and deed. Eternity is counting on it!

There are many who are missing out on the grace of God because too often God's children would rather fight, pout, gossip, than to get on our faces and cry out to God to change "me!" Not my neighbor, or my spouse, or my co-worker...but me. I desperately want to be more like Christ today than I was yesterday. How about you? It really does begin with how I treat the cashier at Wal-Mart, the waitress at Applebees, the clerk at Barnes and Noble. For you see, they aren't interested in my knowledge. They aren't impressed with how much I know about the "Early Church" they are wanting to see and hear whether I truly and genuinely have been changed by Christ. They have seen too many frauds, and are desperate for someone REAL.

John 13:35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other."


"Lord, too often I fail to see people the way you see them. I want to see, react to, and treat people the way you do. Forgive me for the times I have been less than loving to those you have brought into my path. I want to live by James 3:17-18. I choose to be reasonable, gentle and overflowing with mercy today. I truly want people to see Jesus in me by seeing Your love through me. With Your help, I will do better in my decisions, emotions, and choices today. I love you Lord, and thank you for Your faithfulness in forgiving me. In Jesus name! Amen."


Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don’t give Place to the devil!

God has been dealing with me about something from Proverbs 6:16-19. It says, "There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: (17) haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, (19) a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." This shows that God sees one who "sows discord among brothers" as an abomination, or detestable.

Everytime I read that, I ask the Holy Spirit to constantly nudge my heart to remind me to run as far away from seeds of discord as I can. When I listen to someone who is sowing discord, I am watering that seed, thus becoming a part of the problem. God give us men and women of God who will have the guts to make a stand for God's Word!

Along those lines, I would like to share something with you that I read this morning from Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." I hope it will minister to you as much as it did to me:

You and I never have to fall prey to the devil! If we can shut every door, close every window, and seal every place in our lives through which the enemy would try to access us, we can prevent him from getting into the middle of our affairs.

One of the "entry points" the devil tries to use to enter our lives is relationships. If there is an unresolved issue or an ugly conflict with a loved one or friend, these conflict points often become entry points through which the devil tries to get a foothold in our relationships with those we love. Once the enemy is able to slip in through one of these "cracks" and build an offended place in our minds, then a wall has already begun to be constructed that will eventually separate us from the people we need and love the most.

In Ephesians 4:27, the apostle Paul writes, "Neither give place to the devil." The word "place" is the Greek word topos. It refers to a specific, marked-off, geographical location. It carries the idea of a territory, province, region, zone, or geographical position. It is from this word that we get the word for a topographical map. Because the word topos depicts a geographical location, this lets us know that the devil is after every region and zone of our lives — money, health, marriage, relationships, employment, business, and ministry. He is so territorial that he wants it all. But to start his campaign to conquer allthose areas of our lives, he must first find an entry point from which he can begin his campaign of unleashing his devilish destruction in our lives.

We often throw open the door to the devil when we:

  • Refuse to let go of old hurts and wounds.
  • Refuse to acknowledge what we did wrong.
  • Refuse to forgive others for what they did.
  • Refuse to stop judging others for their grievances.
  • Refuse to admit we were wrong too.
  • Refuse to say, "I'm sorry" when we're wrong.
  • Refuse to lay down our "rights" for others.

If you and I do any of these things, we leave a "marked-off place" through which the devil can enter to accuse others in our minds. But we don't have to fall victim to the enemy's tactics.

We can say, "No, you're not going to do this!" We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, so we don't have to let the devil run all over us. The Bible boldly declares, "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

The apostle Paul told us, "Neither give place to the devil." The Greek makes it clear that we must choose to give the devil no territory. You see, we have a choice: We can choose to "give the enemy place" in our minds and emotions, or we can choose to walk in the Spirit. If we choose the lower road, we will end up doing and saying things we later regret. Those regretful things are usually what opens the door for the devil to wreak havoc in our relationships.

I'm thinking specifically of a day I got very upset with one of our employees. I received information about one department of our ministry that really upset me. What upset me even more was that I believed one of our employees had known about this problem but hadn't conveyed the full truth to me about it. I scheduled a meeting to talk to that person the next morning to discuss this situation. That night as I lay in bed, I began to think about the problem we were facing. The longer I thought about it, the more angry I became that I hadn't been fully informed about the details as I should have been. I could feel a flash of heat pass through me as I kept pondering what to do next.

As I lay there in that bed, I began to take up an offense with this leader in our ministry. Once the devil got that foothold in my mind and emotions, it was as if a door had suddenly swung wide open for the devil to come in and begin accusing and slandering that precious employee to me. I tossed and turned all night long. I knew I could lay this issue down and walk in peace, or I could let it build in my mind until I became a walking time bomb. I chose to hold on to it and let it fester throughout the night.

The next morning when our meeting began, I exploded ! My thinking was so distorted by the devil's ravings in my mind all night that I couldn't hear anything being said. I was livid with this employee. This employee couldn't even say anything, as I never even gave her ten seconds to respond to my accusations.

Later when the whole ordeal was over, I discovered that every detail of the problem had already been fully communicated to me. But I had been so busy at the time that I didn't even remember the conversation. Others on the staff remembered it very well. It was my fault that I didn't know and not hers.

I was so embarrassed that I had lost my temper. I asked my staff members for forgiveness, and they were spiritual enough to forgive me and allow me to be a man with real human frailties. Thank God, our long-term relationship and commitment to work as a team overrides moments of human weakness that all of us display at one time or another.

But there are many people who don't know how to recover from conflicts such as this one. Rather than face the situation head-on and either apologize or openly forgive, they hold their failure or their offense in their hearts, never forgetting it and never getting beyond it.

On the particular day that I exploded in anger, it was I who "gave place to the devil." As I tossed and turned in that bed the night before, I knew I was making a choice. I pondered the problem so long that I let anger well up inside of me and make my decision for me.

What about you? Have you ever given place to the devil by allowing anger, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness to have a "place" in you?

But let's look at the word "devil" for a moment. The word "devil" comes from the Greek word diabolos, an old compound word that is made from the words dia and ballo. This name is used sixtyone times in the New Testament. The first part of the word is the prefix dia, which means through and often carries the idea of penetration. Because dia is used at the first of this word, it tells us that the devil wants to make some kind of penetration.

We've already seen that the devil is looking for an entry point. Once a point has been located through which he can secretly slip into people's lives, he begins penetrating the mind and emotions to drive a wedge between those individuals and the other people in their lives. The enemy's objective is to separate them from each other with his railing, accusing, slanderous accusations.

You'll know when the accuser has gone to work in your mind because your whole perspective about the person you are upset with suddenly changes. You become nit-picky, negative, and fault-finding. You used to have high regard for that person, but now you can't see anything good about him at all. It's as if you've put on a special set of eyeglasses that are specially designed to reveal all his wicked, ugly, horrid details. Even if you do see something good in him, all the bad you see outweighs the good.

This is clear evidence that the work of the "accuser" has found an entry point to penetrate your relationship with that other person. He is trying to disrupt what has been a pleasant and gratifying relationship in your life. Don't allow that conflict, disagreement, or disappointment to cause you to pick up a wrong attitude that will ruin your relationship. That's exactly what the devil wants you to do!

Rather than allow this to happen, stop and tell yourself, Okay, this isn't as big of a deal as I'm making it out to be. The devil is trying to find a place in my mind to get me to start mentally accusing that person, and I'm not going to let him do it.

Instead of meditating on all the bad points of that person, look in the mirror yourself ! Consider how many times you've let down other people; how many mistakes you've made in your relationships; the times you should have been held accountable but instead were shown unbelievable mercy. Remembering these things has a way of making you look at an offensive situation a little more mercifully.

Ask the Holy Spirit to take the criticism out of your heart and to cause the love of God in you to flow toward that other person or group of people. Pray for an opportunity to strengthen that relationship so all the entry places to your life and to that relationship remain sealed. Stop the devil from worming his way into the middle of your relationships with people you need and love!


Pastor Rusty

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Roaming Lion who loves to Divide and Conquer

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well. Over the past few days, I have felt the Lord speaking to my spirit about sins of the tongue and the effort the enemy puts into attacking the people of God.

I want to share something else with you, along those lines, that God has been speaking into my heart.

I was watching the Discovery Channel with my family a while back. I LOVE the Discovery channel, and especially like to watch when they are showing lions chasing a wildebeest. Well, we were watching this take place on our television, and I was cheering for the lions to catch the Wildebeest, while Taylor, my daughter who was eight years old at the time, started yelling, "run deer, run."

She was so upset about the lions trying to kill the "deer" that she was about to cry. She started saying, "turn it daddy, turn it, I don't want to watch the lions kill that 'deer'" I eventually turned the channel , but continued to think about what we had just seen on TV.

For you see, a lion will not go into a herd of wildebeest to attack. The herd could trample the lion. What he does, is wait until one of the wildebeest separates himself from the pack.
When this happens, the lion(s) begin to crouch and prowl toward the "very much alone" wildebeest. The lions are hoping to "DIVIDE AND CONQUER." You then watch the Wildebeest trying his best to get away from the lion, and in many cases, attempting to get back to the pack of his friends.

My friend, that is exactly what the Bible says about the devil. It is said about satan, that he comes "as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." What is his strategy? DIVIDE AND CONQUER!
The Bible says in Romans 4 that when Abraham didn't receive the promise of God for some 25 years, that he "didn't stagger at the promise of God." The word stagger in the Greek means, "to not separate oneself in a hostile spirit." Abraham refused to become offended and allow the devil (lion) to DIVIDE AND CONQUER.
However, many people do fall for this trick of our enemy. They become upset, hurt or offended, and the first thought that comes into their mind is to "separate themselves from other people." They are deceived into believing that the best thing for them to do is to leave the fellowship of God's people. They decide that they can serve God at home better than being around people at church. It is a lie and a trick of the devil. God's Word plainly says in Hebrews 10:25:
Hebrews 10:25 (AMP) Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.
(CEV) Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.
(KJVR) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
(MSG) not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
The closer we get to the Lord's return, the greater the deception is going to be by the enemy to try to get us to "separate ourselves" from our friends, church, and even family members. It is an attack of the devil that will only increase.
The Word of God says that in the last days, that the "very elect" of God's people are going to be tempted to be deceived. Also, that the "love of many" will grow cold.
Please hear my heart today. We NEED each other. Don't be like the wildebeest and separate yourself from the HERD of God's people. The desire to do so is NOT coming from the Spirit of God, but from the god of this world, satan himself, the "roaming lion" who is seeking to devour you and your family.
If you have already separated yourself from others for whatever reason, why don't you ask God to help you get past your offense, and grow in the Lord. Some good folks, never mature in the Lord because they are always running from their problems. Oh, they may sound spiritual, but my friends, if they are separating themselves from God's people in offense, they are falling for the oldest trick of the enemy.
Please know that you are WELCOME to come back to God's Herd. He is calling, beckoning you through this blog to, COME BACK HOME! God's Word tells you that "greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world."

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sheep injuring Sheep

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

My heart has been so burdened by the problems that many churches are experiencing because of the tongue of some church members. There are to many of God's sheep injuring other sheep! The Bible says that we will be held accountable for every word that we speak. We will be held accountable to the damage that we cause the Body of Christ. The Word of God challenges us to live BLAMELESS lives, but too often we live CARELESS. We need to allow the love of God to guide our life and our words! Listen to what God's Word says about this…

Let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)

Gossiping usually means passing on information when you're neither part of the problem or the solution. It's like accepting stolen property - it makes you just as guilty of the crime. The moment somebody begins to gossip you should say, "Stop, why do I need to know this? Have you talked directly to that person?" Wise up. People who gossip to you will gossip about you. They can't be trusted! Furthermore, when you entertain gossip God says you're a troublemaker. Listen: "Troublemakers listen to troublemakers" (Proverbs 17:4 CEV). And Jude adds, "These are the people who divide you, people whose thoughts are only of this world" (Jude 1:19 NCV)

Isn't it sad that in God's flock the greatest wounds come from other sheep, not wolves!

Galatians 5:14-17 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. [Lev. 19:18.] (15) But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another. (16) But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). (17) For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

He says these troublemakers should be avoided and disciplined. Listen again: "A gossip reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a babbler" (Proverbs 20:10 NRSV) The fastest way to end conflict is to lovingly confront those who are gossiping and insist that they stop it. Solomon pointed out, "Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops" (Proverbs 26:20 TLB).

Start practicing Christ's method of conflict resolution!
(1) "Work it out between the two of you."
(2) "If he won't listen, take one or two others along."
(3) "If he still won't listen, tell the church [leadership]" (Matthew 18:15-17 TM). That's God's way. It must be ours too!


Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sowing and Reaping Seeds of Discord

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well. My heart has been so burdened by God’s children sowing seeds of discord and weakening the effect and influence of the Church. My friends, too many of us who claim the Name of Christ just simply do not control our tongue, and it is causing harm to the body of Christ. I have made this a matter of prayer in my life, and in the life of the Church. With this in mind, would like to share something with you that I read from Dr. Dale A. Robbins. Please allow God’s Word to speak to you today. I believe it will challenge you the way it did me.

Prov 6:16-19 These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, (18) a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, (19) a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.

In 1981, Roger Faulkner had been a member of a Church in a Chicago suburb for nearly two years. He had served as a Sunday School teacher for more than a year when the position of superintendent became available. Roger was excited about Sunday School and felt that he would be an ideal successor to the position. He went to the pastor and shared his vision and desire to serve, but to his disappointment the pastor and church board later chose someone else to serve in that post.

Roger was very offended that he wasn’t considered for the job, but didn’t say anything to the pastor about it. As the weeks wore on, Roger became increasingly negative and critical toward the church and the people. He began to find fault with the new superintendent and the Sunday School program. He began attending services less and less.

Jeff Billings, another Sunday School teacher, began to notice something wrong with Roger. After church one Sunday, Jeff invited Roger out to lunch.

“Is everything Ok?” Jeff asked. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been absent a lot lately and I get the feeling that something is wrong.”

“Yeah, you might say that,” Roger said sarcastically. “I’m fed up with that stupid church and its immature leadership! The Sunday School program stinks and the pastor couldn’t preach his way out of a paper bag! Most of the people here are unspiritual and unloving. I’m just not getting fed here anymore, and I’m thinking about leaving!”

Jeff was shocked. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing! Just a few weeks ago you were so excited about the church. You used to brag to everyone that this was the greatest church in town. Just two months ago you told me that this was the most loving congregation you’d ever seen. What’s happened to change you?”

“It’s not me. It’s the church that’s changed,” fumed Roger. “Besides the incompetence of the Sunday School program, let me tell you a few other things I’m upset about...”

For an hour, Jeff was amazed to hear Roger’s complaints. For many weeks afterward, he met with Roger several more times, hoping to encourage him, but to no avail. Instead, he began to empathize with Roger’s criticisms. It wasn’t long until Jeff too began developing negative attitudes and eventually even resigned from Sunday School.

Bill Stedlund, a friend of Jeff’s, took notice that both he and Roger were not as active in the church as they used to be. He observed that when they were in attendance, they usually sat together and would often whisper to each other during the services. He realized that something was wrong.

One evening, Bill saw the two at a local restaurant talking with others from the church. He decided to join them. “How’s it going, guys?” Bill said. “Wasn’t Sunday’s service great! Fifteen souls came to the Lord. And what a sermon! Praise the Lord!”

Everyone at the table just looked at each other. “Sorry, we didn’t notice,” said Jeff smugly. “I guess we were too preoccupied with the serious problems in the church.”

“Problems? What problems?” Bill chirped. “Are you guys goofy or what? The church is going terrific. Lives are being changed every Sunday, the church is growing, and the congregation is ecstatic. What’s your problem?”

“Apparently you’re blinded to the reality of what’s really going on,” said Roger. “The church is ruled by politics and unspiritual morons who don’t care whose feelings they hurt. Besides, the people of this church have more faults than an earthquake zone! And furthermore...”

Bill interrupted, “Whoa, wait just a second! I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with you guys, and now I guess I know. You are the ones who are blinded! You have developed a critical, fault-finding spirit and the Devil has blinded you from being able to see the beauty of what the Lord is doing.”

“Roger, I heard you got your feelings hurt when the pastor chose someone else over you for Sunday School Superintendent. But instead of talking with him about it and forgiving him, you developed a bitter, unforgiving spirit! Now the Devil has deceived you into looking for fault in everything. And to make matters worse, you’ve taken your discontent and spread it to other brethren. This is a serious violation of God’s Word. You ought to know that the Bible says God hates those who spread discord among the brethren. The word ‘hate’ is pretty harsh language coming from God, and the Bible warns of calamity that will come upon those who spread discord (Proverbs 6:14-15). This means you!”

“Spreading discontent is disobedience to God and will not help solve problems, Roger. Gossip and bad-mouthing only makes a situation worse. Just a few weeks ago, Jeff thought everything was going great until you ‘illuminated’ him. And How many others have you corrupted with your bad attitude?”

Bill continued, “How did Jesus teach that we should resolve our differences with our brethren? You are to go to the persons who have offended you and talk to them privately and resolve your dispute (Matthew 18:15). Did you keep the matter private and go to the pastor? Did you go to others who offended you? No, you didn’t. You selfishly chose to spread your complaints and opinions to others to gather their attention and sympathy to your own hurt feelings.”

“Roger and Jeff, where in the Bible does Jesus tell His followers to judge, criticize, or condemn our brethren? You can’t tell me, because it doesn’t say it! However, Jesus did tell you to love and forgive your brethren, to submit, to prefer, to encourage, to dwell together in love and peace, not to bad-mouth one another, and on and on! (John 13:34, Ephesians 4:29-32, 5:21, Romans 12:10, Hebrews 10:25, Ephesians 4:1-3, Titus 3:2).”

Roger and Jeff were offended by Bill’s lecture and thereafter avoided his fellowship. But months later Roger became convicted about his sinful attitude and realized that this was why the Lord had not been answering his prayers.”If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psa. 66:18). He repented of his sin and asked the Lord to forgive him. A few days later he went to the pastor and the other Christians that he had bad-mouthed, and asked forgiveness. Roger recovered from his troubles and continues to serve the Lord to this day.

Sadly, the person whom Roger had influenced most, Jeff, became more critical and bitter. The discord had taken root and had severely damaged Jeff’s faith. Unfortunately, discord is like a bad apple that will spoil the whole barrel — an infection that the Devil uses to spread his evil disease.

Jeff continued to spread the seeds of discord. Dozens left the church and the discontent spread, severely damaging the ministry. Souls ceased coming to the altars for salvation, and the loss of tithers caused the church to struggle for several years. Jeff also had many heartaches and no longer serves God.

Christians must never forget that their words can promote life or death, unity or division, love or hate. Although Roger was forgiven for his evil words sown, yet his mouth was an instrument of murder to his friend, Jeff, and others. Satan used his mouth to nearly destroy a whole church. How many souls have been murdered with the mouths of discontent believers? “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor...” (Prov. 11:9). The Bible clearly warns us to mark those who cause division and strife and to avoid them. They are used by the Devil to cause trouble to the church and to the work of the Gospel (Romans 16:17).

Are you a sower of discord? Are you being used by the Devil to cause division and strife in your church? If so, be warned of the severe consequences that you will face unless you repent of your sin and bring your mouth under control. God promises, the sower of discord will face calamity. “A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy” (Prov. 6:12-15).

If you can’t say good things about your church, then keep your mouth shut. If you don’t think the church or its leaders are doing what they should, go talk with them privately. Pray daily for God to help them. And if you still don’t think the church is doing you any good, then get down to the altar and pray until it does, or get out of there and find one that will!

Whatever you do, don’t become an adversary to the church, it’s leaders or people! Regardless of what you think about your church, it belongs to the Lord, and if it is in error He’s big enough to correct it without your complaints. If you become a trouble-maker to your church, you will make yourself an enemy to Jesus (Matthew 25:40), and He warned against becoming a stumbling-block to the faith of believers lest you face severe judgment. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lord help me to "Stop Complaining!"

It is so easy to complain, gripe and bellyache, and forget how blessed we really are.

Remember the ten lepers in the Bible (Luke 17:11-19)? All ten were healed, but only ONE returned to give glory to God after he had been healed. That is 10% of those who had been blessed beyond measure, slowed down enough to say "Thanks Lord!" What about you? What about me? Are we thankful? Or do we have a tendency to complain?

Philippians 2:14 says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing" A good question for us today is, "Am I filled with THANKSGIVING or COMPLAINING?"

David C. Egner writes: While I was teaching at a Christian college, a talented young man pushed his way into my life. He needed one more course to graduate, so he decided that I should give him an independent study in writing. He would be everlastingly grateful if I would just do this--even though it required extra work on my part. The college dean agreed to the idea because of the young man's abilities. What a headache! He skipped appointments, missed deadlines, and rejected my evaluations of his writing. He even turned in the last assignment just hours before graduation. After all that was done for him, you'd think he would have been grateful. But he didn't express one word of thanks on graduation day nor in all the years since.

I don't ever want to be that kind of person. I would rather be like David. When he was in deep trouble, he called out to the Lord for help (Ps. 28:1-2). Afterward, he remembered to give God thanks for delivering him (vv.6-7). In fact, David's heart of gratitude toward the Lord is evident throughout the book of Psalms.

"Dear Abby" is a popular syndicated newspaper column, Started in 1956 by Abigail Van Buren, the advice column is written today by her daughter Jeanne Phillips. In an edition a few years ago, she included this Thanksgiving Prayer written many years before by her mother:

O Heavenly Father: We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry. We thank Thee for health and remember the sick. We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless. We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved. May these remembrances stir us to service. That Thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen."

The words of this prayer echo the clear teaching of Scripture. Our thanksgiving to God should always be accompanied by thinking of those in need. "Therefore," said the writer to the Hebrews, "by [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).

But there is more to it than thankfulness. We are to put actions behind our gratitude. "Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (v.16).

Be thankful for God's many blessings, but be sure to remember those who have less. What about us? Do we have an ungrateful response to the Lord's graciousness? Or are we, like David, unceasingly expressing our thanks to God for His goodness? Is there someone whose kindness I've been taking for granted? How can I show that person gratitude today? In what ways can I show my gratitude to God? When you count your blessings, it adds up to thankfulness. At least it should. Amen?


Pastor Rusty