“The Outlook Choice”
July 18, 2011
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“The Outlook Choice”
“And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). “Do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14). “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
The other day we stopped at a local supermarket. As we walked through the parking lot we had no trouble hearing two older women complaining about something. In fact every other word that spewed from their mouths were foul expletives! We couldn’t get away from the vile scene fast enough. But sadly such a scene is all too common and even created in Hollywood for viewing and listening on the big screen.
Let me ask you a candid question. Have you complained about anything thus far today? I’m not only speaking of verbal murmurings expressed to others, but inner complaining within your own heart. (Many of you are glad you really don’t have to answer that question, at least where others might see!) I realize life is jam packed with opportunities to complain if we so choose. I suspect this is true wherever we live; regardless of what situations we’re enduring or conditions we are living under. However each day, really each moment we have a major outlook choice; we can rejoice or complain.
Jim Gambini, a longtime friend of ours, made an interesting observation when he pointed out in a sermon, “Essentially, complaining is accusing God of not doing it right.” Think about Jim’s statement in light of God’s providential dealings in your life. Isn’t the traffic jam ultimately under God’s control? What about that annoying associate? If God is really in control (and I sure believe He is) complaining is essentially accusing God of not doing it right. It’s like telling God, “You got it wrong the first time. How about doing it this time the way I want it, so that You can get it right?” We wouldn’t dare say those words, but our attitude often conveys such a disrespectful discourse, when we find ourselves grumbling to God. It’s easy to criticize the Israelite’s frequent murmurings and thankless hearts as they journeyed to the Promised Land, but we do the same, far more often, as we are journey to our promised land.
I encourage you to read this Scripture carefully: “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:22-24).
Try to imagine, even empathize with Paul and Silas’ ordeal; physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Their exterior circumstances in this single experience is a more traumatic trial than I’ve known in 56 years of life. Look at the key words describing their situation: attacked, stripped, beaten, severely flogged, thrown in prison, guarded carefully, inner cell, feet fastened in stocks. This injustice took place in Philippi.
If anyone ever had uncomfortable and unwarranted conditions to complain about Paul and Silas sure did! Did they appeal to the human rights commission? Did they threaten a personal injury lawsuit if medical staff refused to doctor their potentially infectious wounds? Of course we know they didn’t and likely would not if these options had been available in their time period. In fact the very next verse tells us justs what they did. Since this is a familiar portion of Scripture you likely know the answer, but I’ll provide it below our message, just in case.
Paul later wrote a letter to the church in Philippi and gives two simple straightforward commands: “Do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14) and “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) He sure had the credibility to make these statements!
It’s very easy to make super-heroes out of these disciples of Christ, but they were human just like us. The Scriptures do not speak of their complaining or murmuring, but it’s possible that they did initially (we really don’t know). But we do know that any attitude they might have had led them to conclude that God is worthy of our praise no matter how miserable the circumstance!
Today we all have an outlook choice. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It’s a proclamation every single one of us can make this day and every day!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we’re told to do everything without complaining, so that we shine like stars in the universe. We know that people are drawn to light where brightness is present and warmth is extended. Help our conversation to be full of grace, tenderness, light, and truth so that we will positively affect those around us. May we be as a sweet aroma to You and those whom we meet on our life’s journey. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
* Here is the verse that immediately follows the daily Scripture portion referred to in today’s message: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
“The Joy Of The Lord” Video Twila Paris
“Rejoice In The Lord Alway” Video
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