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349 – Grumbling or Grateful?

Comments Off on 349 – Grumbling or Grateful? 08 May 2014

When things don’t turn out just as you wanted, do you grumble or are you grateful to God for His blessings in your life? We spend too much of our time fretting that things are not going the way we wanted. Sometimes we miss opportunities to accomplish significant things because of our ingratitude and grumbling spirit. We will look at a story in the Old Testament of two tribes among God’s people, Joseph’s tribes: Ephraim, and Manasseh. They were grumbling about the possession of land and wanted more prestige. They had a misunderstanding about what greatness was. We will learn from them.

If we want to be more successful we must:

1. use our energy to win victories rather than grumbling – The two tribes of God’s people asked why they had been given only one portion of land. “The people of Joseph said to Joshua, ‘Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and the Lord has blessed us abundantly'” (Josh. 17:14 NIV). Joshua’s reply was, “’If you are so numerous,’ Joshua answered, ‘and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites’” (Josh. 17:15 NIV). The intent was clear. They were to use their energies to clear the land that was available instead of grumbling. How many times we hang around grumbling about the things we do not like rather than doing what we can do and have been instructed of God to do. Think of the mental, emotional and physical energy we waste complaining about the way things in our lives are. The issue is not adjustability. God will adjust whatever He must to accomplish His will for us. The issue is availability. If we are available, prepared, and willing, God will use us. The New Testament principle of using or losing is evident here. We miss opportunities when we are not ready or because we are grumbling rather than greeting them.

2. uncover our present abilities and use them for our benefit – “’If you are so numerous,’ Joshua answered, ‘and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaite.’ The people of Joseph replied, ‘The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.’ But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—’You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out'” (Joshua 17:15–18 NIV). God was reminding the people of their present abilities. God had blessed them with numbers, notable land, and numbing capabilities to frighten their enemies. Joshua reminded them of their present abilities. He told them to go and use them for their benefit. Uncovering their present abilities and using them would double their possession. The same is true for us today!

3. unleash the ability God has given us for our good – “‘If you are so numerous,’ Joshua answered, ‘and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.’ The people of Joseph replied, ‘The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.’ But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—’You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out’” (Josh. 17:15–18 NIV). Joshua was serious about teaching the people some lessons from their experience. He told them to do what they could first. He told them to use this as a learning experience. Doing is sometimes the path to great instruction. It is in doing that we learn what will and won’t work. It is necessary to plan and to proceed intelligently. It is also necessary to learn from our trials so we can continue on our way to success. The key is unleashing our already present abilities.

4. utilize the blessings we presently possess – “‘If you are so numerous,’ Joshua answered, ‘and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.’ The people of Joseph replied, ‘The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.’ But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—’You are numerous and very powerful'”(Josh. 17:15–17 NIV). Experience is the best teacher. It is true in parenting, for example. The more we do for our small children, the more they will expect and demand of us. Joshua didn’t get drawn into that trap. He told the people to utilize their already present blessings. Why should God give us more until we have made the best stewardship of the things we already have. It isn’t that God needs to see how much we already have. He knows. It is that we need to see it to possess it. We need to stop grumbling and get going to possess all that God has in store for us. If we save the complaining until we have utilized every blessing in our possession, we will never start complaining!

5. unearth the hidden benefits of our present blessings – “The people of Joseph replied, ‘The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel’ But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out'”(Josh. 17:16–18 NIV). God wants to better our living arrangements, and He will if we are willing to claim the benefits that are already ours in Him. This reminds me of the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matt. 25. God expects us to use what He has placed in our treasure chest. It is a matter of doing what we can, while we can, with all of the power of God we have. He wants us to learn to take the risk necessary to get out there beyond our finite reasoning and on to His bigger than life vision for us. We ought to get out beyond the predictable and allow God to bless us through His riches in glory by Christ Jesus and according to His provisional mercies in Christ Jesus for us. Joshua told the people of his day to “Stop grumbling and go for it!” God tells us the same today!

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“Redeemed”

The painting in my logo is by an artist named Kelly O'Neill.



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