ARE YOU PRAISING OR COMPLAINING?

Recently a longtime friend, Brother in Christ, and previous missions partner Matt Loving[1] posted a passage of scripture that opened the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to lead me to some self-examination.  With so much chaos going on around us, our culture trying to take sin and make it acceptable and leadership that is doing everything but lead our nation has led to a lot of speculation and questioning about where God is and what He has in store.  To be perfectly honest, at times I spend more time complaining and looking at everything I believe is wrong with the world instead of spending time focused on God’s timing and His power and dominion over everything that happens around us.  Some of you that are still in your infancy of your spiritual growth may be asking “does that mean God is making these things happen?”  While I do not profess to be a prophet, scripture is very clear that God allows things to happen, even people’s bad decisions and choices, and He can still use them to serve his perfect will.

Isaiah gives us an incredible word picture when he writes “With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?  As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.  A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple.  Do you not know?   Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood since the earth was founded?  He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.  ‘To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob?  Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”[2]

“With whom, then, will you compare God?”  An interesting question for a culture that fails to recognize just how many “idols” we have.  People idolize cars, boats, trucks, motorcycles, sports, adultery, pornography, drugs, alcohol, houses, jobs, athletes, movie stars, politicians, pastors, religion, and the list goes on and on.  None of these things can compare to JEHOVAH and for that reason we have an incredible message to share with a lost and dying world.  As the worship song says “There is no one like JEHOVAH!”  Isaiah makes it very clear that God has been on His throne since before the earth was created. He stretched out the heavens and all that lies beneath them.  So how foolish of us to worship things that will rust, rot, wilt and eventually turn back to the earth from which it came while we have a God that sits on His throne watching over everything that He created.  There is nothing that He does not see; there is nothing He does not know; He knows the spoken and the unspoken; He cares for everything and everyone that is part of His creation; so the key question is what are you doing to draw people to God’s truth?  Are you spending more time complaining about the condition of the world or are you lifting praises to the creator of the universe?  Are you complaining about your personal situation or praising God for going through the situation with you?  Are you claiming victory in Jesus or living in despair and defeat because the enemy has led you to believe his lies and distractions?

“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.”  We serve a God that cannot grow tired or weary!  He is exponentially super powered and all things are subject to His control.  He can bring order from chaos; He can take evil men and bring them to ruin; He can take those who choose to call evil good and ignore Him as the one and only God and destroy them and those that follow them.  Our problem is we want it done in our timing and the way we want things to happen.  God doesn’t work on our timetable and He certainly isn’t always going to do it the way we think it should be done. We must praise Him for His never ending understanding!  He knows us better than anyone could ever know us; He knew us before the foundations of the world so who could know us better and yet He still provides understanding when we complain and we get impatient with life.  Simply put, we need to get with His program and praise Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do rather than complaining that God has left the building.  His timing is perfect, His ways are perfect and He is always on time whether we comprehend His timing or not.  STOP COMPLAINING AND START PRAISING!

While this is a powerful passage of scripture, my favorite words are at the end of this passage.  With all that is going on around Followers of Jesus Christ, the enemy can be very effective with distracting us away from our reliance on God’s promises and create opportunities for us to complain about anything and everything.  If we simply stay focused on Jesus and our Heavenly Father’s perfection/promises then we can praise Him in the worst or the best of times.  Complaining takes so much energy and can leave us vulnerable to other tactics Satan and his demons will use.  Isaiah tells us that God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  We watch young men stumble and fall prey to the ways of the world yet God’s desire is to give us hope and it is an eternal hope that will give us strength to endure!  We can praise Him for the hope that lies within us and He will give us strength to run the race of life without growing weary; we can walk the challenging paths of life and not grow faint.  So here is the question I asked myself after reading this passage in Isaiah – Am I praising or am I complaining?  As I took an honest look at myself, I discovered there have been times that I have allowed the circumstances around me to lead to complaining instead of praising.  I took my eyes off of the one and only thing that deserves constant praising and that is our precious savior Jesus Christ.  I hope you will allow the Holy Spirit to assist you with self-examination to get you refocused on God’s amazing grace and mercy.  If you will allow this to happen, then no matter what is going on around you, praising will constantly flow from you because you will be filled with the Living Water that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ.  No doubt, from a human perspective there is plenty to complain about yet from an eternal perspective there is nothing that God can’t take care of in His perfect timing.  So PRAISE HIM IN THE MORNING, PRAISE HIM IN THE NOON TIME, PRAISE HIM IN THE EVENING, PRAISE HIM ALL THE DAY LONG!


 

[1] Matt Loving serves as a Mentor to students in the Trek-X program which is an evangelism education program that teaches college age students evangelism for two years and then they serve as missionaries abroad for two years.

[2] Isiah 40: 16-31.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

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