Sun, Nov 09, 2008

DISCONTENT - UNHAPPY LIFE! NUMBERS 14:1-4

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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DISCONTENT – UNHAPPY LIFE!
NUMBERS 14:1-4

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Numbers chapter 14 as we look at the topic:DISCONTENT – UNHAPPY LIFE!  In other words, we are going to look at how we can allow situations we face to cause us to murmur and complain and that will only lead to an unhappy life. And, as we will see, there are good reasons why we should not murmur and complain.

            Let me share with you some background information regarding our study this morning. The children of Israel have been camped out at Mount Sinai for a little over a year. God has given to Moses and the children of Israel His commandments. He has given them the blueprints for the construction of the tabernacle. And now, that work has been completed, the Tabernacle has been erected. He has set apart the priesthood from the linage of Aaron of the tribe of Levi and He has set the Levites as His own, to care for the tabernacle. He has given to them the instructions regarding the various sacrifices that the priests were to carry out.  He has instructed them how to set up camp and how to break camp when it was time to move. God has this all in order as they broke camp; certain groups would lead the way and then the next group and-so-on.

            Now that all this has been completed, God wants them to move forward, to go into the Promise Land, the land of Canaan. Back in Exodus 6:2-8 we are told, And God spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.”’

            God’s promise to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and now to the children of Israel would be fulfilled; they would be delivered from their bondage in Egypt and enter into the land of Promise! And you may notice the seven I will” statements that the Lord made to Moses. Listen carefully to what God is promising to the children of Israel:

· I WILL BRING YOU OUT

            · I WILL RESCUE YOU FROM THEIR BONDAGE

            · I WILL REDEEM YOU

            · I WILL TAKE YOU AS MY PEOPLE

            · I WILL BE YOUR GOD

            · I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE LAND

            · I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU AS A HERITAGE

           And just in case they still doubt, He says, I am the LORD.” In fact, in these verses there are some 25 personal pronouns that show what God has done, is doing and will do for the children of Israel! He is not only the covenant maker but He is the covenant keeper!  Folks, may we not forget that!

            On this short journey, some three days, they now arrive at Kadesh Barnea on the boarder of the Promise Land. Yes, there must have been great excitement, anticipation as they can see the land God had promised them. But also, they had some fear, some doubt and thus, they want to send some spies into the land to check things out. You know, case the area, get a battle plan, check out the enemy, look for weak spots so when they go in they can be victorious! But the Lord did not want them to send spies into the land, He wanted them to just walk by faith and take the land that He has promised them as He was leading them!

            I do realize that in Numbers 13:1-2 we are told, And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.’  From these verses it would seem that the Lord sent in the spies but I do not believe that is the case for in Deuteronomy 1:20-24 we are told, And I said to you, ‘You have come to the mountains of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ And every one of you came near to me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.’ The plan pleased me well; so I took twelve of your men, one man from each tribe. And they departed and went up into the mountains, and came to the Valley of Eshcol, and spied it out.

            You see, the people wanted to send in the spies, Moses bought into this plan, and the Lord allowed it, but it was not His idea, it was not His plan!  He wanted them to go in and take the land. But, 12 spies were to go in and check things out, one man from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and after 40 days they returned to the base camp with a report of what they found.

            First of all 10 of the 12 spies reported that the land was great but there was a big problem. There were giants in the land. Their cities were fortified.  The land was filled with people. The sun was in their eyes or whatever. Thus, their conclusion was, “We’re dead meat! We can’t win! We are like grasshoppers to these giants!” Yes, some truth mixed with some exaggeration but the real issue here was their lack of faith and because of that they refused to walk into the land of Promise!

            The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb said, “The land is great, it is flowing with milk and honey just as the Lord said. If God is for us, who can be against us! Let’s go!”  How can these two groups of people looking at the same situation come up with two completely different conclusions? That is easy. One group looked at the situation through the eyes of man and unbelief resulted, and thus, it was a hopeless situation for them.  Joshua and Caleb looked at the situation through the eyes of faith and thought, “We can’t lose!”

There is a story of a shoe salesman who was sent to a remote part of the country. When he arrived, he was dismayed because everyone went around barefooted. So he wired the company, “No prospect for sales. People don’t wear shoes here.” Later another salesman went to the same territory. He too immediately sent word to the home office. But his telegram read, “Great potential! People don’t wear shoes here!”  You see, the same situation, it all depends on how you look at it!

            Thus, the children of Israel have heard both reports. Now, how were they going to respond to the news that these spies brought back to them? We will see in a minute, but first let me share this story with you. We are told that:

A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first 10 years his superior called him in and asked, "Do you have anything to say?" The monk replied, "Food bad." After another 10 years the monk again had opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, "Bed hard." Another 10 years went by and again he was called in before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he responded, "I quit." "It doesn't surprise me a bit. You've done nothing but complain ever since you got here."

- Source Unknown

            With that said, let’s begin reading in Numbers chapter 14, starting in verse 1 as we look at the response of the children of Israel regarding the two reports they have received from the 12 spies regarding the land of Canaan, the Promise Land!

NUMBERS 14:1-4

            Instead of trusting in the Lord, instead of believing in the promises that God had given to them, they listened to the voice of man and reasoned within themselves that they can’t win this battle. Thus, they weep, they mourn, they complain and they come to some very wrong conclusions.

            They would rather die in Egypt than walk in the Promise Land. They would rather die in the wilderness than take their chances in the land of Canaan.  They think that God has brought them to this place to wipe them out. Wouldn’t it be much easier for God to do that before they even left Egypt – toasted them down there if that was His plan? Of course it would have been, but that was not the plan of God for them. The plan of God for their lives was to bring them into the land of Canaan, the Promise Land, a walk of faith!

            Now, with their backs up against the wall, they resort to their plan. They are going to return to Egypt and remove Moses and Aaron from their leadership position and place someone in that feels like they feel, who will do what they want them to do!

            Folks, there will always be people, teachers who will tell you what you want to hear but that does not make it right. You see, if it goes against God’s Word, then their counsel is wrong; their advice is not of God. I have seen this with Christians over the past 20 years or so as I have counseled them. They complain about their marriage and they tell me, “God does not want me to be unhappy in my marriage. Thus, it is okay for me to get a divorce, right?” And I tell them, “No, it is not okay!” and they don’t like what I have to say and they look for people who will side with them. I had one woman who was trying to convince me that her Christian friends at work told her it was okay and again, they are wrong because their counsel goes against God’s Word and she did not like what I had to say!  That is what is going on here with the children of Israel, they did not like what Moses was saying, even though he was speaking for God, and they wanted him out and to be replaced with someone who agrees with them!

            Paul picks up on this point as he writes to Timothy, a young pastor and he tells him, he warns him to, Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  II Timothy 4:2-5.

            You see, instead of listening to the voice of God, instead of allowing the conviction of God to change their ways, to let God’s Word speak to them, they seek after teachers who will tell them what they want to hear but they are fables, they are fairy tales, it is not real, it is not the truth, it is not of God and there are consequences if you go down that path and they are not good!

            Now, with the remainder of our time this morning I want to focus on three areas that relate to why we should not murmur and complain but learn to be content in what God has for our lives. You see, when the children of Israel were murmuring and complaining against Moses and Aaron, it was really against the Lord for He brought them to this point, He placed them in this position and now He wants them to walk by faith and trust in Him. But instead of doing that and resting in the Lord, having that abundant life in the Lord, they are murmuring and complaining.

            These are the three areas we will be looking at this morning. We should not complain:

1. FOR OUR OWN COMFORT

2. FOR THE COMFORT OF OTHERS

3. TO PLEASE GOD

Now, before we look at these three points, let me share with you this true story to

help put things in perspective for us. We are told:

            When the novelist, Dr. A. J. Cronin, was a practicing physician in a small Welsh mining community, he worked with a remarkable nurse. For more than twenty years Oliven Davies had served the people with competence, patience, and cheerfulness. Her friend, the doctor, resented the inadequate salary with which her selfless work was rewarded.

            “Late one night after a particularly strenuous case, I ventured to protest to her as we drank a cup of tea together. ‘Nurse,’ I said, ‘why don’t you make them pay you more? It is ridiculous that you should work for so little.’ She raised her eyebrows slightly. But she smiled, ‘I have enough to get along.’ ‘No really,’ I protested and persisted, ‘you ought to have an extra pound a week at least. God knows you’re worth it.

            There was a pause.  Her smile remained but her gaze held a gravity, an intensity, that startled me. ‘Doctor!’ she said, ‘if God knows I’m worth it, that’s all that matters!’”

- Christian Victory

            You see, that is the correct perspective in any situation, that God is aware and if we are following Him, that means He has brought us to this place. Thus, instead of complaining we should be growing.  Think about it, over one million people of the children of Israel died in just under 40 years because of their murmuring and complaining. God wanted them to grow in the faith but their complaining brought His judgment upon them!

            Now, let’s look at those three points in regards to why we should not complain.

1.  WE SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN FOR OUR OWN COMFORT

            This does seem obvious and yet, many times we don’t get it. We should not complain for our own comfort! Complaining about this and complaining about that shows you are not content where you are at, but why?

            Let me illustrate this condition of complaining, of discontent, like this. Imagine you have a very long walk to take every day. The problem is you have a stone in your shoe or a thorn in your foot.  Thus, in those long walks you take every day, would you be comfortable? Absolutely not, you would be miserable! The only way you will be able to alleviate that discomfort is by removing the stone in your shoe or the thorn in your foot. Unless you deal with it you would never have a comfortable walk and you probably would stop walking!

            Here’s the point. If you are murmuring about this or about that, complaining about this situation or that one, if you are discontent with life, it is like our minds have a stone or thorn in it. Thus, as you go out to do your daily activities, as you walk through life, you will not have comfort until you remove that from your mind!

            Paul, in Philippians 2:14-16 tells us, Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

            Paul is very clear on this and yet, for most of us it is easier to complain and murmur and be discontent than to be thankful for all the Lord has given us and receive His comfort in our life. You see, when we are complaining and murmuring, when we are discontent, we are not comfortable in our walk and thus, get rid of that stone or thorn that is causing this in your life.

In Deuteronomy 1:26-27, as Moses is reviewing the history of the nation of Israel, speaking of their refusal to enter into the Promise Land, we are told, Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; and you complained in your tents, and said, ‘Because the LORD hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.’ 

Just as they complained back then, they complained in Paul’s day and Christians do the same today!  And the idea here, I believe is complaining and disputing against God, which then leads to complaining and disputing with each other.  Keep in mind that Paul is speaking of unity through humility and thus, there is no unity with complaining and disputing with each other.

            Think about this, God is working in you and thus, what flows from your life should be his attributes.  You see, as we allow God to flow through us we are growing, we are maturing in the faith. It shows others we are believers as we are blameless, we are innocent, we are God’s children because as dark as this world might be, you can still shine forth as a bright light to them, a light leading them to Jesus!

            There was a Bishop, who was asked one day what the secret of life was for him, how he could have a quiet and content spirit all the time.  He responded back to this person, “My secret consists in the right use of my eyes. When I meet with any trial, I first of all look up to heaven; I remember that my chief business in life is to get there. Then I look down upon the earth, I think how small a space I shall need in it when I die; and then I look round and think how many people there are in the world who have more cause to be unhappy than I have. And so I learn the Bible lesson, ‘Be content with such things as ye have.’”

            Folks, perspective is everything! We should not complain for our own comfort, so that we may live that abundant life that is only found in Christ!

2.  WE SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN FOR THE COMFORT OF OTHERS

            Another reason we should not complain is for the comfort of others. What do I mean by that? Simply, as one writer put it, “A contented spirit is to a home what sunshine is to the trees and the flowers.” You see, how we respond to situations, what flows from our lives will affect those around us, either in a good way or a bad way.

            John Wesley use to say, “I dare no more fret than curse or swear.  To have persons around me, murmuring and fretting at everything that happens, is like tearing the flesh from my bones.”  In other words, it is not a good thing.

            And, how true that is. A person who continues to complain about this and complain about that is very draining. You are almost afraid to ask them how they are doing! Now I am not saying that we never have a bad day and we never need the encouragement of others, but if that truly is the pattern of your life, murmuring and complaining, that is not a good thing!

            Now, in saying this, may we not lose the compassion and love for people that are hurting, that is not what we are talking about here.  Listen to this story and you will see what I mean. We are told:

Once during Queen Victoria's reign, she heard that the wife of a common laborer had lost her baby. Having experienced deep sorrow herself, she felt moved to express her sympathy. So she called on the bereaved woman one day and spent some time with her. After she left, the neighbors asked what the queen had said. "Nothing," replied the grieving mother. "She simply put her hands on mine, and we silently wept together."

- Source Unknown

            What I am talking about here is that kind of Eeyore mentality. You know, that donkey from Winnie the Pooh who complained about everything, nothing was good, and on-and-on it would go.  As a Christian, what will that tell the people around you if that is how you act? Basically, that you are not content with what you have and thus, if that is what your God is like, if that is what He has done for you, then why would someone want any part of Him!

            You see, as we are content in Christ, we will shine forth for Christ and others will desire to have what we have because of what Christ has done in our lives. Instead of complaining, be content and see the blessing you will be to others!

            Yes, people are watching us and how we act, how we respond will affect their lives as this story illustrates for us. We are told:

Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a storm that caught a vessel off a rocky coast and threatened to drive it and its passengers to destruction. In the midst of the terror, one daring man, contrary to orders, went to the deck, made a dangerous passage to the pilot house and saw the steerman, at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly, and inch by inch, turning the ship out, once more, to sea. The pilot saw the watcher and smiled. Then, the daring passenger went below and gave out a note of cheer: "I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well."

            - Robert Louis Stevenson

            Did you see that? By the way we behave, the things we say can bring comfort to others and folks, that truly is what it is all about! We are to serve others and one way to do that is by manifesting the nature of Jesus wherever we go.  May we be a ray of sunshine to those around us so that they may grow in Christ!  It is as Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13,Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  May we bring comfort to others as we are content in Christ!

3.  WE SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN TO PLEASE GOD

            The last reason we should be content and not complain is to please God.  If we are murmuring and complaining all the time do you think that pleases God? Absolutely not! You see, what you are saying by complaining and murmuring is that God has placed you in this situation, in this mess and maybe He has lost control, maybe He can’t do anything about it, maybe He doesn’t care and all kinds of foolish and wrong things.

            Folks, God never makes a mistake and what we go through in this life is for our own good, for our own growth and we may not like it, but it is what is best for our lives, it is what is best for us! You see, no trials, no difficulties come upon us in this world without God’s knowledge and consent. Peter put it like this in I Peter 1:6-9, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.

            Trials test our faith, they help us to grow in our faith and thus, instead of fighting against them, instead of complaining and murmuring, ask the Lord to strengthen you through them so that you may grow in Him! Solomon spoke these wise words as he wrote, The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3. Don’t be a fool and fight against the Lord, but allow Him to direct your paths and then walk by faith!

            Now, if you don’t think our complaining displeases the Lord, listen to what we are told in Numbers 11:1, Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.  The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, AND THE people grumbled and deplored their hardships, which was evil in the ears of the Lord, and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burned among them and devoured those in the outlying parts of the camp.And The Living Bible puts it like this, The people were soon complaining about all their misfortunes, and the Lord heard them. His anger flared out against them because of their complaints, so the fire of the Lord began destroying those at the far end of the camp.  You see, no matter what version you read, their complaining was displeasing to God!

Here in Numbers 11, only after only three days on their journey to the Promise Land they are complaining and truly this is the pattern of someone who is not walking with the Lord. They receive the blessings of God and then a circumstance arises and they are complaining.  What they are saying is that they are not satisfied with what God is doing and thus, they are complaining. Can you imagine some 3 million people complaining and God hears their complaints and He is not pleased.  And we are not even told what they are complaining about because the issue is not their complaints, but their hearts. And God is so displeased with them that He sends the fire of His judgment upon them and those on the outskirts of the camp were consumed!  And the people cry out to Moses because they are afraid of God, they didn’t know Him or they didn’t believe that He is for them.  This judgment was to draw them back from their unsatisfied heart!

Folks, as Christians we can’t live on the fringe or the boarder of our faith because if you are not close to the Lord, you will complain and like the children of Israel you are saying that God is not in control over the situation you are facing, or you are not satisfied in what He is doing, He is wrong, and that is not true! Just as the children of Israel were so blessed by God and yet were complaining, we too can follow in their footsteps! It is amazing what we complain about, isn’t it!  Be thankful to God, rest in Him and walk by faith.  That is the lesson God is trying to teach the children of Israel and us because there are giants in the land!

            Thus, we need to learn to be content in what the Lord has given to us and not complain for our complaining, our murmuring is displeasing to God.  Paul, in I Timothy 6:6-12 tells us what true contentment is all about. He wrote, Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

You see, it is not just living a godly life but being content with the life that God has given you.  Paul not only taught that but he lived it! You see, there is great gain in a life lived that way because your life is not dominated by bigger, better, newer things. Whatever God has given to you, you are content and thankful because God has given it to you.  You are content and thankful because the reality is, we don’t deserve anything and yet God blesses us exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think!

            Barclay comments on this word contentment and says, “The word used here for contentment is autarkeia . . . by it they meant a complete self-sufficiency. They meant a frame of mind which was completely independent of all outward things, and which carried the secret of happiness within itself. Contentment never comes from the possession of external things.”  Now, as you turn on the television and watch some of these televangelists you see they are not content but want more and they want you to pay for it!  That is what we are not to do, we are to be content in what God has given to us.

            I like what Paul said in II Corinthians 9:8, And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  God will give to us all that we need to accomplish the work He has called us to do – we are sufficient in Him and we need to be content in Him!

In our society there are many people who are not content with their life and Paul’s point is that if you have food and clothing what more do you need? And think about this, the poorest person in this congregation here in Manitowoc is wealthier than 90 percent of the world’s population- and we are not content!  Jon Courson tells us:

            In the mountains of Mexico lie two adjacent springs. One sends forth hot water, the other cold.  “Your people must thank Mother Nature for hot and cold water right next to each other,” said a travel guide to an Indian as he washed his clothes in the springs.  The Indian wisely answered, “No, we grumble because she didn’t supply soap.”

            You see, there is always something to complain about if you are not satisfied in the Lord and what He has provided!

            “But if I only had more money I could . . .” And that is a big driving force for people today in America as evidenced by the huge increase in gambling, Lotto and-so-on.  But is it true, that money brings happiness?  Listen to what some who have money have said about it:

            John D. Rockefeller once said, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.”  Cornelius Vanderbilt added, “The care of millions is too great a load . . . there is no pleasure in it.”  Millionaire John Jacob Aster described himself as “the most miserable man on earth.”  Despite his wealth, Henry Ford once remarked, “I was happier doing mechanic’s work.”  And John D. Rockefeller commented, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.”  These are people who have had money and they saw it as emptiness and yet, look at the people who are trying to get rich, if they only see their treasure is in the Lord!

            Folks, this is not a suggestion or a principle, it is truly a command. And we all probably need to deal with this at some level in our life, give it to God and be satisfied in what He has given to us, because, as I have said, our treasure is truly in Him and if we have the Lord, there truly is nothing that we need and yet, He will supply us with what we need to accomplish the work He has called us to do!

            As I bring this study to a close this morning, may we learn the lesson and rejoice in the Lord for all He has done in our lives, is doing in our lives and will do in our lives. May we be content in Him!  Remember, we should not complain for OUR OWN COMFORT! We should not complain FOR THE COMFORT OF OTHERS! And we should not complain TO PLEASE GOD! Let me leave you with this to think about. We are told:

            Sometime ago there appeared in a newspaper a cartoon showing two fields divided by a fence.  Both fields were about the same size and each had plenty of the same kind of grass, green and lush.

            In each field there was a mule, and each mule had his head through the fence eating grass from the other mule’s pasture. All around each mule in his own field was plenty of grass. Yet the grass in the other field seemed greener or fresher, although it was harder to get.

            And in the process the mules were caught in the wires and were unable to extricate themselves. The cartoonist put just one word at the bottom of the picture – “DISCONTENT”!

- Earl C. Willer

            What side of the fence are you on?

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