Stop Whining and Start Shining
By Bruce Blakey on July 31, 2022
Stop Whining and Start Shining
By Bruce Blakey on July 31, 2022
I invite you to take your Bibles now, you can open up to Philippians chapter 2 for our time in God's word here this morning. And we're going to be looking at verses 14 through 16. But I want to read from verse 12, down through verse 16 as we begin our time, and so once you're there in Philippians, chapter 2, out of respect for God's word, let's stand for the reading of Scripture. Philippians 2:12-16. The apostle Paul says this:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
Amen. That's the reading of God's word. Please be seated. Verse 14 there is like a shocking slap in the face kind of a verse. And it's that way because of one little word. It's the word “all”; do “all things without grumbling or disputing.” That is a command. And there are no conditions to that command. And there's no allowance for any exceptions to that command. It's “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” That's really hard for us as Americans because we are a culture of complainers. We complain about everything; that is the way we want it to be or the way we think it should be. We will complain about anything and everything. And you should just stop and think about some of the things that we complain about. I mean, I've even met people in Orange County who complain about the weather. You should go live some of the places I've lived. Or we complain about the traffic, we hate the 405 freeway. We complain about work, the kind of work we have to do, the people we have to work with, the people we have to work for, the customers we have. And you know, some days we'll complain about the weather, the traffic, and the work all together. We'll complain about the media, we’ll complain about umpires, we'll even complain about our favorite teams when they're not doing what we think they should be doing. We will complain certainly about the government. We're a culture of complainers. And you know, and I know that when you're in a group of people and somebody starts the complaint train, it's real easy for everybody else to jump on and join in with the complaining. And the church is not immune to this. Because we will complain about all those other things, and then we add some church things to complain about. Like how come that person gets to do that, and I don't get to do it? Or how can we do things this way, or not that way? Or how come we have to stand up and sit down so many times? Just thought I'd bring it home here a little bit.
This is why this command is here. This is not written for no reason at all. This was an issue in the church at Philippi. It is still an issue today. This is a command that applies to all people in all places at all times. And it is something that hurts the testimony of the church. You know, we were talking this summer about May God Save America. Well, if we want to be a part of what he would do here in America, then this is an area that we need to change. In fact, this was so important that you'll notice at the end of verse 16 that the Apostle Paul says, if you guys don't get this, this not complaining, and not grumbling or disputing, if you don't get this, it'll be like I have run and labored in vain; I wasted my time with you Philippians. That's how important it is. And it is a mark of true spirituality when there is less grumbling, and more giving of thanks, and more expressions of joy in the life of a believer. We need to stop the whining and start shining. That's what we want to look at today in our text, and our text gives the commands, and it also gives reasons for why we should keep this command.
Let's look again at the command in verse 14. It says do all things without grumbling or disputing, and you could put this down for point one: You need to stop all whining. Stop all whining. And let's think about the “all things” for a minute. That would include all things that God would have you to do in the course of your normal life, all things at home, all things at work, all things at school, all things at church and all things even when you're out playing. We will argue and grumble and fuss even when we're supposed to be having fun. It means that you're not going to grumble about all things related to your marriage, related to parenting, related to ministry. That means that you're not going to grumble about anything, even in the midst of trials and adversities. You're not going to grumble about where you live, or where you work, or who you're married to. You're going to do all things without grumbling or disputing, and the word “without” there is a word that speaks of a total exclusion. You're to do all things without even the hint of grumbling or disputing.
Now let's think about what those words mean, grumbling or disputing, because at this point, you must be thinking, surely, it doesn't mean what I think it means. But it does. Grumbling is described as grouchy, complainy, murmuring. It's an expression of discontent and dissatisfaction. It's fussing, just good old fussing. When our boys were young, you might find this hard to believe, but they were like normal kids, which meant that they went through their periods of fussing. And so, one day I came home from work, and my wife wants to have enough of the fussing, because on the refrigerator door, there were some fuss-meters, with the names of the kids on the fuss-meters. I checked carefully to make sure there wasn't one with my name on it. And you know, it was a little meter, you could move the thing and you got a warning, and then you had to spend five minutes up on your bed in your room doing nothing for five minutes. And the point of that … and then it got longer. Next time, it's 10 minutes, and then 15 minutes. And the point of that was, nobody wants to listen to somebody fuss, so if you're going to fuss, you're going to go do it all by yourself. And it was pretty effective, because for little boys to have to sit on their bed and do nothing for a period of time, I mean, that's like being cast into outer darkness. And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. But they we needed to reaffirm this point that there's no fussing. And like I said, there's no exceptions to this. The exception that gets used so often nowadays is well, I'm just venting. Oh, okay? Just venting. But other than that, that makes it all right. No, that's grumbling. Let's just call it what it is. That's grumbling. And you're not to do any of that.
The other word disputing is a word that speaks of kind of a skeptical questioning or criticizing. It's to debate and argue about your circumstances. And so, grumbling and disputing, do all things without grumbling and disputing. You’ve got to stop all whining. And perhaps the best example of this for us to look at is the children of Israel during their time in the wilderness. Let's take a look at some of that. Let's go back to the book of Exodus. Exodus chapter 15. And let's just travel along with the children of Israel for a while and see what it was like.
Get to Exodus 15. They've just been miraculously and powerfully, and obviously, supernaturally delivered out of Egypt by God, capped off by them walking through the Red Sea. The Red Sea was parted, they walk through on dry ground, and they're on the other side. And then chapter 15 of Exodus starts off with them singing the song of Moses, rejoicing in what the Lord has done for them. But it doesn't take long for things to change. Exodus 15:22-23 says, “Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days into the wilderness, and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore, it was named Marah.” And the people said, surely God is with us. And if we just wait on him, he'll provide water for us. I mean, after all, he just delivered us out of Egypt, he parted the Red Sea. Providing water? That's no problem. Is that what they said? Exodus 15:24, “And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” Doesn't take very long for the grumbling to start. And if you read the rest of the chapter there, you see that God miraculously provided water for them to drink in that situation. But they quickly forgot about that because when you get to Exodus 16:1-3 we read this: “They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Well, now they're complaining about being hungry. And you know, they're remembering all the meat and the bread that they had back in Egypt. They're conveniently forgetting the fact that they were slaves in Egypt. They're just thinking about the food that they got to eat. But the thing you need to notice is this grumbling, it isn't just grumbling against Moses or Aaron. It's grumbling against God. And that's brought out, keep reading in Exodus 16:4 there. It says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.’ So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?’ And Moses said, ‘When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.’”
Whenever you grumble about the traffic, whenever you grumble about work, or the government, or your spouse, you are grumbling against the Lord. That's important thing for parents to pass on to their children that the issue isn't ultimately with mom and dad, the issue is between them and the Lord. Let's keep following the people of Israel.
Exodus 17:1-7. “All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.’ And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’”
It doesn't take long, they just keep forgetting the provision that God has made for them, and they just keep on grumbling. And this becomes their pattern, and it just keeps going. Let's fast-forward a little bit. Let's go to Numbers chapter 11, and pick up the journey there in Numbers 11:1-9. “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” The Chick-fil-A sauce. “But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’ Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.”
So here they are, they're complaining. God is supernaturally providing them with manna to eat every day delivered to them right where they are, and they're complaining because they don't have what they want. And it indicates here that they've tried cooking this manna every which way they can, but they're tired of it. You know, we've tried the banana pancakes. We've had the banana cream pie. We've drank the banana smoothies, we even had manicotti. We're tired of it. We want what we used to have. But I don't know I look at this manna, and it says there in verse 8 that the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. I read that and I think Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Have you seen how they do that, how they take it through the oil? And they're getting free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts delivered to their house every single day. That's not good enough. They got to grumble and complain. Well, they finally get to the edge of the land that the Lord has provided for them. And they send in twelve spies and ten of them come back and say, this is bad news. There are big people, they're big, big fortresses there. We got no chance. It's a nice place, but we got no chance to have them. Joshua and Caleb say, hey, the Lord has given us a great place. Let's go get it. But the people fall in with the ten, and they start grumbling and complaining. And they're going to kill Joshua and Caleb for giving a good report. And here's what the Lord thinks about all of that in Numbers 14:26. “And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, ‘How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.’”
So, they kept saying to Moses, what did you do? Why did you bring us out here just so we could all die out here? And finally, God said, Okay, that's what's going to happen to you because of your grumbling. Instead of going into this great place that I have prepared for you, you're all going to die here in the wilderness. You can see that God takes this seriously. In fact, let's look at what he does to the ten spies who were unfaithful. Numbers 14:36-37 says, “And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land—the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord.”
This is serious stuff to the Lord. God hates grumbling. He hates grumbling. We'll turn over to chapter 16. There you read about a rebellion of some people against Moses and Aaron, led by a man named Korah. And there are some others that joined in with him, Dathan and Abiram about 250 leaders among Israel. And they come to Moses and Aaron, and they say, hey, you guys have been leading long enough. It's time for a change in leadership. And oh, by the way, we're nominating ourselves to take over. And so, God puts them through an exercise to demonstrate, no, Moses is the man that God has chosen. So, they have that demonstration. In fact, what God did is he killed the rebels. In fact, for Korah and his family, the ground opened up and they were swallowed alive.
And so, God demonstrates, hey, this is not good. This grumbling about me and my plan, this is not good. He takes it seriously. He kills the rebels. And look at the response of the people the next day after this dramatic demonstration by God about what he thinks about grumbling. Numbers 16:41-49, says, “But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of the Lord.’ And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’ And they fell on their faces. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.’ So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah.”
God takes this really seriously. This grumbling is a really ugly sin. And the history of Israel's time in the wilderness shows how inclined we can all be to that kind of a response. Now, you might be thinking, well, that's Old Testament people; I would never do that. Well, let me show you a New Testament reference. 1 Corinthians 10, which refers back to the history of the people of Israel in the wilderness and makes an application for the church. 1 Corinthians 10:8-11 says, We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
That is written down not just as history to tell us about the people of Israel and what they did and why it took them so long to get from Egypt to the Promised Land, it was written down for our instruction, so that we would learn from that that grumbling is a serious sin. And for anybody who might think, well, I would never do what they did. 1 Corinthians 10:12, says, “Therefore, that anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” All of this tells us what God thinks about those who are discontented and complain. It is a serious sin, and it's directed at God because he's the one who has ordered all of your circumstances. So, to complain about your circumstances is to complain against the one who has ordered all of those circumstances. We need to take it seriously when God says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” I mean, this is the kind of thing you need to sit up and pay attention to because of how serious God takes it.
So, your assignment, if you're taking notes, you might want to write this one down, your assignment from this sermon. Here's your takeaway. Here's your take home. I don't have a little handout for you like for the kids. But here's your assignment, write it down. Your assignment is to see how long you can go without grumbling. Because it is a sin, right? How long can you go without grumbling? You'll never make a change until you start realizing this is an issue. How long can you go without grumbling? And if you see how serious this is, and you want to stop all the whining, the question then becomes, well, how do I do that? How do I stop whining? How do I start shining?
Well, we go back to Philippians chapter 2, and we're going to be given two answers to that question on how to stop whining and start shining. If you're there in Philippians 2, you'll notice that verse 15 starts off with the word “that,” which could be translated “in order that.” It's introducing what we call a purpose clause, or it's now giving us reasons. Here are reasons why you should not grumble or dispute. And then the first one, they're given in Philippians 2:15, it says, “that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish.” Let's just take a look at that.
And you can put this down for number two: You need to show real Christianity; show real Christianity. This text, those words that I just read there in verse 15, describe a Christian. And what Paul is saying is that by not grumbling, and not disputing, you prove yourself to be a real Christian. This is what a Christian looks like. This is the life of somebody who is seriously working out their salvation. As it said in verse 12 that we read earlier, where he said, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Work it out. You have a responsibility to live out your Christian life and to do it seriously. And what's interesting is, after he makes that command about working out your salvation in fear and trembling, first thing he talks about is “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” That's interesting to take note of. And it is this person who's taking this Christian life seriously, who's living it out, because according to verse 13, God is truly at work within them. It's God who's at work within you. So, with all the power of God at work in the life of a believer, somebody who has been truly born again, someone who, as Shannon even mentioned in the video, has come out of the darkness and into the light, someone who has a new life in Christ.
This is what it looks like for somebody who has received that life and is working it out. And we've given three descriptions of the Christian here in this section, the first word is blameless. Blameless speaks of your outward behavior. It's what other people see. It's a life that's free from accusation or blame. It's a life that can't really be criticized. There's nothing in our lives that somebody could point a critical finger at. In other words, it's a life of moral integrity, at home, at work, at school, everywhere. It's a life of integrity. You’ve got to realize God isn't saving people so they can live like hypocrites. He's saving people and changing people, and that change should be noticeable. Second word that's used here is innocent or harmless. It's a word that means to be pure. It's a word used of unmixed wine or unalloyed metal. It means to be unmixed, unadulterated. This speaks of our inner integrity. It's not enough to be a good church person, you’ve got to be a real Christian. It is to be pure of heart. And Jesus said in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5, “Blessed are the pure of heart.” That's what this is talking about. This is what a real Christian looks like. And then the third description there is children of God without blemish or above reproach. It means to be spotless. It's kind of the summary of the other two. It's a word that was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to sacrifices that were without blemish. Numbers, chapter 6, they're supposed to bring animals that had no blemish, to make their offerings to the Lord. And this is how God sees every believer.
Go back to Ephesians chapter 5:27, talking about what Christ is doing for His church. It says, he's doing what he's doing, verse 27, “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Without blemish. By not grumbling, not disputing, you show the reality of your Christian faith. And that's what America needs to see. You know, when the complaint train starts up at the workplace, this is a real opportunity for a Christian to show the difference that Christ makes. And the key really to understanding what he's getting at here is found back in Deuteronomy chapter 32. You'll notice here later in verse 15, it talks about “a crooked and twisted generation,” that comes right out of Deuteronomy 32, but you need to see the rest of it. So, let's look at Deuteronomy 32. Near the end of Moses’ life, as he's preparing the people down to enter into the land under the leadership of Joshua. And let's just pick it up in verse 3. Where he says, “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! ‘The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.’” Great statements about the character of God. Now he's going to talk about the people of Israel. Verse 5, they, the people “They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children, because they are blemished.” A Christian is a child of God without blemish. Israel, by their grumbling and disputing, had proven themselves to not be his children because they are blemished. They are blemished. And they are a crooked and twisted generation. The grumbling and disputing of the children of Israel shown that they were not children of God, because they were blemished.
So, for the true Christian, to get help in this stopping of all the whining, you need to remember who you are. You're a child of God; you've been adopted into his family. You were his enemy, and yet he sent his son to make a reconciliation between you and him, so that you can become one of his children. And you need to think about the value of being a child of God, and you need to be thankful and joyful. Doesn't matter what my circumstances are, I belong to God. That's what Paul is emphasizing here in Philippians. The importance of rejoicing. In Philippians 2:18, he says, “Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” And Philippians 3:1. Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.” Yeah, the circumstances can be tough, but we can always rejoice in the Lord. And then Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again. I will say rejoice.” I was expecting that. I was expecting a lot more, but you take what we get. And not only is Paul exhorting them to rejoice, and you might think, well, that must have been easy for him. He's probably sitting on a beach somewhere drinking iced tea, having a good time; easy to rejoice when you're doing that. No, where's Paul when he writes this letter? He's in jail in Rome. And in fact, when Paul had been in Philippi earlier, as you see in Acts 16, he was in jail. He was unfairly treated, unjustly accused, he was beaten, he was whipped, he was locked up in chains inside of prison. And even there, it says that at midnight, in the midst of that terrible situation, and that intense pain, he is singing hymns of praise to God. And we're told everybody in that prison took note of that. Because this is totally different. This represents a radical difference. This is something supernatural.
So, we need to stop all whining, and we need to show real Christianity. Let's go back to Philippians 2:15 and pick it up after “children of God without blemish,” where he goes on to say that we are “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
And you put this down for number three: Need to shine the light. Shining the light, this reminds us that we have a responsibility to the world. There's never a suggestion in the New Testament that Christians or churches should somehow kind of withdraw or retreat from the world. Now it says we live in the midst of them. We live among the people of the world, and we have a responsibility to those people. We can't fulfill that responsibility if we're a whiner, or a grumbler. Paul says we live in a “crooked and twisted generation,” which we saw is taken right out of Deuteronomy 32:5. There it was used to describe unfaithful Israel. Here Paul uses it to describe the unbelieving world as being morally warped and spiritually perverted. Morally warped and spiritually perverted. Would that describe our culture? What do you think? Yeah, yeah. See, usually, when I ask questions, I'm looking for answers. You Bible class people should know that. Talk to me. Anyways, it does describe our society; our society is severely twisted to where the abnormal has now become the normal. And we've been talking about that, as we've been studying through Romans chapter 1, about what it is when people are given over to their sin and what that looks like. And that's what it looks like in our society today. That's the culture that we live in. That's the culture that we're supposed to be trying to reach. So, what are we supposed to be in the midst of that crooked and twisted generation? Why are we here? Well, we're not here to whine about it. We're not here to complain about all those sinners, and what they're doing. We are here to shine the light as Philippians 2:15 says, we are to shine as lights in the world. We are lights, and we are to shine for the Lord. So that's why we say stop whining and start shining. You’ve got to recognize from this that our witness to a large degree is connected to how much or how little we grumble. I mean, I don't know that I've ever been to an evangelism class, where one of the topics was if you want to be more effective in evangelism, stop all the grumbling in your life.
And this is further describing this responsibility to the world. Back again in Ephesians 5:8-9, “for” he says there to the believers: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the world.” You lived in darkness, but now you've been brought into the light. You've been brought out of darkness into the light in the Lord. This describes the new birth. This is the transition that has happened in the life of a true believer, the transformation that has happened. So, because you are light in the Lord, walk as “children of light (for the fruit of the light is found and all that is good and right and true.)” If that's what you've been saved to, to live that kind of a life, and a godly holy believer will have a startling effect on most people. A person in our world who truly models moral integrity, whose life is characterized by goodness and righteousness and truth, a person who demonstrates a real love and forgiveness, a person who does not return evil for evil, but instead gives a blessing, that person is going to shine. Some people may shy away from that light because they love their darkness, but they can't help but take note of the light. But a whiny bellyaching griping Christian is never going to have a positive influence on others. And they won't believe that the gospel can do what you say it can do because they don't see it in you. Or they could legitimately ask if Christ so satisfies, why are you such a whiny, grumpy grouch? I think that's a legitimate question. But our world needs to see the light and not just see the light of our lives, but they need to hear the words of life as verse 16 talks about there. It says to hold fast to the words of life. And the word that's translated there hold fast, it's an interesting word, it can mean to hold on fast, to hold tightly to, but it can also have the meaning of holding out or holding forth or making an offer. And that would seem to fit the context better. Yeah, you need to hold on fast to the Gospel, because you're going to have to hold it out to the world, you're going to have to offer it to the world. And we're giving out the word of life. I love that expression. It's the word of life. And it's an expression that's used throughout the New Testament. Let me just read to you a couple of examples. In John chapter 6. Jesus miraculously feeds the 5000. And then these people start chasing him around, looking for more food, free food. And Jesus says, No, I'm the bread of life. And you need to eat my flesh and drink my blood. You need to be totally committed to me. Well, the people didn't want to hear that. But Jesus tells them in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” You want life? I've got real life to offer to you. Well, if people didn't like that, and they didn't come out to hear the sermon, they've just come out for the food. And so, verse 66, says, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”
Now, these are words of life, words of real life, and those apostles, they caught on to that, and they started spreading those words of life. And you can read about it in the book of Acts where they started stirring up things there in Jerusalem. By the time you get to Acts 5:17-20, it says, “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy, they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, ‘Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” The words of life, that's just another way of describing the gospel, the words of life. What our country needs to see is a life that shines, and they need to hear the words of life. And they need both. Not just one or the other, like people are going to catch on just by watching our lives, or people are going to listen to our words, when we're not really living it ourselves. They need to see both. We need to shine as lights by living above reproach, and by giving the people the words of life. America needs to hear less words of fussing and more words of life. And I want that to be true for me. I want that to be true for you. I don't want to be known for whining. I want to be known for shining. How about you? Does that sound alright. Yeah. That's what our country needs. We want an awakening in America. Then we need to stop whining and start shining. Gospel is the words of life. They are words of life because they contain life in and of themselves, and they give life. And in 1 Peter 1:23, we're told that “you have been born again” by the living and abiding word of God. It has life in it. And the gospel tells us that we can have life because someone died. Christ died so that you might live. He paid the penalty, so that you could be set free. And one of the things he sets people free from is this complaining, grumbling, disputing, whining kind of a life. And this death that Christ did on our behalf, that's what we remember when we take communion. We remember that he laid down his life, and that he shed his blood on our behalf. And as we prepare for communion, and you think about taking communion, you need to realize that not only does God take grumbling seriously, but he takes communion very seriously. In fact, you can read 1 Corinthians 11, and Paul is warning the Corinthians about not taking communion in an unworthy manner. And the unworthy thing that they were doing is that they were grumbling and disputing with each other. They were at odds with each other; they weren't loving each other. And that's to take it in an unworthy manner. It's hypocritical to observe communion, thanking the Lord for the forgiveness of all of your sins, while, at the same time, you're harboring sin. And the Lord takes that seriously. And so, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul explains to the Corinthians, because you're doing this in an unworthy manner, some of you are sick, and some have died. God takes it very seriously; we should take it very seriously. And so, as we prepare for communion, I'm going to pray. Then we're going to have a song, before we partake of the elements. I would encourage you to use this time to examine yourself, to examine your words, to examine your attitudes, to examine your heart. And maybe there's something right here right now that you need to confess before you even take communion. Something that you need to make right before the Lord and confess your sin and acknowledge it to him. And maybe there are some of you here that this grumbling and disputing is not just something that you might do every once in a while as a Christian. So, this defines you. And maybe that's revealing to you that you've never received this new life in Christ. And this would be the time for you to turn from that and to turn to Christ. You could do that right here, right now. Doesn't have to continue that way. You could turn to the Lord right here, right now, and know that he would grant you salvation. What a great way to observe a communion at church by just becoming a Christian. Because you recognize yeah, I'm a grumbler. That's what I do. I do it all the time. I grumble about everything. Well, the Lord can set you free from that kind of self-centered, self-absorbed kind of a life that is committing serious sin after serious sin. The Lord can forgive us because of what the cross accomplished because of the power of what Christ did on the cross. So let me pray for us.
Lord, we are thankful to be here this morning. And Lord, we recognize that when we come to passages like this, it is a strong challenge to each and every one of us to think about our own hearts and our own lives. Are we characterized by being thankful and joyful really in our hearts? Or are we those who grumble and complain? No. Are we those that are always finding fault and complaining about others, arguing about everything? Lord, I pray that you would help us to examine our hearts and to think about Jesus Christ. And think about who he is, what he did, how he left heaven willingly, voluntarily, lovingly, and sacrificially, so that he might come and stand in our place and offer up the sacrifice that we can't on our own. Because he was sinless, when he was reviled, he never reviled in return. He just kept entrusting himself to the Father. And he lived the perfect life. And he laid down that life as the perfect and acceptable sacrifice for all of our sins, so that everybody who trusts in him can stand right before God. Everybody who trusts in him really becomes a new person. And so, Lord, I pray that we might think about Christ that we would desire to honor him, to please him to shine for him in this dark world. Lord as we partake of the elements now, I pray that you will help us to appreciate all the more what Christ has done, for we pray this in his name. Amen.
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