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How To Be More Grateful
Message by Dr. Rick Mandl at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, August 22, 2020
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Sermon Manuscript: Stay Positive Message 2, The Cure For Complaining
Sermon preached by Dr. Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock Baptist Church , August 22 & 23, 2020
Hey church family – great to welcome you as we continue our new series called “STAY POSITIVE.” Today talking about... The cure for complaining. Do you ever get sick and tired of negativity? I know that a lot of you do, because I hear you complain about it. And even if you’re not a complainer, odds are you know somebody who is. In fact some of us have to limit the time that we spend with certain people in our lives – even people we love – because so often we walk away from the time we spend with them, with negativity. It seems like it’s human nature to complain. Sometimes it seems easier to complain than to look for the positives. And that’s sad because Gratitude is good for you. Complaining...not so much.
I came across an article that talked about the psychological benefits of gratitude in our lives. According to this article, there are at least five different ways that gratitude can positively impact your life.
- Gratitude eliminates toxic emotions.
- Gratitude reduces pain,
- Gratitude improves sleep quality,
- Gratitude aids stress regulation
- Gratitude reduces anxiety and depression
This may be part of the reason why God tells us in our Memory verse for this week from Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without complaining and arguing...” Some of you look at that and you wonder...What’s wrong with complaining? Some of you may feel like it’s your spiritual gift. But the fact is that complaining is a symptom of something deeper. It’s a symptom that you’re focusing on, and preoccupied with, the negative, and the bad things in this life. Not on the things, that God wants you to be focused on. Not on the blessings, in this life. And when you continue to complain on a regular basis, then it becomes a negative trait in your life and when that starts to happen, then people begin to refer to you as a “complainer.” And that’s why Paul said - “Do everything without complaining and arguing.”
We need to remove complaining from our life because it’s destructive. It’s a rare thing to find a person who voices one complaint and then they are done. What happens more often is that — one complaint becomes two. Two becomes three. Three becomes four. And before you know it you are “a complainer” and you are inviting others to complain around you. Why Is Complaining So Dangerous?
Two reasons there on your notes... If OFFENDS the HEART of God. If there’s one group in the Bible that is known for complaining more than any other, it would be the children of Israel in the O.T. You know the story... They were slaves, in bondage to the Egyptians and they had one prayer, 'God, get us out.' And God answered their prayer. God raised up a leader, Moses, God went and did 10 miraculous plagues. God changed the heart of Pharaoh, And Pharaoh let them go. The children of Israel walked out of Egypt, but then Pharaoh changed his mind and he sent the army after them and they were surrounded... On one side by sea, on the other side by these mountains, and here came these armies. So what did God do? God parts the Red Sea! The children of Israel walk through on dry ground, the Egyptian army follows, God closes the sea, washes them all away. Now at long last the Israelites are free. Once they are in the wilderness... God feeds them miraculously, God pulls water from a rock, Their clothes never wear out, And what do they do in response to this provision from God? They complain because they don't like the food and they say, 'We wish we would have died back in Egypt!' And that offends the heart of God.
Think about it this way... Those of you who have children, Have you ever done a lot for ONE of your children only to have them whine about it? You know, you bless them in so many ways and they just come back at you, "Oh, I'm so bored, I've got nothing to do," "My life stinks!" And you just want to say very tenderly, with all the love of the Lord, "You ungrateful little brat!" You know, I imagine that's how God feels sometimes when we complain. In Numbers chapter 11 we read these words from the children of Israel. From the people that God had delivered out of slavery and bondage in Egypt From people that He was leading into freedom. We read that...“Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. What happened next? Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them.”
Their complaining made God so angry, it so offended Him that He shot fire and burned the outskirts of the camp. Why???? Because when we complain, we’re rebelling against God. We’re saying...“I know God is all powerful, and that He’s in control of all things, but He’s not doing a very good job of running things.” “If I was in control I’d do a better job.” When we complain, we’re questioning God’s….
- Goodness & His
One time, Moses was talking to God about the people who were complaining, Moses said “I can’t handle this God, all these people keep complaining about me.” And God set Moses straight and told him “Moses, you’re wrong! The people may be complaining TO you but they're complaining ABOUT me.' God takes our complaints personally, it offends the heart of God.
A second reason why complaining is so dangerous is because… It CAN ROB us of BLESSINGS. Look at what happened to the Children of Israel. In Numbers 14 God spoke to Moses and he said to him, “How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against me. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live...You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you.” Numbers 14:27-28, 30 God said to Moses, tell these people that the very thing that they wanted... To enter into a land of their own...To enter into a land that I was preparing for them...Tell them that they won’t live to see it. God spoke to Moses and he said, “Aside from Joshua and Caleb, none of the people among you will set foot in the promised land.” He said “You've complained so much, I'm not going to bless you with what I wanted to bless you with, and I'm not going to give you what you wanted most of all.” Now, I can't prove that God is ever going to do that in your life. But, because He did it here, I believe that there is a fair chance, that there is something that God really wants to bless you with. Or there's something that you really want and God would love to give it to you. And yet your complaining is keeping it from coming your way.
Complaining Offends the Heart of God. It Can Rob us of Blessings. What’s the cure for a complaining heart? The cure is to Develop An Attitude Of Gratitude. How do I develop that? Let me give you three statements, which, I believe if you add to your thinking will help you to develop an attitude of gratitude.
- I’ll remember that every GOOD GIFT I have comes FROM GOD
James when he writes in scripture says this...“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 I would challenge you to recognize this and to thank God for it.. The goodness of God and the gifts he gives is something we see all throughout the pages of scripture. God in his dealings with Noah, gave him the plans for an ark and he gave him the ability to build it. You look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, and not only did God give her an historic assignment that would set her apart from all other women, but along with that he gave her the faith to say yes to that. You think of the wisemen in that Christmas story, and you realize that as they came seeking Jesus God gave them a star to lead them. And to you and me God gives us his only son, as a sacrifice on the cross to pay the price for our sins and then as Jesus completed his mission and returned to heaven, he said, I’m going to leave with you my spirit – the Holy Spirit who will be with you and guide you and comfort you and counsel you.
Why is it so important to realize that every good gift we have comes from God? The reason is because when we recognize that everything we have is a gift from God, it will move us from an attitude of entitlement to an attitude of gratitude. I’ll remember that every good gift I have comes from God. That’s the first statement
Here’s the second ...
- I will not let WHAT I WANT blind me to WHAT I HAVE
There is nothing wrong with trying to better the situation you are in. If there are things that you want, and I’m talking about good things. Things that God would be pleased for you to have...And it’s within your ability to work to try and get those, that’s great. But, if your pursuit of those things is blinding you to the good things that God has given you, then that’s a problem. The writer or Ecclesiastes said it this way...He said...“Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 6:9 It’s better to enjoy the things that God has given you than to spend your time thinking about the things out there that you hope will somehow may you happy.
If you focus on what you have, you can give thanks. If you focus on what’s out there that you don’t have you can lose sight of what’s right in front of you. So, let me encourage you...Those of you watching on line...I want to encourage you to put this into practice. Maybe for the next five seconds...Think about something that you’re grateful for and Take a moment, and write it in the chat box, Go ahead and just write something right now that you’re grateful for...Or if you don’t have access to the chat box...Or maybe just say out loud something you’re grateful for. Something you have...Something that God has given you... Something for which you’re grateful...If you’re having a hard time thinking of something for which you’re grateful, then let me challenge you to take advantage of one of those next steps on the back of your notes, and spend some time this week, just taking an inventory of the things for which you’re thankful. This is something we typically do around the 4th Thursday of November each year, but I want to challenge you not to wait. Start working on your Thanksgiving Inventory, and maybe just maybe if you give it a little thought, you’ll come up with your own list of things for which you can give thanks right now. Hopefully if you take your own inventory, you’ll come up with a list of things for which you’re thankful
And hopefully it will include more than chicken nuggets. The Apostle Paul had experienced some highs and lows in his life. Listen to what he wrote... “…For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ” Philippians 4:11-13. I want you to notice something there. Even the Apostle Paul said...“For I have learned how to be content." He knew it didn’t come automatic. Times weren’t always good for him. He went through some really hard times. He ultimately lost his life for following Jesus. Contentment for the Apostle Paul, just like for you and me was a lesson that he had to learn. But Paul knew that that lesson is easier to learn when...You remember that every good gift you have comes from God. When you don’t let what you WANT blind you to what you HAVE
And third ... When you ...
- Turn every BLESSING you have into PRAISE
That’s the third statement that will help you develop an attitude of gratitude. “I’ll turn every blessing I have into praise.” Every blessing, every good thing that God gives me I will turn into worship of Him. Why is this so important? It’s so important because...Of what the alternative is...If I don’t turn every blessing that God gives me into praise, do you know what I do? If I don’t turn them into praise, then what I do is, I turn them into pride. And I start to feel like...It’s all about me. I did this… I earned this...And I deserve this...And suddenly it’s about my hard work, and my cleverness, and it’s not about God. The Apostle asked the question...“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? I’d challenge you to think about that for a moment. “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? The answer you ought to come up with is nothing. Nothing! And then he writes further and says...And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 It is a gift And when you receive a gift, the correct response is to say “Thank You.” To praise him for the blessing of that gift.
Three statements to help you develop the attitude of gratitude...Here they are again ...
- I’ll remember that every good gift I have comes from God
- I will not let WHAT I WANT blind me to WHAT I HAVE
- I’ll turn every BLESSING I have into PRAISE
Nobody wants to be a complainer. Grateful people are happier They’re healthier They’re the kind of people that others want to be around. If you struggle with complaining...Let me a challenge to you this week. It’s there on the back of your notes...It’s on your connection card...And what it is, is our ONE WEEK NO-COMPLAINTS CHALLENGE. Here’s the challenge. It’s to commit that this week you are going to focus in on who God is and what He’s done for you, instead of complaining. It takes a lot of energy to complain, and for one week you are going to accept this challenge and see what God might really do in and through your life… Because you are going to lay the complaining aside and do your best to begin to develop an attitude of gratitude. I think you can expect to see some powerful things happen in your life if you accept this challenge. So I’m asking you to say that for this next week “I am going to accept this no complaints challenge.” I am going to lay those complaints aside and I am going to focus in on who God is and what He’s done. If you feel like this is asking more than you can commit to, then feel the freedom to adjust the challenge... Feel the freedom to modify it. Maybe for you it would be a big enough challenge to say “For ONE DAY I will remove all complaining from my life” Still too much? How about ONE HOUR? You decide. But we grow through the next steps that we take. When you decide to do something different than you always have.
Do you want to develop an attitude of gratitude? Ask God to help you to remember that every good gift comes from Him. Ask Him to help you to, not let what you WANT, blind you to what you HAVE. Ask Him to help you to turn every blessing you receive into a response of praise. Let’s do that together as we turn to him in prayer...
From Series: "Stay Positive"
You can discover a whole lot to smile about if you know where to look. And we can help you find it! Don’t let life get you down. Stay joyful. Stay hopeful. And Stay Positive! Cynicism and negativity may be the easy choice, but they're not the best choice. If you seek what’s good, you’ll see what's good. Let's embrace the way we're created to think and Stay Positive. This six-week series will help your attenders learn to be thankful and excited in spite of all the negativity we experience in this world. Weekly topics include optimism, gratefulness, encouragement, generosity, enthusiasm, and confidence.
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