Complaining & The Fight Of Faith
A.     Introduction:  The fight of faith is the struggle you face to hold on to God's      promises when you don't immediately see them come to pass in your life. I Tim 6:12     
1.     The fight of faith takes place in between the time you believe God's Word,           God's promise, and actually see / experience the results in your life.     
2.     In the last lesson, we began to talk about a deadly mistake many of us make           during the fight of faith -- we complain.     
3.     To complain means to express discontent.  It is the opposite of being thankful.     4.     Complaining is a very serious issue.          
a.     It cost a generation of Israel the promised land.     Num 14:26-37          
b.     They failed to possess God's promise because of unbelief. Heb 3:19-4:2
1.     But, that unbelief was expressed through complaining.               
2.     At the root of their complaining, we find accusations against God.          
c.     They are an example to us of what not to do!  I Cor 10:6,11     
4.     What is wrong with complaining?          
a.     It is a sin (opens the door to destruction in our lives). Phil 2:14; I Cor 10:10          b.     It gets its information only from sight -- what it sees, feels. II Cor 4:18; 5:7          c.     It does not take God into account and it is an expression of unbelief.          
d.     It is an accusation against God's handling of your life.               
1.     The Bible teaches that God is leading us, guiding us, caring for us.                     Ps 37:23;23:2; Prov 3:6               
2.     Unless you have willfully disobeyed God, where you are is where you                     are supposed to be.               
3.     Therefore, complaining in or about your circumstances is an                     accusation against God's leadership and / or God's provision.     
5.     What about when things are really bad or wrong in our lives?  Does that mean           we can't talk about them?  Do we have to be happy about the problems?            Aren't there times when we have to discuss problems.  How can you do it without complaining?          
a.     There are times when you must discuss the problem; there are times when                you are in a difficult, hurtful situation and you aren't happy about it.          
b.     The fact that we are told not to complain doesn't mean you can't talk                about the problems -- it's how you talk about the bad that matters.               
1.     Complaining is an expression of ungratefulness, unbelief, and                     accusations against God.               
2.     The question is:  can you discuss your problem and still stay grateful,                     full of faith, with no accusations against God?     
6.     When discussing the difficulties of life, we must learn to do two things:          
a.     Discuss the problem in terms of God's Word.          
b.     Apply praise and thanksgiving to the problem.     
7.     We said Joshua and Caleb are examples of how to discuss the problem in           terms of God's Word. Num 13:30; 14:6-9          
a.     When Israel got to the promised land, they saw many obstacles.          
b.     Joshua and Caleb didn't deny what they saw -- they brought God's facts,                God's Word, into the situation.     
8.     We want to look at how to apply praise and thanksgiving to our problems.
B.     Let's first make some general statements about praise and thanksgiving.     
1.     Consider these three scriptures: Ps 34:1; I Thess 5:18: Eph 5:20          
a.     They tell us: praise God continually, and thank Him in and for everything.          b.     If we could learn to do this, there would be no time to complain, and, even                when we discussed the bad, we would be grateful and full of faith.     
2.     To obey these verses seems impossible unless you understand that praise and           thanksgiving have nothing to do with emotions.          
a.     We think it is impossible to constantly praise and never complain because                we know that's not how we always feel.          
b.     If we don't feel like it, how can we do it?  How would it be genuine?     
3.     But, praise and thanksgiving are actually based on knowledge and                     appropriateness, not on our emotions.     
4.     We praise and thank people based on knowledge and appropriateness.          
a.     We know something wonderful about them so we praise them.          
b.     We know they have done something good for us so we thank them.          
c.     In other words, we praise and thank people because it is the appropriate                response in the situation.               
1.     I may be having a terrible day (week, month, year), but if someone                     picks up something I drop, I thank them.               
2.     I may feel terrible physically and emotionally, but if someone shows                     me something they've hand made, I praise them for it.     
5.     Praising and thanking God is appropriate no matter how we feel!          
a.     God is always worthy of praise because of who He is.  Ps 145; Ps 136         
b.     In every situation of life, there is always something to be thankful for:               good that comes from God; good that God wants to bring out of the bad.     
6.     That is hard for some of us because we hold God responsible for suffering in           our lives.  You might say:  No I don't!     But, consider this:          
a.     Have you ever thought:  God is all-powerful and could fix everything in an                instant.  So why doesn't He?!?          
b.     Perhaps you were asking that strictly on an informational level, but for                most of us, hidden in that question is an accusation.     
7.     In order to praise and thank God rather than complain, you must understand           the ground rules of life in this world, and the fact that you and I have no basis           whatsoever on which to blame / accuse God of mishandling anything.          
a.     We tend to look at the hardships, suffering in life, in the world, and say:                 How could a loving God allow all this?  We don't deserve this!!          
b.     There are four key points you must remember:               
1.     Suffering, hardship, pain, death, etc. are here because sin is here.                 2.     God has given man free will, and allows choices to run their course.               3.     There are no innocent people when you match us up to a holy God.               4.     We all deserve only hell and punishment from God.          
c.     One of satan's favorite tactics is to attack the character of God -- He                has been unfair to you; He is holding out on you.               
1.     You have been influenced by these ideas growing up in this world.               2.     Our flesh always wants to blame someone (Adam).  It is an instinctive                     reaction.               
3.     In the difficulties of life, you must remind yourself -- this is just life in                     a sin cursed earth.  God has not been, is not unfair to me.               
4.     And,you must know that God is taking you on the best route through                     this life based on all the factors involved (known and unknown to us)                     for maximum glory and good.
C.     Let's talk about applying praise and thanksgiving to / in our situations.     
1.     In your situation there is always something to be thankful for.          
a.     But, if you are a Christian, you are going to heaven when you die!! You                have plenty to be thankful for!!          
b.     Even in the midst of the bad, you can find plenty to be thankful for.          
c.     Change your focus!!  Begin to thank God for the good.  You'll feel better!!
2.     In addition, you can thank and praise God for the good He wants to bring out           of the bad in your life.     
3.     God has promised to make good out of bad for us. Rom 8:28          
a.     Rom 8:28 is a promise from God. Promises must be claimed or inherited                through faith and patience. Heb 6:12          
b.     Praise and thanksgiving in the face of trouble is an expression of faith in                God's promise to bring genuine good out of genuine bad.     
4.     People have misunderstood Rom 8:28 in two ways:          
a.     People have used it as an explanation of evil = God sent / allowed this so                He could bring good out of it.          
b.     People have tried to determine God's will through circumstances = because                this happened to me, it must be God's will.     
5.     But God has promised to use everything life and the devil throws at us for good           if we will respond in faith = agreement expressed through praise.     
6.     The Bible is filled with numerous examples of this.          
a.     The story of Joseph -- Gen 45:5-8  God took the evil actions of Joseph's                brothers and caused them to work for good for the family, and thousands                of others.  Their actions were evil in intent and purpose, but God used them for great good.          
b.     The children of Israel at the Red Sea -- this seeming obstacle was the very                thing God used to defeat the Egyptians. Ex 14:23-30     
7.     Greatest example of God bringing good out of bad is the crucifixion of Jesus.
a.     The act was evil in intent and purpose, but God made good out of it. Luke                22:3; Acts 4:23; I Cor 2:8          
b.     Jesus is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev 13:8
1.     Acts 2:23 -- Jesus was delivered by the foreknowledge of God.               
2.     God knew what satan would attempt to do to Jesus so He worked it                     into His plan and brought great good out of it.     
8.     The crucifixion gives us insight into the place of praise and thanksgiving.          
a.     We all thank God for that event!!  Why?  For the evil intent behind it?  No!                 For the tremendous good God brought out of it -- our salvation!!         
b.     Had we been standing like the disciples at the foot of the Cross when Jesus                died, would we have been thankful?  No!               
1.     Why are we thankful now?  Because we know how it turned out!!               
2.     If we knew what we know now, could we have been thankful at the                     foot of the Cross?  Could the disciples have been thankful?          
c.     We can thank God in the face of bad, before we see the good, based on                God's promise (Rom 8:28).  That's faith!!     
9.  Let's look at those scriptures on thanksgiving again.          
a.     I Thess 5:18 -- Give thanks in everything = there is always something to be                thankful for.          
b.     Eph 5:20 -- Give thanks for everything = The good that is there; the bad                that God will bring good out of!           
c.      You are thanking God for the potential for good which you don't yet see.
D.     How do you praise, thank in real life (not just in church) when you don't feel like it?
1.     First, recognize it is an act of obedience. Ps 34:1; I Thess 5:18; Eph 5:20     
2.     Second, realize the time you need to do this is when you most don't feel like it.     3.     Third, harness your mouth with praise before complaints come out.          
a.     When you realize that something is about to come out of your mouth that                shouldn't -- praise the Lord!!  (not emotionally or musically)          
b.     When a complaint is about to come out of your mouth, don't let it come                out!!  Instead say:  Praise the Lord!!     
4.     There is always something to be thankful for, to praise God about!          
a.     The good that God has done, and the good that He wants to do.          
b.     We can be thankful for what God has done, is doing, and will do!     
5.     Your tongue is the rudder of your ship. James 3:2-5          
a.     Replacing the habit of complaining with the habit of praising is like                turning around a big ship which has been off course.          
b.     When you turn the rudder of the ship, it is not instantly put exactly                back on course.  But, the process  has begun and eventually, the ship will                be back on course.          
c.     It is the same with developing the habit of praise -- it may take some time                to get your whole body turned around (eliminate complaining), but you've                begun the process once you make the decision to turn your rudder.     
6.     Instead of focusing on what sight tells you and complaining about it, focus on           what God says and praise Him for it.
E.     Conclusion:  Remember these points:     
1.     There will be times when you feel like complaining -- otherwise, God would not           have to tell us not to complain.  Feeling like it isn't wrong, doing it is.     
2.     Complaining can keep you from possessing God's promise because it focuses           just on what it sees and feeds unbelief.          
a.     It is through faith and patience that we possess God's promises. Heb 6:12          b.     If you are going to successfully fight the fight of faith and possess God's                promises, you must stop complaining.     
3.     In the face of your difficulties:          
a.     Discuss them in terms of God's Word.          
b.     Apply praise and thanksgiving to them.
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