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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gratitude and Grumbling (The scourge of self-pity)

Getting a lesson ready for Wed. night.  I thought it would just be on gratitude, but pretty soon my sin of self-pity came to the forefront and the result is below.

Gratitude and Grumbling (The scourge of self-pity)

Holy, Holy, Holy- Keith Green     Speakers      my mom

James 5:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Gratitude flows back to God.
Grumbling flows back to God.

2 Corinthians 7:12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.
When we limit the scope of our understanding of a situation to “how it affects me” we are blinded to all the other things that God is doing in the Body, through the situation, or in front of the devil and his angels.  Job is the prime example, what God was doing had very little to do with Job.  We can be sure that He loves us, but we also need to know that we are not the center of all things.

Numbers (the book of grumbling and complaining.)
Numbers 11:1  Now the people complained to the Lord about their troubles, and when he heard them, he became angry. Then fire from the Lord burned among the people at the edge of the camp. 2 The people cried out to Moses, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped burning. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because the Lord’s fire had burned among them.

11:10Moses heard every family crying as they stood in the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses got upset.

14:1That night all the people in the camp began crying loudly. 2 All the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron, and all the people said to them, “We wish we had died in Egypt or in this desert.

14:26-29  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “How long will these evil people complain about me? I have heard the grumbling and complaining of these Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says. I heard what you said, and as surely as I live, I will do those very things to you: 29 You will die in this desert. Every one of you who is twenty years old or older and who was counted with the people—all of you who complained against me—will die.

Gratitude is not based on circumstances.

Acts 5:40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.  41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Acts 16:22-25  22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

 David took his complaint to God, but also expressed trust in God.

Psalm 13:1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The biggest killer of gratitude is self-pity.
Recognizing when self-pity is rising up.
How do we recognize self-pity? One way to recognize self-pity in ourselves is to closely examine our thoughts and words. When we do so, we are looking for these signs of self-pity: • Repeatedly telling or thinking about how someone wounded you
• Asking “why did this happen to me?”
• Having feelings of unfairness
• Making statements such as “I didn’t deserve…”
• Global statements such as “I will never succeed… I always fail…”
• Having first person focused thoughts “I, me, my”

5 Reasons Self-Pity Is a Sin:
1.  Self-pity implies that God exists to serve me. If I’m unhappy, then he isn’t serving me to my satisfaction.
2.  Self-pity implies that I, instead of God, know what will make me happy, fulfilled, content, and godly.
3.  Self-pity’s root is an ungrateful heart.
4.  Self-pity leads to murmuring, complaining, and an exalted sense of self.
5.  Self-pity is focused inwardly rather than outwardly.
The way out is the same as any other sin, confess, repent, receive God’s grace to walk in His ways.

Considering Elijah and Jeremiah.
Self-pity, the root of most grumbling.
What can we do to combat self-pity? I Kings 19:4-15
Elijah falls into self-pity right after a great victory, there are some lessons in ‘watching’ how God handles it.

 While pitying himself, Elijah asks for death, saying, "It is enough! Now LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" His situation reveals several problems that can fatigue and erode our attitudes: He presumes the outcome, focuses on the problem and himself, and becomes physically exhausted. God provides the solutions to alleviate self-pity: Pray for God's help, rest, find a new focus and new expectations, repent of sins, and take obedient action. When Elijah crawls into his shell, God commands him to get up and get moving. He wants Elijah to choose godly action based on obedience rather than inaction based on his emotions. Genuine repentance and a clear view of our true condition, not a distorted one, fights self-pity.

Jeremiah 15:17-21 — The trap of self-pity
17 I never sat with the crowd
    as they laughed and had fun.
I sat by myself, because you were there,
    and you filled me with anger at the evil around me.
18 I don’t understand why my pain has no end.
    I don’t understand why my injury is not cured or healed.
Will you be like a brook that goes dry?
    Will you be like a spring that stops flowing?
19 So this is what the Lord says:
“If you change your heart and return to me, I will take you back.
    Then you may serve me.
And if you speak things that have worth,
    not useless words,
    then you may speak for me.
Let the people of Judah turn to you,
    but you must not change and be like them.
20 I will make you as strong as a wall to this people,
    as strong as a wall of bronze.
They will fight against you,
    but they will not defeat you,
because I am with you.  (VERDA)
    I will rescue you and save you,” says the Lord.
21 “I will save you from these wicked people
    and rescue you from these cruel people.”

Sometimes when following God gets hard, it becomes easy to complain.  “Why is this happening to me?  I don’t understand.  I thought that if I followed you, all would go well.  Why are you allowing this to happen?”
And that’s how Jeremiah felt.  He felt the sting of rejection and persecution from his own people.  As a result, he started to face doubts about what he was doing for God, saying,
Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?  Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?  (18)
In other words, “I’m suffering here.  Can’t you see?  Are you truly going to help me?  Or will you let me down like so many others have in the past?”

But once again, God doesn’t allow Jeremiah to wallow in his own self-pity.  Rather, he challenges him, saying,
Therefore this is what the Lord says:  “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.  Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.  I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord.  “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel.”  (19-21)
Put simply, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Walk away from your pity party so that I can use you.  Stop your complaining, and instead speak the words I give you.  These people around you would have you become like them, but you must not.  Instead, you must make them bend to you.  They may fight against you and persecute you, but they will not overcome you.  I will rescue you.  So take your eyes off of yourself, and put them on me where they belong.”
   Satan wants you to focus on yourself, because when you do, it’s impossible to focus on God or the people around you.

Let us not be people that focus on ourselves and our own troubles.  Rather, as the writer of Hebrews says,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Behaviors that keep self-pity alive and well.
You tell others of the wrong that has been done to you because it elevates you and dismisses your behavior and focuses on others.  It’s a shift of blame.  You feel justified but never feel satisfied.

Many times unforgiveness is the key holding self pity in place.

Self pity often then leads to unforgiveness, anger and hatred, resentment, rebellion of all sorts, even a murderous and bitter broken heart.

  “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out, into the open, into a spacious, free life.”  Romans 8:6 (MSG)

Terrible results of self-pity.
Self-pity stunts spiritual growth.   It stops you dead in your tracks.  It will bring you down and not let you move forward.  Pity holds on to the past. and drops an anchor in your life causing you to be battered by the storms of life unable to navigate free of other dangers.

Self-pity can also bring us into a sense of hopelessness. This is a belief that something that is greatly desired is unobtainable. Self-pity does this by diminishing our view of what God says about us, and our view of God and His character. It can create beliefs that God has let us down or will let us down (distrust in God), or that God is punishing us for some sin (because we are not forgiving ourselves). Hopeless people have a lack of assurance that God values what they offer Him, and that God will not respond in any way to their overtures. When asked, “If you were to ask God for something, do you really think He would hear you and answer you?” they respond, “I wish I could believe it, but to be honest I don’t feel that God is really interested in me
(or my problems).” There is a feeling of a lack of power or ability to effect the situation.

Self-pity leads us to blame others for our problems and not accept or acknowledge our own responsibility for problems. When we feel others are solely to blame for our problems it takes away our responsibility, and ability, to have any power to impact the problem; therefore keeping us stuck in our problems.

A stronghold of the enemy
Ultimately, self-pity is a tremendous stronghold for the enemy because it separates us from God by creating doubt in God’s goodness and sovereignty. It also separates us from others with self-centeredness, comparison, envy, and pride (a false mask we hide behind). It is an especially effective stronghold because many times it is not a readily apparent sin and is extremely difficult for the person stuck in self-pity to admit; again an issue of pride. Ask God to forgive you for misjudging His character, for doubting Him.

Self-pity becomes a form of manipulation that you might use to get things from other people.
 We cannot cope with life if we are feeling sorry for ourselves and not taking responsibility. The key word is dwelling. If we learn to feel our pain, understand it and learn from it, we will be in a better position to cope with life events. If we keep dwelling on self-pity we will never being in a position to be used by God.

Hope in God, Trust in God
The weapons that deliver the death blow to self-pity.
In contrast, hope is the confident expectation of something good. Having hope means to have trust and reliance. It is desire with expectation of obtaining what is desired or belief that it is obtainable. It is made up of three basic elements:
• Confidence     • Expectancy     • Security

Because hope is confident, secure, and expectant it creates in a person an inner attitude of openness toward God, towards other people and towards life. This is extremely important because we receive what we expect and we receive only what we are open to. When we do not have hope we are pessimistic, expecting the worst, therefore putting up protective barriers against life, against people, and against God. Then we wonder why we never seem to receive anything. Hope is the other side of faith. Faith means that I commit myself in trust to another. Hope means I expect that what I have offered, faith, a committed trust in another, will be responded to, thereby making me open to receive that response. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) The person who suffers from self-pity is often a person with a great deal of compassion; their focus is just off. When they are able to take their focus off of themselves they become tremendously effective in ministry because of their ability to truly relate to another person’s pain.

Thoughts to fight self-pity.
(1)I deserve worse
I should be screaming in agony in hell right now for my rebellion against God; instead, I’ve merely been criticized by someone.  I should be burning in torment, but I only have to replace my car engine.-
(2)I could be going through this trial apart from Christ
Millions of unbelievers suffer tragedies, disease, and evil at the hands of others apart from the love of Jesus.  They have no comfort from his Spirit, no hope for eternity, no God to help them.  They suffer here then slide into eternal destruction.  Though I may be hurting, my Good Shepherd will never forsake me.

 Remember that God is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
  Remember that this world is not all there is. As we respond in faith to God, especially in the hard times, we are banking faith rewards in Heaven.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”(2 Corinthians 4:17).                 (The call and the key)

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