This morning I was sorting through the notes on my desk. All the bits of information that accumulate through teaching videos, podcasts, sermons, Bible studies, and personal Scripture meditation. I came across a sheet from a study I did a few summers ago with insights gleaned from the book of Exodus chapters 14-17:7. It was a good save.
From these chapters, I was asked to glean insight into gratitude versus grumbling, then pull a personal message from the findings.
What I learned about gratitude from the Israelites:
–Gratitude is action oriented.
–We are to act according to what we know of God, not what we see or what the situation seems to be according to our finite understanding. [Exodus 14:15]
–The situation is not a surprise to God. [“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” “he will pursue them”] With God there is purpose, “I will gain honor” “that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
–God is all-powerful and can accomplish extraordinary feats. A proper perspective of God results in a heart of gratitude. Praise is an attitude, (sacrifice of praise) and should not be triggered by our interpretation of circumstances… “this is good”—the Lord parted the waters; “this is bad”—there is no water to drink. We must practice the sacrifice of praise—offering my praise regardless of my perception of the situation.
–A heart of gratitude can be developed by living a life of expectancy, expecting God to do something extraordinary. The Israelites did not recognize the extraordinary–the bread God gave them when they were hungry. They asked, “what is it?” The manna was not what they expected.
What I learned about grumbling:
–Grumbling embraces the negative. The situation is a mistake—it would have been better “IF” this problem did not occur etc. [Exodus 14:11-12] What has happened will not work for my good—“UNBELIEF.”
–Grumbling places blame and removes personal responsibility—we have no choice in the situation, we are a victim of our circumstances, it is oppressive.
–Complaints are against the Lord [Exodus 16:7-8]. God responded with compassion despite the grumbling and gave them water and food.
The message I gleaned from these passages:
To have the right heart attitude, we gather what we need for each day. [Exodus 16:16] Some days we may need to gather much and other days little according to our needs [Exodus 16:18]
We use all that God makes available each day, not leaving any till morning [Exodus 16:19] God tells us His grace is sufficient for each day.
For the best result in any situation, know what the Lord has said and follow His direction [Exodus 16:23] The Lord will accomplish what is ordained and it will bring Him glory. [Exodus 16:24] Therefore we can walk through the day praising God, rather than grumbling about our circumstances.
God is a generous, bountiful God [Exodus 16:29] “See! The Lord has given you.” The Lord gave what was needed. In this case enough manna for the Sabbath. But the Israelites had to gather it.
We too need to gather enough bread for our day.
Matt 4:4–But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” NKJV
Therefore, we go to His Word each morning to seek all the promises and instruction we need. Depending on our circumstances it may be a little or a lot.
Contemplate Your Ways
1-How do you keep an attitude of gratitude? Can you think of circumstances where you turned the urge to grumble into a praise?
2-Do you spend more time in prayer and in God’s Word on those difficult days? If yes, how has this been of benefit? Be explicit in your examples.
** The Bible study that prompted this reflection is “Satisfy My Thirsty Soul” chapter 7 “I Bow My Attitude” by Linda Dillow published by NavPress.