Is There Grumbling In Your Tent?
A young boy was walking in the desert with his father. Suddenly the father yelled for his son to stop and walk slowly to one side. Without hesitation, the boy did exactly as his father had commanded, soon seeing what his obedience had saved him from. A snake lay coiled in his former path, waiting to strike. Had he not immediately obeyed, he most likely would have been bitten.
Would your children have instantly obeyed such a sudden command without question or hesitation? Do they trust you enough to know that you have their best interests at heart, even when they might not agree with you or understand your reasoning? Or, would they, as the Israelites did over and over, find something to grumble and complain about within minutes of their own rescue? "They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord" (Psa. 106:25).
The Israelites certainly had every reason to love and trust their Heavenly Father. After all, He had brought them out of Egypt and performed miracles in their sight. He had provided for them over and over and given them specific commands to keep their lives joyful, strong and fulfilled. Yet, for some reason they continued to be rebellious. They complained, they made and worshiped idols…and they consistently disobeyed their leader, Moses, whom God had selected for them. In short, they were, as the Lord called them – a "stiff-necked people." They were faithless, wayward and completely lacking in trust. They had not yet allowed the Lord to make His love complete in them.
Do our households today resemble the Israelites during such times? Or is the Word of the Lord revered, taught, read, studied, memorized, and, most importantly – faithfully obeyed? Are the commands of God devotedly followed instead of routinely ignored? Are parents respected and shown honor, or is there persistent grumbling and resistance inside your home? Parents, we must be trustworthy as we follow Christ, so that our children can learn to obey God through our example. We must teach our children to follow the model of Jesus, who obeyed His own earthly parents: "Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them…" (Luke 2:51). Jesus also obeyed His heavenly Father without question: "…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me" (John 14:31).
Here are some practical suggestions to help strengthen your household to obey the Word of God:
We cannot fully obey the Word of God when we do not truly love Him. Study through these Scriptures and discuss them as a family. Write them on cards and put them on your refrigerator as a daily reminder. Cultivate love for God by learning to love His Word and obeying it in practical ways in your home. Greet the Lord each day and be constantly aware of His presence in your midst. Can you imagine the effect this will have on your collective behavior as the Lord makes His home with you?
• "Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me’" (John 14:23-24).
• "If you love Me, you will obey what I command…Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him" (John 14:15, 21).
• "This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith...." (1 John 5:3-5).
• "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul" (Joshua 22:5).
Love OthersChristians are known by the fruit they produce. Loving others demonstrates fruit being actively produced by the love of Christ in us. As a family, decide how you can demonstrate the love of Jesus to those in your church and in your community on a regular basis and then go DO it! Maybe it is as simple as volunteering to clean the restrooms at church, or serving meals at a local shelter on a regular basis. "Serve Him with all your heart and soul," as Joshua 22:5 says.
• "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.... You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. This is My command: Love each other" (John 15:12-17).
Love His WordTo love God’s Word is to obey it. As a family, talk about ways you have been disobedient to the Word of God. How does that make you feel? Ask the Father for His forgiveness about things you have seen in His Word and not done for Him. Now talk about ways you have obeyed Him. Pray for strength to put into practice the commands of the Lord, even when it’s hard! See how many commands you can find in the New Testament and commit yourselves to loving His Word so much that you are even willing to sacrifice to obey it.
• "I obey Your statutes, for I love them greatly" (Psa. 119:167).
• "See how I love Your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to Your love" (Psa. 119:159).
• "I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word" (Psa. 138:2).
Allow God’s Love to Be Made Complete in You
As a family, talk about what it means to be incomplete. Perhaps by following the world instead of obeying the Word you have felt unfulfilled. What will your family look like to others as they see you doing what Jesus did because you remain in His love and obey His commands? Jesus wants us to stay attached to the vine – to Him! Is your family joyful always (1 Thess. 5:16)? If not, there is something missing. Read, study, memorize, meditate upon and DO His Word each day. Determine to remain in His love day by day, moment by moment, so that His perfect love can be perfected in you and make you complete – as individuals and as a family.
• "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:9-11).
• "We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:3-6).
How Should We Obey God’s Word?
Immediately and without delay! Remember the young boy in the story at the beginning of this article? What if he had delayed his obedience, or refused to obey? It may have meant death. Perhaps we need to realize that our own disobedience to the Lord could also mean death…physically, or spiritually. He gives us His commands for higher purposes than we can possibly imagine. He does not make them lightly, but for our good. It will be impossible to find a command of the Lord that does not point to His love for us! As a family, see how quickly you can obey the commands you see in God’s Word.
• "I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands" (Psa. 119:60).
What Does God Promise When We Obey His Word?
• He promises provision (Deut. 11:13-15).
• He promises abundant blessings (Deut. 28:1-13; Luke 11:28).
• He promises to delight in us and make us prosperous (Deut. 30:9-10).
• He promises to give us long life (1 Kings 3:14).
• He promises contentment (Job 36:11).
• He promises that His love will be made complete in us (1 John 2:5).
• He promises that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will dwell with us (John 14:15-23).
• He promises that we have come to know Him (1 John 2:3).
• He promises to keep His covenant of love with us (Neh. 1:5; Dan. 9:4).
Teaching Children to Depend upon God’s Word
Children are naturally tied to their parents as they grow. It is vital that they are taught to transfer their dependence upon us to dependence upon God, who will never let them down. He will never leave or forsake them. Gradually, as our children grow, we must teach them to place their dependence upon Him and their obedience must be directed toward His plans and purposes for their lives. Their respect, obedience and trust for God and His Word will result in obedience and respect for parents – but they must learn to place God first. Teaching them to trust God’s Word as complete and perfect truth is the key.
Dennis Rainey, executive director of Family Life, stated on a recent radio program that children seem to have power cords running from themselves to their parents. It is the responsibility of parents to detach the power cord from themselves and teach their children how to plug that end of the cord into God’s power. In this transference of power, children can learn that it is the power of God’s Word and their dependence upon it that is most important. He loves them more than we could ever hope to love them. They need to know Him, love Him and obey His Word!
Obeying God’s Word Will Lessen the Grumbling in Your Tent!
The bottom line is to determine what we truly believe about the Word of God. Is it His perfect and infallible message to us…or are we free to pick and choose the parts we like and discard the rest? Resolve as a family that it is the very truth of God, and that what He has to say in the pages of His Word is perfect.
The Israelites seemed determined to be discontent. They could not be satisfied. They seemed unable to trust in God’s unfailing provision. Even when they had direct revelation from the Lord through Moses, they still grumbled, and their complaining led them to disobedience. Without the faith to trust God in loving obedience, we can never be fully satisfied, and we will look a lot like the Israelites as they wandered in the desert.
One young family determined to be obedient to the Word of
God. They placed a chair in a lonely corner of their family room. Whenever
someone was less than contented, or began to grumble, he or she could be
sentenced to time in the "chair of discontent." Parents were not exempt. When he
or she had spent time in self-examination and repentance, and was ready to ask
forgiveness for such behavior, the family would reunite, celebrate and talk
about how to be joyful overcomers in Christ by obedience to His Word. Would your
home experience more harmony and become more actively involved in loving and
serving others because of a genuine love for God’s Word, and a desire to obey it
wholeheartedly? Absolutely! "But as for me and my household, we will serve
the LORD" (Joshua 24:15). Remember, "His commands are not burdensome"
(1 John 5:3). Step out in faith, and be determined to be a family that actively
serves the living God by obeying His Word.
If you would like to read more articles by Kim Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.