- What do you tend to complain about most?
- What are you doing to change it? If you can’t change it, how can you actively change the way you think about it?
- Who do you know that is a good example of a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude? What about them stands out to you?
Good morning Everyone! Welcome to Hope City Church, my name is Peter, and I’m so glad that you’re here. Today we are beginning a brand-new series called My Big Fat Mouth, and it’s important because some of you have a “BIG FAT MOUTH”. J Stop elbowing the person next to you.
Somebody asked me, “How many weeks are we going to spend on this message series?” The answer is as long as it takes. It may be four, it may be five… YEARS. I don’t know how long it will be, but we’re going to get this right.
Here’s why this is so important. Our words have the power to give life. Our words have the power to take life. They have the power to lift you up or beat you down. Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about the problem of lying… we’re going to talk about the problem of criticizing… and we’re going to talk about gossip.
This entire message series is based upon something that Jesus said in Matthew 12:34. He was speaking to the Pharisees, or religious leaders of the day, and he said this amazing truth.
out of the overflowof the heartthe mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
What’s inside of yougives definition to what comes out of you. There is something so powerful about our words. So much so that we are going to spend the next 4 weeks talking about this!
Recently, my wife, Tiffany,and I were working in the kitchen getting dinner ready on a Saturday night, and one of our kids was working on their homework at the table nearby. We had a buys weekend… it had been filled with fun events for every kid in the family, than that Saturday we spent the day together, and had some fun together, making sure to balance both social and family time… and so while Tiffany and I are making our kids dinner, preparing food for them, this beloved child of mine, pipes up and says, Can you come here and help me? I need help. Remember, we’re preparing THEIR dinner, and so I said, “Sorry, I can’t help right now.” And I kid you not, this is the next thing that came out of their mouth… “YOU NEVER HELP ME!”
WOOOOOH…. I was hot. Are you kidding me? What do you call me driving you all over town, have you forgotten what I did for you all day? Or, wait… what about what I’m doing right now… Does this not count? I don’t ever do anything for you? And one word after another was focused on complaining.
I want you to personalize this so that you’ll hear the message through the lens of your own complaining. I want to ask you, “What is it that you complain about the most?” I want you to think about it and be really honest. Let it kind of rise to the surface.
For me, I probably complain most about how on the go I am. Work never ends… There is no 9-5 in my life. WAH… WAH… WAH… Poor me.
What do you complain most about?
Maybe you complain about not being married. Everyone else is married, or everyone else is having a baby. And all you can say is, I WISH I WAS MARRIED. And then you get married, and what do you complain about? UGH… MY HUSBANDis so annoying. You should hear what He does… he flicks his contacts on the floor. Like he just takes them out of his eyes and flicks them on the floor. GROSS. Or maybe you complain about how tight the moneyis every month. Or that the house is too small or that your boss is annoying and doesn’t listen or support you. Or you complain about the wifi signal, or the weather, it’s too hot!
But hold on… Listen to what we just said with our big fat mouths (BIG MOUTH SLIDE)(not the title slide, just the mouth). How many of those things can you control? We don’t control the wifi, much less the weather, and yet we complain about them. In fact, the problem is not that there is nothing to watch on Netflix, or that the house is too small. The problem is that we’ve taken our eyes off of the goodness of God, and put them squarely on the center of ourselves. We have made all of our life about us, and it has messed us up! It has messed our heart up.
When I think about people complaining in the Bible, there is no better example of a group of complainers than the nation of Israel after God removed them from Slavery in Egypt. Remember, God did this through the 10 miraculous plagues that were used to change the heart of Pharaoh. Then God brought the Israelites out of captivity and when their back was against a wall of water, God parted the Red Sea so that they could walk across on dry ground and closed the sea behind them. He provided food every day for them, and clothes that would never wear out. And what did God’s people do? THEY COMPLAINED! THEY WHINED. Look at Exodus 14:11
11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 
This sounds like so many of us! UGH… I’d rather be dead right now than single. Or I’d rather be dead right now than stuck with this spouse. I’d rather be dead right now than stuck in this job. This is the attitude of the Israelites. And then when God provided for their food everyday, and they got tired of it, they stated to complain again. And Moses says something that should stop us in our tracks. He says,
Who were they complaining against? They were complaining against the Lord. Imagine if every time that we complain, it’s not just about our circumstances or about the traffic or about another person, but what if in God’s eyes, we were actually complaining about him? Perhaps that is the way he sees it. It’s almost as if we’re saying, “YOU DON’T EVER DO ANYTHING FOR ME!”
If we’re going to fix our Big Fat Mouth, and curb our complaining… one of the first things we need to do is Pt. 1 FOCUS on God.” It’s too easy to make everything about you and me! Look at what I’mnot getting… look at what everyone else has that Idon’t have. If Moses were here this morning I think he would want to remind us that we need to change our focus. What if we stopped focusing on everything we don’t have and started focusing on everything God has given me.
I was just talking with someone the other day about finances, and they were asking me about tithing to the church. They said, but does it matter if it’s only 100 bucks, what difference could that make? So I broke it down for them, I said, well, let me explain it this way. If you hold on to the 100 bucks, what are you going to do with it? SPEND IT, right? On myself. Well, tithing, giving it back to God gets the focus off of yourself, and onto other people. I went on to explain that $100 just about provides a room for one of our kids environments each weekend. So, rather than spending it on yourself, imagine what God could do through you 100 dollars when it’s applied to the cost of renting a room that we turn into a kids environment where we are pointing kids to Jesus!
One of the fastest ways to curb our complaining is by getting our focus off of our self and onto God. And yet, Satan, our spiritual enemy has made it so easy to stop focusing on God, and made it so tempting to focus on our self.
Truthfully, It would be so easy for me to make you feel guilty right now… We could show you pictures of 3rdworld countries, or the village in Guatemala that you all helped drill a clean water well in last year… My intention is not to make you feel guilty. You may feel guilty already… You know that you were complaining on your way in to church today. Ugh… there’s not coffee, or they didn’t sing my favorite song, or why doesn’t the pastor wear a suit and tie every week. Or why did He wear a jacket and tie last weekend. I don’t want you to feel guilty, I want to help you switch you focus.
Let me show you another text today… It’s written by the apostle Paul, and if there’s anyone who had the right to complain, it was certainly the apostle Paul. The number one desire of his heart was to go to Rome as a preacher. He knew if he could go to Rome and reach the leaders in Rome, that he could have a chance of impacting the whole world. Paul went to Rome, but insteadof going as a Preacher, Paul got there as a Prisoner. Not just any prisoner, he was locked up for about two years, locked 24 hours a day, chained to different Roman guards, awaiting his possible execution.
What would you say if you were Paul? I know what I would say… I’d be like God… COME ON, this isn’t fair! I’ve been serving you, and I’ve given my blood sweat and tears for you. I’ve been stoned, I’ve been bitten by a snake, I’ve been cold, I’ve been hungry, I’ve been laughed at, I’ve been mocked…. I’m stuck here in this filthy prison chained up to this guard that smells like B.O. THIS ISN’T FAIR! I’m the apostle Paul. Did you forget who I am?
But do you know what Paul says?
14Do everythingwithoutcomplainingor arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
That is a very high standard. Whatever you do, wherever you are, and whatever action or word you use, do everything without grumbling or complaining. There’s a lot of very spiritual reasons why we should live without complaining. There’s also a lot of practical reasons.
I heard a guy by the name of Dr. Travis Bradberry speak one time on this issue. He wrote a great book called “Emotional Intelligence 2.0(something like this image)”. He’s done a lot of research on the idea of complaining. What he says is that repeated complaining hard wires the brain to do, guess what? More complaining. In other words, the more negative you are, the more likely your brain is going to be triggered to continue to be negative.
He talks about what they call a confirmation bias. In other words, you expect something to be bad, therefore you get what you expect. I’m biased against something and my bias is self-confirming. You could say something like, I don’t like church because no one ever talks to you. You just show up and leave. And guess what, before you’ve even arrived, you already have it in your mind that you’re going to just show up and leave without talking to anyone.
Or you could say that all teenagers rebel. This is what they do. This is your preconceived idea and so when you kids starts to test the boundaries you throw your hands up in the air and say, I knew it! Every teenager is going to rebel. So there it goes.
This was the problem with the Israelites(THE BIG MOUTH SLIDE).They were negative when they were in captivity. They were negative when they were free because their negative mindset trained them to be even more negative and this is incredibly dangerous. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through life preconceived to find the bad, when there’s already enough bad in the world. I want to train my mind to find that which is good, that which is pleasant, and that which is helpful and hopeful, instead of always focusing on what’s negative. When you look at the apostle Paul, the way he lived and what he taught, would communicate these next two ideas. The first is this, PT. 2 “If you canchange… Change”It’s not a sin to notice something that’s not right. When it boils into sin might be when we complain and complain and complain about it and don’t ever do anything about it.
If there’s something that you dislike, something that gives you a righteous dissatisfaction, if there is a godly discomfort, if there’s something you look and say, “This isn’t right on behalf of God.” Don’t complain about it. Don’t just put comments on social media about it. Get out with your life and do something about it.
Let me ask you a question… “What have you done about what you’re complaining about?”
Marriage– My marriage is lifeless, sexless, and unenjoyable. Have you tried to breath life into it? Have you planned any romantic dates? Brushed your teeth in a while?
Kids– My kids are disrespectful. Have you pointed out their disrespect and shown them opportunities to grow and change?
Job– I hate my job… Have you looked for another one?
It’seasierto complain, than workfor change.
Then, by his teaching, he would say this, Pt. 3 “If you can’tchange… Adapt“If you can do something about it, do it. If you can’t change your circumstances, then change your perspective. Change what you say about it. Change how you think about it. Change what you see in those circumstances. Paul is so clear in Philippians 2:17-18. If you remember, he’s chained to a Roman soldier. He’s awaiting his very possible execution. His dream was to preach the gospel and he’s locked up in prison. This is what he says. He says,
Paul says, EVEN IF… I’ve been locked up, I’m stuck in prison. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can change my perspective. Even if this is all I’ve got left in my life, I’m glad, I’m going to rejoice. I’m going to fix my eyes on Jesus. I’m not going to complain about how rough I have it, or how hard my life is. I’m going to rejoice in it!
Paul further clarifies this idea by saying, Even if I’m poured out like a drink offering… Now, you and I don’t know much about drink offerings… It’s not like going to the bar and buying the next round on you. Even as generous as that is. This was a custom that took place during the Jewish worship. When they were sacrificing a bull, or a lamb, whatever animal it was, they would take their most expensive liquid… Whatever that was, usually an expensive bottle of wine, unless of course you were raised Baptist, and then it was really really good grape juice. They would take this wine and pour it out onto the animal sacrifice. You know what happens when you put a hot pan under water, or when you toss water into a fire… It instantly vaporizes… and the steam rises up, the smoke rises. This was the idea. They were offering the most expensive liquid so that in an instant some smoke would rise to the Lord.
Steam that would last just a few moments, and then vanish. This really expensive wine, being poured out for a momentary offering. Paul is saying, I’m okay if this is where it ends… If there is nothing else that comes of my life, I’m okay. My plans have been redirected by God’s perspective. “If you can’tchange…Adapt“
How could Paul be in prison, chained up to a Roman soldier, and offer praise and worship to God? Let me tell you how he could do it. Paul was not the center of his own story. Jesus was the center of his story, and because Jesus was the center of his story, that could take a negative circumstance and Paul could change his perspective about it in such a way that it would impact what God was able to do through this negative circumstance. This is why Paul said this, and don’t miss the power of what he says. Here he is chained up 24 hours a day, a different Roman guard every eight hours. Here’s a new one, over and over and over again. Here’s what Paul says. This is so powerful. He says,
He’s not complaining. He’s changed his perspective, and he’s seen the power and the goodness of God in it. What’s happened to me has actually moved the message of Jesus forward. He says,
What was he saying? He was saying, “You think that I’m the prisoner here? Let me tell you who the real prisoner is. Every eight hours, I get someone new. One of the most powerful people in all of Rome chained up to my arm for an eight-hour sermon that I write new for each and every one. You think I’m the prisoner here? You’ve got no idea how God is using what others would see as negative to advance the gospel.” In other words, this isn’t my plan. This isn’t what I would have chosen. There’s a lot of reasons why I would probably complain about this, but because I can’t change my circumstance, I am going to change my perspective. I know that my God works in all things to bring about good according to his purpose to those who love him and are called by his power.
I don’t know what EVEN IFsituation you are facing. Remember, if God woke you up this morning, and put breathe in your lungs, if you’ve got a pulse, you’ve got a purpose. God can be working through your situation, but in order to see it you may need to change your perspective.
I don’t know what your hardest situation is, but many a preacher has said, “When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something.” God may be up to something and He may be waiting for you to make a change. There may be something in your life that needs changing. Or there might be a perspective that needs to be changed.
King David was a man in the Old Testament who had a lot! He had a lot of problems, but He also had a lot going for him. And in a moment of clarity, he said this,
Some of you need today to switch your focus. You need to simply remember God’s goodness to you, His compassion for you, and His love for you. Some of you need to be reminded of God’s blessings in your life. All of the good things that God has given you. In fact, the healthiest thing for you today may simply be to go home and start making a list of the great things God has given you. Or anytime that you are tempted to complain to sit back and speak of the great things God has done for you.
In fact, this morning we want to help you do this practically… In a very real, and tangible way, we are going to remember the good things that God has done for us by taking communiontogether. Communion is not a ritual, it’s not a religious duty, in fact, here at Hope City, we don’t practice communion on the first Sunday of the month, or any regular date. We remember communion all throughout the year as a response to what God is teaching us rather than what Religion requires of us.
So this morning, I want to invite you to join me at the communion table today and remember God’s goodness and His grace in your life. That when Jesus hung on a cross, when His body was broken for you, when His blood was poured out for you that God was giving you the greatest blessing, the greatest gift you could ever receive. As you come to the communion table and grab one of these rice crackers, and dip it in the grape juice, remember what Jesus did for you.
Let’s celebrate communion together this morning.
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The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ex 16:8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Php 2:14–15). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Php 2:17–18). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Php 1:12). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Php 1:13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language(Ps 103:1–2). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.