Day Six
Pastor Randal Alquist
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Do you remember Sesame Street? Grover, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Elmo. The characters of this magical street were family; the shop owners and friendly neighbors knew each other by name and collectively cared and supported each other. They made time to sit on a stoop and sing a song of encouragement. And then there was the Grouch, the stinky, filthy, and always downtrodden guy who wanted everyone within his reach to be drawn into his garbage can reality. People loved him; they tried to share their laughter and joy, inviting him into the privilege of this amazing community that they shared. But, instead, he sulked around and chose to grumble. How many of us know a character like the Grouch in our life? Be careful if you can’t think of anybody; it may be you, lol. The thing about grumblers is that they are neither persuasive nor appealing when they share their faith. In fact, they rarely share their faith at all. It’s hard to joyfully and consistently proclaim the gospel when all you do is complain about the people you are meant to love. Murmuring does not further God’s mission.

The root issue, of course, is a lack of faith (Psalm 78:19–20). Whenever we look at the state of the world and wag our fingers, shake our heads, or wish that we had been born in another time or place, we question God’s sovereignty and resent the task he has given us. If you want an example, just pull up your social media feed or flip on the news. It isn’t limited to “the World” either. If our brothers and sisters in Christ would stop criticizing and accusing Christian leaders and Pastors and live more like the thousands of missionaries who lay down their lives daily for the gospel, we would be far better off. Grumbling over the good that we think God has withheld is, in reality, our inability to believe in the promises of God.

Faithfulness starts with gratitude. We trust in God, who knows where we are and when we are. This is our time! Holding firm to the word of life is a thrilling adventure. We’re not digging in, like disgruntled miners who resent societal shifts or cultural changes. No, we’re standing, with the smile of faith that knows God is good and sovereign and that his everlasting Joy will spread to all people when we trust in Him and Him only. Let yourself unplug from the negativity and stop being impressed with evil. We have been given the Holy Spirit to alter the course of history through love, signs, and wonders, driven by compassion and empathy. Have we instead become a clanging gong announcing impending doom or instead purveyors of Heavenly Realities believing for the impossible through the love and power of our Father. Choose joy and love, hope and peace and let God shine through you today despite the circumstances; he is bigger than our circumstances!

PRAYER: God, take my thoughts captive that I might shine with your love and power in a dark world. Focus my affection towards all of your good and grace and away from negativity and hopelessness that I may dwell in your perfect Joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.