(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, 2/28/97)
I will like to read from 1Cor.10, and talk about murmuring. "Moreover brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness." (1Cor.10:1-5). "Now these things were our examples to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." (1Cor.10:6-12).
This murmuring is what I want to address today. It's very easy for believers to get into a state of murmuring.
What is murmuring? Murmuring is complaint of dis-satisfaction. Actually "a mumbled complaint" is what a dictionary call it. If you look around you in your congregation, and you are dis-satisfied with what is going on, it could cause you to murmur at the organization or at the pastoring of the congregation.
When we look at the Hebrews in the wilderness, they were dissatisfied with what happened between Moses and some leaders of the tribes when the fire of God destroyed Abiram and his company. (Numbers 16). "But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord." (Num.16:41). In short, it meant they were not satisfied with the way God handled the case. Did they think they were murmuring against Moses and Aaron? From the story, it was God who sent the fire and who claved the ground under the rebels. Then the murmuring was against God. Similarly, if a preacher or prophet spoke against the lifestyle or some sins in the congregation, under the unction of the Holy Ghost, there is danger for any member of the congregation who critizes or murmurs against the preacher. You are actually murmuring against God, if God has sent the word. Are we serving the same God whom Moses served? Consider Acts of the apostle chapter 5, when Ananias and Sapphira were taken away for lying to the church. Are we serving the same God? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever." Ofcourse the Lord is not destroying the sinners yet for their sins. Has the situation of the church been degraded to the state of sinners in the world?
When folks murmur, they sometimes would not say it to the leader involved. They may say it to one another, or they may say it in their hearts. But God sees the heart too. We have to look at our lives and check: what can easily cause murmuring? Especially when believers have prayed for something for a while, and it doesn't seem to happen. The devil can even amplify the discontentment with the Answerer of prayers in the mind of the believers. It may be in the form of feeling bad about the prayer which has not been answered. For example if there is a case of a believer who is afflicted with a terminal disease, and the saints have prayed and interceeded for days, and the afflicted person finally pass away. Ofcourse congregations who don't believe in miracles have nothing to murmur about. We, who knows that God is still a miracle working God, must have a proper attitude if in some cases we seemed to have been disappointed. Murmur not!
We should remember the situation in Joppa concerning Tabitha, or Dorcas, who died. The believers must have prayed for days while she was sick and yet she died. (Acts 9:36-42).
They never gave up on hope. When they heard that apostle Peter was in a city nearby, they sent for Peter who finally prayed and brought back Dorcas. Perhaps what the body of Christ lacks are men like Peter, or Paul, upon whom the Lord has invested much anointing. However we must not murmur at the Lord as if we are disappointed.
If you are angry because a prayer is not answered, you should ask yourself: "whom am I angry at?" "Am I angry at myself? am I angry at God? or, am I angry at the devil?" This is the quick way to keep your anger in check. Otherwise, before you know it, the devil may begin to work on your mind and you will not realize that you are now directing your anger at God. Murmuring is usually caused when people are angry at the situation which is occuring or angry at something or somebody's handling of a situation.
The hebrews in the wilderness were dissatisfied with how Abiram and his company of agitators died, and it was called murmuring against Moses. In our generation, an unanswered prayer can easily cause dissatisfaction. I have met back-slidden Christians who confessed that they slided backward because of some expectations which were not met either by God, or by the church. For example, a lady stopped going to church because her church failed to successfully intervene when her marriage was breaking apart. She was no more ready to listen to the gospel until that part of her life has settled down, perhaps if married again to another man.
We should know the person with whom to be dissatisfied. It's not God! But the devil will like us to think God has not done enough to save our situation, or God has not stretched forth his mighty power to rescue us from the situation. The devil wants us to get angry at the Lord. But those that know their God will not charge God foolishly. Let's learn from the afflictions of Job. The devil tried every way to cause Job to curse God. The devil even made Job's wife give the suggestion: "Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." (Job 2:9-10).
To vent our anger, we should ask ourselves: who is really causing this evil? it's the devil! Let God be justified. God has given us all that we need really. He has given us his power, his word, his name. He has given us the weapons we need. Do we expect him to do more than that? God has rules which He himself follows. He has given us every weapon we need against the devil. Now if we try all the weapons and the devil will still not give up, we should really be angry at the devil and not at God. That is how I always set my mind. God has said the devil should be under my feet. If the devil refused to bow after using all the weapons I know, I shouldn't be angry at God. I should be angry at this wicked devil. You may say, what can we do against the devil? I can continue to bind the devil or curse the devil or continue to smite the devil with words. God has given us all we need to fight the enemy.
I remember the time I was hoping the Lord will make me go out to do something for the gospel sake. The Lord came in a vision one morning and said in effect "I have done this and that; are you still expecting me to do the other one". From that day, I realized I should go ahead and use what he has given and do something in ministering in the gospel field. Ofcourse sometimes we feel we just don't have what we need to get the job done. But it may be we just don't know how to use what we do have.
Similarly, we may pray for something for a long time and we do not receive it, and it seems God failed us; God has not failed us; We can say "we failed". Yes, we may fail, but God did not fail. It's like having a little child who is afraid of a bully in the street, and you give your child a sword, and every weapon he needs to fight the bully. If the bully is still able to disarm the child and knock your child down to the ground, the child shouldn't get angry at his daddy saying "daddy, you didn't give me every thing I need to defeat this bully". The daddy will say "Son, I have given you everything you need to defeat the bully. The only problem is the child needs to grow up in order to know how to use some of those weapons." Build up yourself. If we need muscle, we must build it up by ourselves.
A friend of mine whose son was playing tennis commented to me one day that he told his son to get in shape and train himself to be fit in order to improve his tennis game level. That is right. All the father can do for the boy is pay for a coach, pay for the tools and so on. It is still the boys responsibility to lift weight or jog around or do anything to keep himself fit and in shape for the tennis career.
If the devil is raging, and we could not arrest the situation, we should get holy anger at the devil. It is the devil we should vent our anger upon, and not at God. Don't think God didn't do this for you. Get enough holy anger in you, to make you prepare more to be offensive against the devil who has refused to obey you. Fast more if you have to! Pray more if you have to! Sing and worship God more if you have to, to get the anointing you need. As the Lord Jesus said "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." If that is what it takes, I want to do some more fasting and praying. Then you are directing your holy anger in the proper direction.
God has not failed us. Don't murmur at God. We should be dissatisfied at the devil which refused to bow. The word said we shall tread upon serpents and upon scorpions. If you have even physical scorpions on the floor, and you try to step on them, and they lift up their fang to bite you, are you going to cry at God and say why didn't you stop them? We are to exercise our authority and claim our dominion: "I say get your head down! That's what God said." There is rebellion also in every devil to want to disobey. We must flex our muscle at them, and then they will obey.
I remember one time Satan tried to attack me. He came in a vision like a man. As he came near, I stood against him, with a rod in my hand saying "the word of the living God must be obeyed Satan." The devil stopped. He stopped for a while. An angel has not appeared yet, neither has God manifested. I just stood my ground and said, "Satan, the word of the living God must be obeyed", meaning he ought not to attack the servant of God: "Touch not mine anointed; do my prophets no harm." Satan just turned back and left. You should realize now that it is "we" that has to tell the devil what the word of God says. He knows it, but will rebel, unless we remind him of it. Let's remember that.
The text says, "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1Cor.10:10-13).
And, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Especially when persecution shall come into the land against the true believers, some of us
who never expect God to deliver us because they don't believe in miracles, they may simply accept their fate "to suffer for his name". But some of us who believe that our God is a miracle working God, and can save out of the mouth of the lion as he delivered Daniel, we should still never be disappointed if he does not deliver. Like the saints prayed for Peter's deliverance from Herod's prison. If God did not perform the miracle to free Peter in that night, should the saints be disappointed at the Lord, knowing that we are called to suffer for his sake? We should never be disappointed. We should vent our anger at the devil. We should tell the devil that he is trespassing. Never murmur at God if things do not go the way you expect it. The fight is against the devil who refused to bow to our command.
Why does the devil refuse to bow? Sometime, the devil is simply holding on long. In my testimony above, when I spoke once, the devil stopped. He has not turned back yet. When I repeated my statement the second time, that "the word of the living God must be obeyed, Satan", then he turned back and left. Suppose when he stopped, I stopped addressing him, he would have not turned back. That is the point. "At the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established." In short, it means you must resist the devil stedfastly.
Sometime also, the devil will go and try to come again. Dogs do that often. If someone does not hold his ground and say "Do not come back", they play that trick. We need the discerning of the spirit to know when the victory is fully won. When devils play a trick, by going away and immediately returning, many believers would let the thought come into their mind that "I thought I won, I didn't win." By agreeing with the thought which says "I thought I won, I didn't win", they have doubted. They have actually won; they only need to say it one more time for the devil to leave for good. We should never give up on prayer. Hang in there until the victory is won.
May the Lord give all of us the grace to grow spiritually and overcome the enemy, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry