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PRAISING GOD AND QUARRELING WITH HIM

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

21 MARCH 1993

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95:1-11
Mark 15:13-14
1 Corinthians 10:1-4

It might seem strange to combine the praising of God with the fact that we also quarrel with Him, but quite often we do this almost in the same breath.

Think of the way we are as a society.

We elect public officials, and then proceed to find fault with them; and quite often it's over just a single issue.

We do the same thing with our marriages.

God gave us a free will, and I suppose that this is just one way of expressing it, even though it is not the way God intended for us to do so.

Our free will was to be used to express love, and though praise is an aspect of love, quarreling is not.

But sometimes we don't praise in sincere love, any more than we would consider quarreling to be an expression of love.

We just make the noises of the expression of love, so that others will think we are sincere.

Psalm 95 expresses this thought. Let's listen to what the psalmist is expressing.

1. O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.

When we think of the name, Rock of our Salvation, we probably think of Jesus Christ.

And the people did sing and shout joyfully to the Lord as He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Yet, only a few days later the people shouted, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" (Mark 15:13-14).

13. And they shouted back, “Crucify Him!”

14. But Pilate was saying to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!”

Let's go back and listen to more of what the psalmist says (Psalm 95):

2. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;

Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

3. For the Lord is a great God,

And a great King above all gods,

4. In whose hand are the depths of the earth;

The peaks of the mountains are His also.

5. The sea is His, for it was He who made it;

And His hands formed the dry land.

All of this is true!

Then why don't we consistently recognize the truth and always praise the Lord?

Is it because we don't believe that God made everything, including us, and thus we find little to be thankful about?

We let the cares of the world and our personal cares come to the foreground, and then a strange thing happens: we blame God.

6. Come, let us worship and bow down;

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

7. For He is our God,

And we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.

If we would just recognize this fact, our lives would be a whole lot easier.

But we don't all recognize, and we don't all hear, as the psalmist reminds us:

Today, if you would hear His voice,

8. Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

As in the day of Massah in the wilderness;

9. "When your fathers tested Me,

They tried Me, though they had seen My work.

10. "For forty years I loathed that generation,

And said they are a people who err in their heart,

And they do not know My ways.

11. "Therefore I swore in My anger,

Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

The greatest error we have in our heart is hardness, or we could say, our lack of love: for God, for ourselves, and for our neighbors, which includes the animals.

Because of this hardness of heart, all the Israelites who quarreled with God died in the wilderness.

They did not enter the promised land.

They did not enter God's rest.

The promised land was an example of heaven, to show us what we, likewise, could lose.

Let's go back and look at what happened in the wilderness, as recorded in Exodus 17:1-7.

1. Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.

Now, we have to stop here for a minute and reflect upon the fact that these same Israelites had seen all the miracles God had performed in Egypt, and that He had been feeding them with manna.

So what did they do?

2. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?"

We must keep in mind that Moses is God's agent in the field, and that quarreling with Moses is the same as quarreling with God.

The people didn't hear what Moses answered.

3. But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?"

Not much faith. Not much trust. Not much remembering of what God can do.

And no love, and no praise, and no thanks giving.

4. So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, "What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me."

Can you feel Moses' frustration?

It is good if you can.

5. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.

6. "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

7. And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"

Did you notice that God stood upon the rock?

Listen to what Paul says about this rock and this period of time in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.

1. For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

2. and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3. and all ate the same spiritual food;

4. and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

Or we could say of the rock, the Messiah, their Rock of our Salvation, which the psalmist wrote about, that we would praise God and not harden our heart, as at Massah and Meribah.

So we have to ask ourselves the same question the Israelites asked, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"

And if our answer is, "No!" or "I don't know," or even "I'm not sure," then we are likely to quarrel with God and lose our blessing.

But if we answer with enthusiasm, "Absolutely, the Lord is among us!” then we will be continually praising Him, and all the glory of heaven and God is ours.

The choice is simple.

The choice is ours.

I pray we have chosen correctly.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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