Friday, August 10, 2012

“Grace in the Face of Grumbling” (Exodus 16:6-8)

S-1331 10SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #374; (S) #57 SOD; (C) #50

Text: Exodus 16:2-15; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

Theme: Grace in the Face of Grumbling” (Exodus 16:6-8)

Question: “Do you grumble?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?’ And Moses said, ‘When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against Him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord’” (Ex. 16:6-8).

O you who are sought after and cherished by the Father of all love. When we think of “grace”, we often think of these words: God’s richest at Christ’s expense. Or we might think of getting what we don’t deserve. When we think of “grumbling” we think of complaining, griping, murmuring and whining. You have heard your share—it is too hot, it is too cold. Last year we got too much rain, this year we have gotten none.

Though we are the most indulged society in the world, yet, we are the most discontent society in the world. It appears that the more people have the more they seem to be discontent with what they have and the more complaining they seem to be. Complaining is a big part of our broken world. PAUSE.

In this country we have many lovely parks. In one park which contained several trails, park rangers decided to put out comment cards. The officials were looking for feedback regarding the walking paths. Here are some of the comments which were actually written by hikers:

1. “Make the trails wider so we can hold hands while walking.”

2. “Trails have too many bugs, spiders; and leeches; spray to get rid of them.”

3. “Pave the trails so they can be snow plowed in the winter.”

4. “Install chair lifts so we don’t have to hike.” Would you believe the next one?

5. “Installing a McDonalds at the end of the trail would be nice.”

Grumbling is nothing new. It has been around ever since the fall of man into sin. And today, we hear the Israelites grumbling against Pastor Moses. He has done everything right, obeyed God’s Word, delivered them out of slavery and passed them through the Red Sea. But once they crossed over, the grumbling was loud and clear. “We wished we hadn’t come here, we don’t like this food, this heat, it would have been better if we died in Egypt rather than in this wilderness etc. etc.”

The heart of man is never satisfied. We grumble never realizing how much more energy it takes, how difficult it is on the heart, the head, and the soul. We complain about anything and everything. So did the Israelites. And Pastor Moses, informed them with the words of our text saying: At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us? You are not grumbling against us, but against God.

Our loving God, rather than punish the grumblers promises to give them grace upon grace. Moses is very emphatic here, “you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.” Indeed God’s glory was revealed by providing them bread from heaven, which they are to gather daily as much as they need. The people were so amazed when they woke the next morning and saw the white film on the ground and said, (Manna!) what is this? He satisfied their hunger and quenched their thirst. This is the God who does mighty wonders among us. This is the God who gives us what we don’t deserve. PAUSE.

To know the Father, to believe in Jesus, this is His gift to you. What a heart, what grace! This is His gift to the blind, deaf, dumb, dead world. What grace, what love! When you feel like grumbling, know this, beloved, He not only hears you and will not abandon you. Your sinful selfishness does not disqualify you from His grace. It confirms that grace is truly grace and gracious. It is this love of the Father, given in and through the Son who never once grumbled. He alone perfectly believed in Romans 8:28, by the Spirit’s power that does indeed draw all men unto Himself - this through the Cross (John 12:32). This is He whom the Father sent—the Bread which comes down from heaven (John 6). This is why the Father sent the Son: That sinners like you and like me would know God as gracious, merciful, patient, forgiving and that we would know peace and live with Him in peace.

Grace in the face of grumbling is getting what we don’t deserve. Want is met, thirst is satisfied! If there is anything that marks our God it is that He knows our “pining.” He knows our need and in His Amazing Grace He not only meets that need, but exceeds it. He meets our need for light not only by the sun in the Sky but giving us His One and Only Son to be the Light of the World. He not only calms our fears He grants us the faith to trust that He has overcome EVERY enemy. He not only gives us this life with its years and decades, He gives us a life that lasts forever in Christ! When you hunger and thirst for His righteousness, know this beloved - He is here - you are satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

In the Gospel reading for this morning, we see this grace that came down from heaven. John put it this way: For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus came down from heaven. He is with us and He gives (present tense) - He continually feeds, continually, fully, always, every day and for more than 40 years - through your whole life, He gives His life to the world. This we celebrate with the once-for-all time gift of the cross - His broken body and shed blood, given then, and with continual blessing, continual giving, that like the manna from heaven, kept the Children of God as they wandered those 40 years.

He feeds you with Manna (What is it?!). Through the human hands of your pastor and your elders, even as He speaks His absolution for your sins through your pastor’s voice. If the incarnation means anything, it is that He does not love you by remote control. He knows your sin, and... He knows how to restore, refresh, and renew you. He hears your grumbles and answers more richly than we either can ask or deserve.

Yes, we don’t deserve God’s grace or goodness. We all grumble—I mean ALL. We are not content with what we have in life. We complain about everything. And God wasn’t content either. That is why He sent His Son—the Bread that came down from heaven. The Son without grumbling and complaining did what you, I and the Israelites couldn’t do—He went to the cross without opening His mouth. As Isaiah tells us: “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (53:7). Indeed God’s Son didn’t open His mouth to complain about being crucified. He opened His mouth to give grace to the burdened, the battered and beaten by Satan. He gave us Grace upon grace from His sweet lips when He forgave our sins.

God’s grace was and is being poured upon us today so that you may believe in Him whom He sent. Because of the grace that came down from heaven, you can indeed rejoice - for even that joy is rooted and grounded in Christ. Grumbling is met by Amazing Grace. Your work is His gift, and He is using that gracious believing to touch the dead world out there, and to encourage the family of faith here. Take Jesus’ final words and promise with you into this new week: “I Am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst”. Now that is grace in the face of grumbling, Amen!

Now the peace of God…


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