Bitter Water Made Sweet

Bitter Water Made Sweet

Daily Reading

22 Then Moses led Israel on from the Red Sea, and they went out to the Wilderness of

Shur. They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water. 23 They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter—that is why it was named Marah. 24 The people grumbled to Moses, “What are we going to drink?” 25 So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he threw it into the water, the water became drinkable.

The Lord made a statute and ordinance for them at Marah, and he tested them there. 26 He said, “If you will carefully obey the Lord your God, do what is right in his sight, pay attention to his commands, and keep all his statutes, I will not inflict any illnesses on you that I inflicted on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy date palms, and they camped there by the water.

sky sand blue desert

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Daily Reflection

Obedience during trials is the key to God’s blessing.

Sun-baked skin ached. The tongues of the Israelites cleaved to the roof of their mouths. Three days passed but there was no refilling of their wineskins. Where was this Moses – the “man of God” – leading them? At least the taskmasters in Egypt gave them water when they labored in the heat of the day. But this Moses, and his unseen God, marched them without refreshment. Murmurs rippled.

Then on the horizon… could it be? Was it a mirage? Excitement overtook some as they ran for the seeming lifespring but with one large gulp, it was bitter. One Hebrew shouts in disgust, “Marah!” The low murmur morphs into a borderline mutiny. What was God up to?!?

Much like the Israelites,  you will experience the sour taste of disappointment. When following God, your taste buds will revolt and want to reject the source of your spiritual refreshing. However, it is how you handle these periods of testing that will determine your level of blessing.

We, like Moses, must seek God’s direction during the seasons of bitter testing. After praying, God directed Moses to cast a tree in the salty waters. This tree sapped the salinity away. The pool, that if consumed would produce death, now provided life! The Lord issued a statute and ordinance that day that if His people would obey they would experience His abundant blessing.

You may not be in a physical desert, but if your soul is dry, there is fresh water for you. Moses sweetened the waters of Marah by hurling a tree in its midst. You too can freshen the saltiness of life with a tree. In your trials, focus on the cross of Christ, for from it flows living water. Knowing that God loved us enough to endure the embarrassment and the torture of Golgotha should refresh your weary soul.

In your trial, pray to God for grace and guidance. For obedience is the key to experiencing God’s abundant blessing. Do not fall into rebellion, but rather submit to the trial with joy. God has not forsaken you. Look to the cross, and you will witness His love again.

closed eyed man holding his face using both of his hands

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, like Moses at Marah, allow me to pray for guidance and surrender to your will. Give me the grace to not lose sight of the tree that gives me life. In Jesus name, Amen.


In the Word Together is a daily devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims in aiding parents in family devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff

5 Feats of Christ’s Death

5 Feats of Christ’s Death

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“Hosanna in the Highest!” echoed the crowd.

Some cast coats to pave the way for the miracle-worker. Others laid freshly cut palm branches to be tread on by the donkey that carried the healer named Jesus.

A “Who is this?” rippled through Jerusalem that day. Anticipation filled the air. What was happening? The entrance into Jerusalem was the beginning of the climax of the story of redemption. Jesus of Nazareth faced the Father’s will in obedience. His journey into the city would bring Him closer to fulfilling his destiny. He would give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Holy Week serves a reminder of the pain in Christ’s passion. It is a reminder of the Gospel’s cost. It is a cue to consider the cross. We need reminders. For the enemy is a thief and will strive to make us forget the price of the Good News. We must remember the gospel and its price.

Have you ever considered the death of the Christ? Have you pondered the cross? Christ died. Christ died for us! The following is five feats Christ’s death accomplished for us.

  1. It removes our sin.

Christ’s death removed our sin. John the Evangelist writes, “The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (NASB John 1:29). The removal of sin by Christ’s death is called expiation. Christ’s death removes our sin and guilt before God. The author of Hebrews writes, “…He [Jesus] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (NASB Heb 9:26b).

In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices covered the sins of the people. Moses writes, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (NASB Lev 17:11). The Hebrew word for “atonement” is kaphar, which means to cover. The author of Hebrews says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (NASB Heb 10:4). However, Christ’s blood removes our sin!

Think about that! If you receive Christ’s atoning work, your sin has been removed! Also, Christ’s righteousness has been imputed or transferred to you! (see 2 Cor 5:21)

  1. It removes God’s wrath from us.

God is holy. Therefore, sin incurs the wrath of  God. Jesus took this wrath on Himself. In Romans, Paul writes,

“24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (NASB Rom 3:24-26)

Propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath from us. Hebrews states, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (NASB Heb 2:17). Propitiation also has an element of satisfaction. The wrath of God is satisfied with the death of Christ. Finally, John writes, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Can God’s wrath be on a world which He loves? Absolutely. For those who are parents, this idea is not too far from our imagination. We love our kids but sometimes they face our wrath, right?

  1. It removes our alienation from God.

Sinners are separated from God, but Christ’s death removes our alienation from God. Paul writes,

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (NASB Rom 5:10-11)

The death of Jesus reconciles is to God! We are no longer his enemy. We are his children. We call Him, Abba (Rom 8:15)!

  1. It removes the curse of the Law.

The Law held us hostage but we are free in Christ. Paul writes,

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (NASB Gal 3:13-14).

In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Israel, which’s stipulations are codified in the Ten Commandments. In Deuteronomy 28, God rehearsed the blessings if Israel could keep His commands and the curses if they failed to obey. Israel failed, but Christ succeed in obedience. Those in Him, receive the blessings of redemption! It is the precious blood of Christ that ransoms us (1 Pet 1:18-19).

  1. It removed the powers of Hell

In death, Christ defeated Satan and the forces of hell. Paul writes,

13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (NASB Col 2:13-15)

There is not a devil in hell that has a tooth left! He may roar but Satan is defanged and dethrone! (1 Pet 5:8). Christ openly defeated death, hell, and the grave.

 

When Christ died, these five feats were accomplished!

Christ died. He was buried. BUT, He didn’t stay there! This is the Gospel. We must remember the gospel is the all-important message by which God will judge all men. John writes, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (NASB John 3:36)

If you have not received this message, the bad news is that:

  1. You are still in your sins.
  2. The wrath of God abides on You.
  3. You’re alienated from God.
  4. You are under the curse of the Law.
  5. The devil still controls you.

However, the Good News is “for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (NASB Rom 10:13)

Have you considered Christ’s cross? Have you called on his name? If not, why are you waiting?

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A Good Friday Reflection

A Good Friday Reflection

Over two thousand years ago, You faced the horrors of the cross. The cruel tortures of that wicked tree reveal the severity of sin, my sin. You cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me!” It was through this forsakenness that we experience the embrace of Abba’s arms. Restored. Restless and rebellious subjects reconciled to a Regal King.

Wrecked with agonizing pain so that others could experience peace. By the crimson flow of Calvary, the filthy stains of sin wash away from our souls. Incarnate Deity dying removing sin’s strong hand. Worthy is the Lamb slain over two millennia ago! Praise ushers forth from grateful hearts on this most wondrous Good Friday for we know the rest of the story!


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