Exodus 15:22-25 – Bitter Waters

Exodus 15:22-25
22
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

-While making the long journey between Egypt and the Promised Land, the thirsty Hebrew came upon a watering hole.  While usually a sight for sore eyes, in this case the waters were bitter and undrinkable.  This otherwise bad situation was made good by two things: 1) Moses cried out to the Lord, which is always a good start and 2) The Lord showed Moses a tree which, when cast into the bitter waters, made them sweet.  Not just drinkable, not just tolerable, but sweet as honey.  Notice that the tree does not soak up the bitter water like a sponge, the water is still there, but it is changed into something good, something profitable.  In our journeys we will often come upon waters that are too bitter to be swallowed.  But the Lord has another tree, fashioned into the shape of a cross, that when added to your circumstance will take away the bitter sting.  It won’t dry up your waters, they will still be there, but they will be changed into something profitable and sweet to the taste.

John 8:1-11 – Neither Do I Condemn Thee

John 8:1-11
1
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

-Caught in the very act; what is the actual “act” of adultery? Sex.  That means the Pharisees caught this woman in the midst of physical intimacy and drug her out to Jesus. What clothing do you think she had time to grab on the way out? Probably not much. So here is a half-naked woman being carried down the street. Where did they take her? To the feet of Jesus, obviously, but look again at verse 2; the Pharisees plopped her down right in the middle of Jesus’ Bible Study class!

They certainly thought they had a winner this time; they could trap Jesus and then get rid of the girl. Think about it, if Jesus agreed with the Pharisees, then all His teachings on mercy and second chances would be null and void; but if He disagrees, they would have cause to label Him a lawbreaker and a heretic. They found themselves ill-prepared, however, for the force of the Lord’s response; not that he stood up screaming or came out swinging, but the fact that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The words that Jesus spoke cut right through the hatred and self-righteousness of the Pharisees and left behind shame and conviction; so much so that they could no longer bear to be in the presence of God’s Lamb or the poor sinner to whom He had extended mercy.

And what of this poor sinner? As ashamed and humiliated as she must have been, consider the indescribable service that the Pharisees did for her that day; they plucked her out of her sin and brought her straight to Jesus, straight to mercy, straight to freedom. What does this mean for us? Two things: 1) God can save us from our ugliest sins even while we are in the very act. 2) If the Lord can use the rotten lives of the Pharisees to work salvation in the lives of a sinner, imagine what He can do with someone who willingly yields their life to His service.

Philippians 2:14-15 – Blameless and Harmless

Philippians 2:14-15
14
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Verse 14 is a mouthful; it can be difficult enough to simply do all things sometimes, much less doing all those things without complaint or contention.  But consider the reasons given in verse 15:  To be blameless shows that a bad attitude will reflect poorly on both us and God, because if a Christian can’t take bad circumstances in stride, what does that say about the depth of our God and our Salvation?  The second qualifier is just as important- harmless.  We are under constant observation by those around us and the things we say and do have a profound impact whether we want to admit it or not.  Your behavior could be teaching a young person that it’s okay to be a dimly lit Christian or it could be giving an unbeliever evidence that there is nothing really special about serving the Lord.  The Bible warns us not to be a stumbling block (Romans 10:32), so if you’re struggling to fulfill Philippians 2:14, do it for the sake of all those you might trip up along the way.

Genesis 18:10-14 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Genesis 18:10-14
10
And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

-With a gentle rebuke, the Lord reminds Sarah that it is unwise to judge God by human standards.  Having a child becomes a physiological impossibility at a certain point in life, even by today’s medical standards.  Based on that, it would have been easy for any of us to reach the same conclusion as Sarah; laughing at the absurdity.  But then God asks the question that we must always remember- “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  Even if we can’t do it, God still can; even if we don’t understand it, God does understand it.  It doesn’t matter what “it” may be in your life.  Can God?  God can!

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 – We Preach Christ

1 Corinthians 1:23-24
23
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

-What separates true Christianity from every other “religion” in history (aside from Christianity being real) is that all religion is built upon rules and ceremony.  Rituals that must be kept, elaborate proceedings and steps that keep everything moving along.  Our faith requires none of that.  Christianity is not about a service, it is not about a building, and it is not about legalities.  Christianity is all about Jesus Christ- a man who was also God.  He is the start and end of our religion; “the author and finisher of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:2)  The more you can learn about God’s Word and His plan for the Universe, the better off you’ll be; but if you don’t know anything else, just know Jesus- and that will be enough.

Matthew 1:21 – He Shall Save

Matthew 1:21
21
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Hebrews 7:22
22
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Hebrews 8:6
6
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

-Did you know that the word “Sin” occurs 336 times in the Old Testament and only 112 in the New Testament?  “Hate” is mentioned 71 times in the Old Testament and only 16 times in the New Testament while the word “Remember” occurs 121 times in the Old Testament and only 27 times in the New Testament.  What could account for the difference between the two?  There is another word that is mentioned 983 times in the New Testament but never spoken in the Old; that word is “Jesus” and just as the Angel declared to Mary, the Lord was so named because He would save His people from their sin, their hate, and from their awful remembrance of having carried both.

Mark 5:2-9 – Legion

Mark 5:2-9
2
And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

-The name Legion given by the demons here is one with which Jesus would have been very familiar; a Legion is a Roman military unit that was comprised of about 5,000 soldiers.  This is telling for two reasons:  1) Obviously, it tells us that a great number of demons had possessed this man and 2) It tells us how seriously Satan’s agents take their roles on Earth.  The powers of darkness do not just sit around idly and make casual suggestions; rather, they will fight to gain ground in our lives just like we would expect any army to fight.  As such, we should not expect opposing them to be easy, but rather we must be willing to fight just as hard as they do.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

John 15:18-21 – The World Hates God

John 15:18-21
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

-G.K. Chesterton once said, “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”  Although this is from 1928, how much more true this is in the present day.  How can it be that the truth of the Christian doctrine is so marginalized in our society?  How can the only real light be so lightly esteemed?  The answer is really quite simple:  to face the Lord God means to face the ugly truth of our own sin and imperfection; to face Him means to acknowledge that we are not the be all and end all in our world or even our own lives.  Since mankind is too prideful to face such truths, it instead rebels against them and seeks to bury them.  The fact that God and the Bible are real is the very reason that they incite such a strong reaction in our culture; every man’s flesh secretly hates the Lord.  That hatred may be disguised behind ideas such as “political correctness” or even “atheism”, but the truth is that the world hates God and always has.

Ephesians 2:19-20 – The First Stone

Ephesians 2:19-20
19
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

-A cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation.  It is important to understand that Jesus is not just a stone that God added later as a remedy to the sin problem.  He is in fact the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 1:18) Jesus is God and has been God forever.  He “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:20)

Romans 8:28 – His Purpose

Romans 8:28
28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

-A very encouraging verse of scripture and one that is often relied upon when a situation looks grim.  It seems, however, that we tend to get too focused on the wrong part of the verse.  While it’s important to be reminded that God will make sure things turn out well; it is more needful to realize for whom He makes those things turn out well- those who love Him and are “called according to His purpose”.  Our first duty in any situation is not to look for the light at the end of the tunnel; rather, it is to make certain that we are in the center of God’s perfect will.