“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God” (Isaiah 43:2).
We want people making promises to us that we can count on. I want to believe the vows that Anita made to me when we were married 38 years ago. I want to believe the contract our banker signed when we refinanced our house. I want to believe the prayers of commitment that people have made to the Lord. And I want to believe the promises God has given me in His Word.
But, sometimes the pressure Satan brings into my life, into the church, into the economy, into the moral world around us get us sidetracked. We begin to doubt, and that erodes our confidence. God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Its the world that keeps changing. So, I have to remind myself of the promises God has given to His people and hold them close like that wedding ring. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the promise. Reread the above promise and remember this is how God feels about you as His child.
Charlotte Elliott wrote a well known hymn long ago. In that hymn she penned:
“Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”
When a sinner comes to Christ, we must come just as we are, with all our faults weaknesses and sins. We lay it all down on the altar and surrender all. That’s the only way to come to Christ in His fullness.
But that’s the end of “Just as I Am”. We set our sins aside and walk in His righteousness from that point on. From then on its all about ‘Just As I Am in Christ’. I no longer approach my God as a sinner; I approach Him as a child, with bold confidence and deep assurance. In Christ, I already have all the promises of God. I just have to believe His promises.
Tags: grace, righteousness
“And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Exodus 15:25).
Israel was troubled at God’s apparent lack of provision. They had seen God miraculously provide for them by parting the Red Sea. Now, three days later, they were doubting His provision when they were led to a water supply that was too bitter to drink. So, they blamed Moses for their thirst. Moses called out to God, and the Lord showed Moses a plan. He pointed out a specific tree and instructed Moses to cast it into the bitter waters. When Moses did so, the bitter waters became sweet and satisfied everyone’s thirst.
This Bible story is not part of some mystical hocus-pocus tradition, but God was teaching Israel (and us) an important spiritual lesson that can lead to breakthroughs in our lives. Bitter waters represent bitter, not-so-pleasant experiences we have on our wilderness journey. As people of faith, its hard to drink the bitter waters of our experiences. Where is God when we need Him? The tree, of course, speaks of the cross of Christ. When the tree is immersed in our bitter experiences, they become sweet instead of bitter. The Cross is the antidote for the bitterness in life.
Something good will come out of something bad when it meets the cross. But the test of our faith is what we do with the bitterness. Will we carry it around and stay mad at everyone, or will we put it on the cross and let God transform our bitter into better? You’ll probably have an opportunity to pass or fail that test today.
And one last thought, we also learn a pattern for our survival. Once God shows us a path, we’ve got to take God at His word. We must act. Throwing the tree into the waters made no rational sense, but it worked!
“And the people murmured against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?‘” (Exodus 15:24).
Sometimes when we become insecure we do things we later regret. The Israelites were just beginning the journey into the wilderness and their nerves were frayed. They had gone 3 days into the wilderness with no water. When they finally discovered water, it was too bitter to drink. They had wives and children they were responsible for, as well as livestock. Water was crucial. And their hope was now dashed. When our hope is tested, we can begin to whine and gripe.
And, its human nature to personalize our problem. We tend to want to place blame rather than look for the problem to solve. So, they blamed Moses. Our present verse said the people “murmured against Moses“. It was God they were mad at, but how can anyone be upset with God? God was the One leading them by the Pillar of Fire and Cloud. Day and night He led them. The miracle of the Shekinah Glory was continually visible and clearly leading the way…straight to the bitter waters of Marah.
So they blamed the shepherd. They took the humanistic view. Moses was in a tough spot. He was as insecure and filled with doubt as the people. He was as thirsty as they were. He really didn’t want to be in this position. He told God he didn’t want to do this; but God said three times, “Go” (Exodus 3:16; 4:12; and 4:19).
God wanted to bring them all to the point of faith, not just Moses. God was stretching the faith of them all. And he was using bitter experiences to do it.
Don’t rely on someone else’s faith. Release your own faith and watch what God will do with your bitter waters.
“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” (Genesis 15:23). The Israelites were walking by faith as they wandered across the wilderness. They didn’t know where they were ultimately going. They had no sense of security at all. They didn’t know where basic provisions like food or water were coming from. They must have been a little on edge.
Directly in the path the Lord was leading them down was this body of water they called Marah. They needed water badly and here was plenty, but it was too bitter to drink. Why would God pull this prank on them? Didn’t God know the reaction the people would have? They had been traveling three days without finding water (v. 22).
Sound a little like your wilderness? God appears to solve the problem, but another problem arises immediately. Its like there is no rest for the weary; when it rains it pours. And the Israelites appropriately called the place Marah, which is Hebrew for ‘Bitter’. Our experience in the wilderness can be called Bitter and can cause bitterness. So many have allowed bitterness to creep into their hearts because they didn’t get their way. So many have turned away from the wilderness journey which leads to the Promised Land, and never arrive at the goal.
There will be plenty of bitterness along your journey, but don’t buy into it. Bitter experiences make us better if we hang onto God through them. How you deal with your bitterness today determines where you will be tomorrow.
Whenever we try to be formal, we associate that with perfect. But, no matter how much we try to be perfect at formal events, none of us are perfect. Weddings are prime examples. Most of what happens at a wedding is practiced the night of the rehearsal and everyone knows what is coming next. But, there are always a few things that we don’t practice at rehearsal. The flower girl dropping the flower petals is one of those unrehearsed things that can mess up the “perfection” of a formal wedding.
I performed a wedding a while back where the flower girl was just the right age. The young lady looked like a princess as she walked down the aisle perfectly, was dressed perfectly, and had real perfect flower petals in her real basket. The ushers had flawlessly unrolled the white runner (another act that can go horribly wrong) and all the wedding party walked that aisle with precision.
But as she elegantly proceeded, she threw those flowers like she was pitching a softball! Instead of dropping gracefully on the white carpet before the ensuing bride, the colorful petals went high in the air and all directions. Everyone smiled and most chuckled or laughed out loud. The perfect ice-breaker for a tense situation.
Tags: humor, wedding
“There he [Jacob] built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother” (Genesis 35:7).
Jacob’s journey began at Bethel, and now God brought him right back to his starting place. The lesson is, whenever we wander off course, we’ve got to go back to where we went astray and start over.
A second lesson we learn from this verse is that God met with him when he was in trouble. Its my observation that even if God did meet with us, we wouldn’t recognize Him unless we are in trouble. Few adults meet the Lord when there is not trouble in his/her life.
Thirdly, Jacob never forgot the place where he first encountered God. Neither can I. Can you remember where you were when you first met the Lord?