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Bitter and Sweet

Words of Faith Final

Bitter and Sweet
Words of Faith 11-18-2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2022
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Exodus 15
[23] When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) [24] So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?"
[25] Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. [26] He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you."
[27] Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

As the Israelites made their way across the desert, they finally came to a watering hole at a place called Marah only to discover that the water was bitter and undrinkable! "Marah" means "bitter." The people began to grumble against Moses about this. It may seem difficult to understand this murmuring after their remarkable deliverance and the triumphal songs of worship, but thirst can be a terrible thing! Arriving at what appears to be an inviting water source only to discover it is bitter would be a terrible disappointment.
"Grumbling" actually became a common issue for the people in the desert. Learning to trust the Lord on this journey will mean learning to respond in faith rather than grumbling. This may be one of the most basic "faith" choices we make daily.
The Lord apparently had a plan. When Moses cried out with this problem he was shown a particular tree or "piece of wood" which made the water sweet and drinkable. Some have looked for a naturalistic explanation. There are aromatic plants in the desert which are known to sweeten water. But even if this was the case, it was a solution created and revealed by God. These city folks would not have found it on their own.
The water became sweet, and they drank enough to continue the journey. Just a little further down the road was a wonderful oasis called Elim, which means "a place in the desert." This place had twelve springs and seventy palms. It was a magnificent place for many people to rest and refresh.
We are left with a powerful image. Very simply, our journey will include "Marah," or bitterness. But there is a wood- a "tree" or plank- that will make the pool of bitterness sweet and drinkable. In our Christian journey, this tree is obviously the cross of Jesus.
The cross of Jesus changes everything. The hard pain and dryness of the desert do not go away, but the bitterness is changed to sweetness. The Lord also leads us to Elim, a place in the desert. It is just over the hill from the place of bitterness. Elim is a place of delightful rest from the journey. It is still in the desert. There is still more travel ahead. But at Elim, we find the refreshment of the Holy Spirit that will carry us through the rest of our journey.
Where are you on your journey? Have you come to a bitter pool? It is easy to grumble. But the cross of Jesus will get you through that place. The cross will transform and sweeten the hard times. We can either murmur or put the cross of Jesus into those waters. And just over the hill is a place of rest and refreshment. There is the sweet fellowship of the Body of Christ. There is the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and the delight of the Living Water of Jesus.

Father, I give thanks that You have provided everything that is needed for my journey. Help me to be focused upon You. Sweeten the bitter waters that I encounter with the wonder of the cross. Lead me to the refreshment of Your Body and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2022
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2022 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.