Friday, April 24, 2009

Bitterness To Sweetness

Yesterday when I was studying Exodus 15, God showed me a picture of Himself in the passage.

God's provision to His people with faith are joy (sweetness), healing and blessing.
Exodus 15:22-27
Looking at the passage, it was very meaningful to me.

You see, the Israelites just came out of Egypt and witnessed the 10 plagues, the Passover, and the elimination of the Egyptian army. In the beginning chapter of Exodus 15, they worshiped with Moses and Miriam's song.

And as they continued their journey for 3 days, they found no water. And when they did, they could not drink the bitter waters of Mara.
Sometimes, as a Christian, when we stop seeing God working in our lives, we would grumble. We ask why did God let 'this' to happen, why did God not intervene, why was there no answer to our prayers, etc. As a result, we become very bitter with God.
The Bible says that god is loving and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. However, experiential wise, we might not have walked with Him in that manner.
Sometimes, deep inside that bitterness is just collecting and growing.
For the last one year after a broken relationship, I can say I was bitter. And that bitterness led me to almost do stupid things in my life and turn permanently from Christ. Myself, I have experienced this empty way of rebellion and that bitterness was the cause of it.

How are you feeling bitter today? Or about the past? How have you grumbled?
As you read this things, what bitter roots come to mind?

When Moses cried out to the Lord and God showed moses the wood.
That wood is the shadow of Jesus Christ. Christ died on the cross, took our curses on the tree. God is merciful and gracious and will give us a way of escape. And from the old testament, God has always wanted to describe that picture of Christ to all of us.
Naomi, in the book of Ruth, in response to what happened changed her name to Mara.

How have you cried out to God today? When problems come your way, what is your No.1 response? Crying out to God or to rely on your own wisdom? How do you respond when things seems bitter?

Moses threw the wood into the water, and it became sweet.
When we cast Christ into the centre of our lives - into the midst of our trials, problems and bitterness, we find the result is sweet.
For God works for the good of those who love Him.
When we focus on Christ, all our bitterness turns into joy.
You see it is not the latter act of throwing the wood into the water that is significant, but it is the former act of putting faith in what God has to say that rewards you.

What or who are you focused on today? Your duties? Your position? Your belonging?
Is your ministry filled with bitter people and acts of throwing wood, or is your ministry filled with joy, sweetness and faith?

Then God made a decree and law to the people that if they LISTEN to the voice, THEN DO what is right, pay attention and keep His commands, God is faithful to not fall the disease of Egypt on them, but heal them.
Listening PRECEDES the doing. Paying attention PRECEDES the keeping.
For it is the hearing of the word that you have faith - Romans 10:17
Most of us today are so attuned to speed - fast cars, internet, sms, communication, etc.
We might read, but not see, hear, but not listen, do, but not think.
Doing does not come before listening. If you try to throw the wood, before crying out to the Lord, the water will not be sweet.
Then your service will seem to you nothing more than mere duties.
God promises the result of listening is healing - both from the judgment of diseases, as well as general healing.

How are you LISTENING to God today? Are you hearing or listening? Are you paying attention to God?
Are you doing more, or listening more? Are you throwing the wood, without listening first? Are you experiencing healing in supernatural ways today?

Then God led them to Elim, and there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees.
After that lesson of faith, God not only promises healing, but blesses them physically. Now they have abundantly more water and shade from the heat.
God blesses people who listens before they do, who pay attention before they keep.
All is required, but Listening and Paying Attention comes first.

How are you experiencing healing and material blessing from God today?

Personal Note:
I'm really encouraged by this passage. After listening to this chapter, I'm comforted that God wants to set me free from my bitterness, my painful past and prepare a sweet, joyful and blessed future for me.

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