I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter

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“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.
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. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 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,” – Exodus 15:22-25

I was eating at a local barbecue restaurant one day during my lunch break. I am a serious sweet tea addict and my glass was low and I was in need of a refill. I noticed that they had an automatic tea brewing machine that was in the process of making a fresh batch of tea. I was glad for the chance to get a nice, fresh glass of iced tea, so I filled my glass up from the dispenser as the brewer continued to pour tea into the large container.

Everything seemed great until I took a sip of the tea. The overwhelming taste of tea and caffeine almost knocked me off my feet. I didn’t realize that I was drinking concentrated tea without any water added. The machine had not yet added the water when I poured my glass. I didn’t drink any tea for a couple of weeks after that.

Sometimes the circumstances of life leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths. Such was the case for the children of Israel in the wilderness of Shur. They had travelled for three days without water, and, when they finally found something to drink, it was bitter. They murmured and complained about the hand that had been dealt to them.

As we look closer at the passage, we see that the water wasn’t the only thing that was bitter.

First, the wilderness was bitter. They had travelled three days in the hot, dry wilderness with no water. Try that and see how long it is before you complain. But, sometimes life can be this way. We follow The Lord faithfully, but it seems as though He has led us through a wilderness. Days of suffering and dryness pass, and we find no relief for our thirsty souls. It seems The Lord has forsaken us. Life has seasons of bitterness.

Second, the water was bitter. They had travelled all this way to finally find water and it was bitter. But, instead of turning to God, they complained. They sought an earthly solution to their problem. This world and all it has to offer is nothing but a bitter drink of water. Not matter how far we travel in this life, we will find nothing but bitterness apart from God.

Third, the words were bitter. The Israelites are infamous for murmuring and complaining. They had witnessed many mighty miracles from the hand of God, and, yet, they still complained when a little discomfort came their way. What do you do when life hands you a bitter pill? Do you complain? God said “In every thing give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). God performed the greatest miracle of all when He saved your soul, so, nothing you face in life is too big for Him to handle.

So, what was the answer?

First of all, Moses prayed. He sought the face of The Lord. This should be our reaction in all the circumstances of life. Pray about every decision that comes your way, no matter if it be great or small, just pray. Second, Moses obeyed God’s command. He told Moses to cast a tree into the water. Moses obeyed and the waters were made sweet. Always obey The Lord.

Notice that God showed Moses a tree. What a beautiful picture of the cross. Mankind was full of bitterness, thirst and sin until the cross was cast into the waters of humanity. Now the sinful are made sweet.

What are you burdened with today? What bitter waters have come your way? Look to the cross and all will be made sweet. God always points us to the cross. Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If God can save our souls, then He can sweeten our situation. Look to the cross.

Shattered

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And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
Genesis 44:28

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, things seem to work out differently than we had planned. This was the case one day as I was working at a local printing business. We had been called to install a new light on the outside of the building for security purposes. The kind of light I was installing is called a wall pack, and it was big and heavy.

These lights have a large hinged cover on the front with a thick glass lens that is used to cover the bulb. The hinged cover stays on the light fixture securely except for when it is open. Then it can be completely removed by sliding it to the right. A safety wire is usually hooked between the cover and the rest of the light to prevent it from falling.

I had finished mounting and wiring the light and I was attempting to install the hinged cover. All I had to do was hook on the safety wire and I would be done. The whole time I was doing this, I was consciously aware of the fact that I needed to be extremely careful not to drop the cover. I was constantly thinking “be careful” as I was screwing on the safety wire.

Then it happened. My hand slipped and time seemed to slow down as I watched helplessly as the cover fell in slow motion. It landed on the pavement and shattered into a million pieces. I was sick. Sick that it had happened. Sick with myself for letting it happen. Wondering how it happened when I had been so careful to make sure that it wouldn’t happen. But it did happen.

My incident with the cover is insignificant compared to the hopes and dreams that have been shattered. Jacob’s world was shattered when he came to believe that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal. I’m sure he had big hopes and dreams for his favorite son. Perhaps he would inherit all of Jacob’s possessions and lead the family and his herds. It was a noble dream. But God had other plans, and Joseph was taken away. The dream was dead.

Either we have had that happen to us, or we will have it happen. God tends to bring us to a place where he asks us to let go of that which is dearest to us.

It happened with me. I had great and mighty plans. I had fasted and prayed for hours each day to make sure that I was on the right path. I had planned out the girl I wanted to marry and how I would go into the ministry as an evangelist. I would sing and preach. But God had other plans. The girl broke my heart and I watched as all that I had planned shattered and crumbled. I was broken.

Maybe you are broken as you read this. Maybe your world has come crashing down beyond your control. Maybe you have obeyed God and done everything right and, yet, the bottom has fallen out. Take heart for you are not alone. Many great Christians of old have been where you are and watched as God took their broken dreams and replaced them with His own. And His way is always better. His way is best.

Soon your Joseph will be restored, and, this time, he will be a prince. Jacob could have never fathomed in his early years the riches his family would know. He was placed among the elites of the day. God’s way is best.

The pain I suffered caused me to leave my church of 16 years to attend a new one. I needed a new beginning. I arrived there shattered and broken. There I met my wonderful wife and now we are blessed with beautiful twin daughters. I play my guitar and sing in front of hundreds of people every week. God restored and renewed my life. His way is best.

I drove to the shop that day hoping that I might find a replacement cover. I walked in and was thrilled to find a spare cover laying on the shelf. It worked perfectly and I thank God as I rode back to install it.

If you are broken today and your dreams have been shattered, turn it over to The Lord. He may just have a place for you in the royal halls of Egypt. Our plan may be beloved, but God’s plan is best.

Charlie Benter

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
Psalm 40:1-2

His name was Charlie Benter. That’s a name I’ll never forget. He was a customer of ours that we worked for on several occasions. He was from Michigan and he was your stereotypical northerner. I live in the holy land of the south with sweet tea and grits, so I was not used to that culture. He was a little rough around the edges, but a very nice man.

A coworker and I went to work at his house for a few days and, when we arrived, we discovered that he was in bad health. His wife had recently passed and he sat in a lonely living room watching tv from a recliner. He could barely walk.

Most of the work we had to do was outside and in the basement. We spent one particular day in the basement. As the day neared an end, we were working steadily and I kept hearing a faint tapping noise. I heard it several times, but I passed it off as nothing. We finished for the day and waked upstairs to tell Mr. Benter that we were done, but he was nowhere to be found. Then we heard him calling for help.

We followed his voice and found him laying helplessly in the bathroom floor. He had fallen and wasn’t able to pull himself back up. I felt terrible. That tapping I heard was Mr. Benter beating on the floor in a desperate attempt to get our attention. We asked if we needed to call an ambulance, but all he wanted was for us to help him to his recliner. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

My coworker was a big guy. 6’4″. 240. I work out at the gym regularly and think I have a respectable amount of strength. It took ever last ounce of strength we had to move him. He couldn’t walk at all, and we had to drag him to his recliner. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally lifted him into his chair. We were all sweating and exhausted. We asked if he needed anything and he said no. We left feeling totally traumatized.

Like most Christians, I have seen my walk with The Lord go up and down. There have been times that it seemed like God was walking by my side, and others where my prayers seemed to stay below the ceiling. This was a time that I felt very close to The Lord. As the days passed, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to go see Mr. Benter. I felt like the situation we experienced would be a great way to witness to him.

I could tell him that we are all helpless and laying on the floor of life with no hope or strength to pick ourselves up. If we send for help, The Lord will come to our rescue, and lift us up out of the miry clay. I couldn’t hear the taps on the floor, but God hears the faintest cry. It would have been so easy to witness to him, but I never went. I am not proud of that fact.

The days went by and my boss told me that Mr. Benter was in the hospital. His was a wealthy man and my boss told me stories of a Mr. Benter handing out wads of cash to everyone at the hospital. Then he told me that he had died. That shook me to the core. I can only hope that God sent another willing vessel to give the gospel to Mr. Benter. If not, he is probably in hell and his blood is on my hands.

When the Holy Spirit whispers in our ear to share the gospel with someone, we should respond right away. That person could be a step from eternity. I’m not perfect and I don’t witness like I should, but I try and be a light to those around me. Whether it’s through telling someone the gospel, or giving out a tract, I try and obey The Lord. I still have a long way to go. Charlie Benter taught me that there may not be a second chance.

Perhaps you are reading this and you don’t know The Lord as Savior. He can and will save you if you pray and ask him to. We are all born helpless sinners laying bound for hell after death, but God can reach down and pull us up. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s all there is to it. Jesus paid for your sins when he died on Calvary. Ask Him to save you and He will.

We had great difficulty in helping Mr. Benter, but God is mighty to save. He can and will reach down in the miry clay and pit and lift you up to new life in Him.
Trust Him today.

Passing Clouds

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“For ever, O Lord,
thy word is settled in heaven.” – Psalm 119:89

I was working one day in a gas station parking lot to repair some inoperative pole lights. We have various methods for working on these type of light fixtures. Depending on the height of the pole, we usually rent some sort of a motorized lift.

In this particular case, the poles were not very high, so I decided to use my extension ladder to reach the light. This is not the safest way, so I wouldn’t recommend it. I tend to be a little adventurous at work and I try to complete the job as efficiently and with as little cost as possible. Lifts are expensive to rent.

I climbed the ladder, removed the light fixture’s cover and began to work. It was a beautiful day filled with blue skies and white puffy clouds, and, as I was working, my eyes drifted to the clouds. As I watched the clouds pass by, I suddenly felt dizzy and began to loose my balance. My heart jumped into my throat as the thought of falling overwhelmed me.

Then, I focused my eyes on the light. I was able to steady myself and regain my balance. It took focusing on a stable object to help me regain my footing.

This world is an ever changing mixture of opinions and philosophies. Entire television shows are devoted to debating the latest political topics. Social media provides a stage for millions to voice their thoughts and opinions on every subject under the sun. The only certainty in this world is that nothing is for certain.

Scientists, politicians, movies stars, and many others tell us how we must think and feel, and others say that there is no absolute truth. “If it feels good, do it.” “Love whoever you want to. ” “It’s a woman’s choice.” And on and on it goes.

God said that His Word was forever settled in Heaven. That’s a comforting thought.

It’s high time we got our eyes off the world and on the Word. Every day another Christian looses their balance and falls for the schemes of the world. We must not allow the passing clouds of opinion to catch our gaze.

Is your world unstable today? Do you need to regain your footing? Turn your eyes upon Jesus and his eternal unchanging Word.

Jesus Preached from a Boat

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” And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.”

Luke 5:1-3

I arrived at work one morning and I was handed my work order for the day. I was pleased to see it was for a job at a friend of mine’s house named David. We had become acquainted at a local mega church where we did a lot of electrical work. He used to be the facilities manager but was no longer working there. It had been a long time since I had seen him.

One of the perks of my job is that I meet a lot of nice and interesting people and David was one of them. He was a great guy to work for. He used to call and say that he had “gravy” work for us, but we would wind up working there for days. It was one of my favorite places to work.

David had recently suffered from a stroke and was forced to retire. I think it was hard to go from managing a multimillion dollar facility to staying at home all day, but this was where the Lord placed him. He and his wife were going to sell their house and, during the negotiations, it was discovered that the house had aluminum wiring. That’s where I came in. I was there to replace all the switches and outlets with aluminum compatible devices.

David followed me around as I worked and helped as much as he could. He would remove the wall plates ahead of me and replace them when I was done. We talked a lot during this time. We reminisced about various projects we completed at the church. We talked about how crazy it was working for a church.

The last day I worked at David’s house, he cooked us some bratwursts on the grill. We sat and talked and the subject turned back to the mega church where he had worked. We talked about the multimillion dollar sanctuary and how no expense was spared during its construction. The sound system alone cost a million. The heating and air system was placed in another part of the building and giant mufflers were installed on the vents to make the sanctuary quiet as possible. The place is a sight to behold.

Then David spoke with me honestly and said that, in some ways, it bothered him that all this money was spent on what was just a building. We talked of how people were lost and suffering all around the world, and millions were spent on a building instead. Then he said something to me that I’ll never forget. It was brilliant in its simplicity. He said, “Jesus preached from a boat.”

How true that is. We are so blessed in America. Our sanctuaries are built to honor God with padded pews, fancy paint jobs, expensive sound systems, projectors and the list goes on and on. Some cathedrals have gold lined walls and, yet, Jesus preached from a boat. We worship and sing in the comfort of air conditioned rooms where we are shielded from the weather, yet, Jesus preached from a boat.

The gospel can be declared anywhere. Whether it be spoken from behind an expensive pulpit or in the jail downtown, it’s still the gospel. Jesus preached from a boat.

I’ve never been to Bible college, but the Lord has been my professor for a long time. He teaches me lessons in various ways and, that day, He chose a retired facilities manager to show me that the gospel is the gospel, no matter where it’s preached.

When All Else Fails…..

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:6

I arrived at the job site with a truck load of assorted parts and 33 pages of blueprints. We had been hired to install some equipment at a local distribution center. I had never seen most of the parts that were sent to us and I had no clue how to install them. It was boxes and boxes of camera, motion detectors, and door lock controls. I was scratching my head and trying to figure everything out. I am an electrician and I have very little experience with security systems.

It’s an old saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions.” I tend to subscribe to that philosophy, but, in this case, I was so lost that I had no choice but to consult the blueprints. After four hours of studying the blueprints and a long lunch break to think it over, I was beginning to get an idea of what needed to be done. In the following week, I had to consult the blueprints many more times to make sure that I was handling everything properly. We finally finished the job, and, by the grace of God, everything worked!

In life, we make many of our decisions based on the knowledge we have. We take the “when all else fails” approach and we only go to God if we absolutely have to. But there are times that come that are so perplexing that don’t know what to do. Life sends us a truck load of assorted problems and situations and we are not sure how it all fits together. We are so lost and confused that we need some blueprints for life.

God has provided the blueprints we need in His Word and through prayer. His Word says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” All we need is to just acknowledge God and He has promised to guide us. I try and make this a constant practice in my life. Each day I pray over the jobs that I work on and I ask God to bless them. I ask God for guidance in purchases I make and every aspect of my life. I have never asked God for guidance and had the situation turn out bad. God blesses every time

Maybe you’ve recently had a truck load of problems come your way. Maybe you have lost your job. Maybe you are having marriage problems. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Consult the blueprints of God and He will guide you and bless you.

Darkness and light

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-8

It inevitably happens. I work at a business or office where they have a lot of lights out and, when I’m through upgrading the lights, the reaction is always the same. “The lights are too bright!”
The people working in these place had become used to the lack of light. Over time, the bulbs became less efficient and the light fixtures had worn out. Day by day the people had worked and the light had diminished more and more. Before they knew it, they were half way in the dark and they didn’t notice.
One by one I repair the lights and the room becomes brighter and brighter. “We need sunglasses!” “Now we’re going to have to clean up around here!” And the comments go on and on.
And so it goes in our walk with God. At salvation, the light was as bright as the noon day sun and our path was clearly illuminated. But, as time goes by, we let the light dim without even noticing it. A besetting sin, time out of God’s Word, and soon we walk in darkness.
Let in the light of God’s Word and it will reveal the dark and dirty places of your heart. The bright light may bring discomfort at first, but soon you will have joy in a fully lighted path.