A Water Worth Drinking

There’s just some things I don’t get. Like why our soybeans didn’t grow well this year. Why they charge to see the tractor pull at the county fair. (It should be free.) Why some people can eat anything and everything they want and never gain weight, yet if I look at a piece of cheesecake for too long, I gain two pounds. Seriously, I don’t get it.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7
Key Verse: “For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5


Then there’s the things other people don’t get. Like why I let me children climb up and around and through and under the shopping cart while buying groceries. (They’re fine. I promise. You should see them at home.) Why I let my kids eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. (Um well, because they’re delicious.) Why I do anything and everything I possibly can to avoid public restrooms. (I mean, do I have to explain this one?)

Then, there’s the Israelites. Who just plain didn’t get it. Delivered by God. Led by God. Protected by God. Continually in the presence of God. Yet once again thirsty in the desert and instead of remembering how God provided water for them oh say a few weeks before, they accuse Moses of premeditated murder. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (v. 3)

Concerned for his life, Moses goes to God, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me” (v. 4). Apparently, things were a little tense. So God tells Moses to take the staff he struck the Nile with and strike the rock at Horeb. “Water shall come out of it, and the people will drink” (v. 6).

Water from a rock. Interesting. But God didn’t choose such a method because there was some deep-water reservoir under the rock that no one knew about. (He doesn’t need reservoirs.) Nor did he choose it because he wanted to play games with the people. No, God chose such a method because it had purpose. As in everything God does, there was meaning behind it.

Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 10, the rock was a picture of Christ. “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (v. 4).

They received life giving water from the Rock that was Christ because He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Apart from Him no one gains eternal life. (Even the Israelites.)

Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

There’s only one way to Heaven and it’s to drink the cup that Christ offers. The cup of his death, burial, and resurrection. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Thus, there was only one-way God wanted Moses to get water out of the rock. He wanted Moses to strike the rock with his staff. The same staff he used to bring judgment on the Egyptian people. Because unless Christ was struck, the living water would not flow.

For “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22).

Jesus said to the crowd in John 7, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (v. 37-39).

It’s not only that we get to drink the living water, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit, this living water now flows from within us. (Phew. I am unworthy.)

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4). He is the Rock and there is none other. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2).

Do you see it friend? Do you see the purpose God had in the rock at Horeb when the Israelites thirsted and there was nothing they could drink, nothing that could satisfy, except the abundant flowing water of the rock?

I take comfort in the fact that God can place His purpose on all things, even when at first, I can’t see it. Even something as insignificant as a rock or as inconvenient as thirst. I love the picture God draws for us here, yet little did the Israelites realize the significance of what was before them.

Furthermore, the picture expands when almost forty years later, prior to entering the Promised Land, the Israelites complained of thirst yet again at the same location, Meribah, which means quarreling by the way. If you read the account in Numbers 20 it sounds like the same story only this time God instructs Moses to simply speak to the rock and it will yield its water (Num. 20:8). The same rock; the same Christ.

But instead of speaking to it, Moses strikes the rock (yet again). A serious offense that cost Moses entrance into the land. Why? Because Christ our Rock was struck once, for all, not twice. For “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

Moses didn’t need to strike the rock again, he just needed to speak to it. And the fresh and full water would flow. The grace. The blessings. The living water welling up into eternal life available to all who are willing to drink, would flow if Moses would simply ask.

What a depiction! Ask and you shall receive, the living water, the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

God loves painting pictures my friend. Beautiful displays of His glory in our lives, just as He did with Israel. And really, there’s no greater privilege. So hold on. Even if you don’t understand, even if it doesn’t make sense and feels harder than it should be, keep trusting. He’s got a plan and purpose more marvelous than any of us can even imagine.

But first, we’ve got to drink the water.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you drunk of the living water? If so, is the living water, i.e. the Holy Spirit, evidently flowing out of your life?
What situation do you need to trust Christ with today? Do you think it’s possible God could be painting a beautiful display of his glory amid your difficult circumstances?

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How the Bitter Things Become Sweet

One of the biggest misunderstandings of the Christian walk is that life will be easy. Saved by the blood of Christ, it feels like we should also be saved from the trials of this life. After all, we’re God’s children. Doesn’t that mean something?


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 15:22-27
Key Verse: “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Isaiah 41:17


Yes, oh yes, it means my God is for me and no longer against me. It means I have a hope and a future. It means I have an advocate in Heaven and every spiritual blessing. It means I am never alone. It means I am indwelt by His spirit. Able to please my Father. Able to store up treasure in heaven. Able to spend forever with my Savior.

But it does not mean I get an address on Easy Street. That my friend is a lie of the devil. Meant to sabotage the trust we’ve placed in Jesus. (I think our brothers and sisters in Florida and Texas and Montana and Idaho and California and Washington and Oregon would agree. Phew, did I miss anyone?)

Three days into the journey (post Red Sea) it wasn’t Easy Street for the Israelites either. With their tongues sticking to the roof of their mouths, and not a drop of water left in the can (at least that’s how I’m imagining it), they at last spot water up ahead. Oh thank goodness! But when they got to it, they couldn’t drink even the smallest amount, for it was bitter.

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never been three days in a hot, dry desert with no water. I’m guessing thirsty at that point is an understatement. (Especially considering the giant water bottles we lug around these days. Gotta get in our H2O.) So I get it – they had a problem. Our bodies can only go so long without water.

But to their discredit, just 72 hours before they had witnessed God’s authority over water. (The parting of the Red Sea.) So when they got to Marah (which means bitterness by the way), and the water was bad, they should have been like, “No problem! Our God’s got this!” (Can you imagine how that would have pleased the LORD?) Yet instead, they grumbled against Moses. Or rather against God, since He is the one who led them there.

Dumbfounded at their predicament the Israelites asked Moses, “What shall we drink?” (It sounds so casual but I don’t think they were nice about it.) To which Moses, unsure, went to God. Who showed him a log (or tree) that he could throw into the water to make it sweet.

Right, a log. Sure.

But oh the significance of that log! I can think of another log (or tree) that’s sweetened my life. Can you?  1 Peter 2:24 states, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” Why? So we could enjoy the sweetness of eternal life, instead of the bitterness of death.

Do you see the comparison?

In this life, we’re going to face bitter, hard things. There’s just no way around it. Unimaginable things. Things that don’t seem fair. Things we’re going to question and shake our heads at. And it’s only Jesus who can make it sweet. Because of his death, burial, and resurrection, on the tree, we can still celebrate.

Nothing can sweeten the bitterness of life like Jesus can. He alone can work things together for our good and His glory. Taking what’s messy and making it shine with brilliance and purpose. Using the worst of situations to draw us into the sweet surrender of His presence.

The cup He offers is delightful. It’s not wrath, it’s rest. In Christ, the things that are naturally bitter in this world become sweet to us who seek life in him. Who patiently endure. Who share in his sufferings, but also share in his victory. “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Take Paul and Silas for example. Beaten with rods and placed in prison, they sang songs of praise to God. The cross (or tree for that matter) sweetening what should have been bitter waters.

But what about when it’s not just bitter waters I’m wading through, but the driest of deserts? What about then? When my marriage is shriveled up. When my patience is dried up. When my job is messed up.

Just turn to Jesus my friend, he’s waiting to provide.

Isaiah 41:17-18 says, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”

Pools of water! Overflowing fountains! In the driest of places. It’s God who is able. Then look what comes next in that passage: “I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together” (Is. 41:19).

Not only water, but God will give shade in the desert! A place to sit and cool thyself. A place to rest and enjoy.

Consequently, look what came next for the Israelites: “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water” (Ex. 15:27). Shade! After Marah, came Elim. Water and shade in the desert. Refreshment for the weariest of souls.

Our God is so kind.

In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Not just in eternity, but now, in the sweetness of His presence. In diligent obedience, there is blessing to be had.

In addition, it wasn’t just drinkable water God offered the Israelites. But sweet water. He made that which had been bitter taste good.

So how about it? Are you thirsty? Are you worn out? Are there bitter waters to wade through? Or dry deserts to walk through? Come, taste, and see, that the LORD is good my friend! “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8).

Or as Israel might have said that day…

Blessed is the soul who holds on to Jesus until even the bitter things become sweet.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Where do you seek for satisfaction? In Jesus or the things of this world?
How have you experienced the sweetness of His presence?
When has Jesus made even the bitter things sweet for you?

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