SCRIPTURE READING: Exodus 15: 21-27

– The Lord can turn any situation around.
– In this story from the book of Exodus, the people of God had experienced great challenges and great deliverance.
– They had seen how the Lord rescued them from Egypt, only to find themselves caught between the sea and the approaching army.
– God opened the sea and made a way for them. The approaching army followed them into the sea, and they drowned when the path through the sea closed.
– The people of God celebrated with great rejoicing and singing, their enemy had been defeated and they were free.
– The Lord had turned the tables and turned their situation around.
– The next challenge was a small one, in the light of what they had just been through, but they failed this test, but God still came through for them and turned bitter water sweet.

– Life has its fair share of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, challenges and breakthroughs, joys and sorrows, bitter and sweet, as well as failures and victories.
– All these aspects make up the rich tapestry of life.
– Why would we need and enjoy a breakthrough if there was no challenge.
– It’s how we choose to respond to the negatives that ultimately determines the outcome.
– God has a way of working things out and turning situations around.
Exodus 15:23-24 When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means ”bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. ”What are we going to drink?” they demanded.
– It’s interesting to note that they (the people) called the place bitter, it was the name they gave to it. This was not the way that God saw it and it was not the name that He gave to the place.
– When we go through difficulties, we can write off the whole situation and label it as something that it in all likelihood may not be.
– You might call something a disaster or a bitter pill, when God sees it as an opportunity or a possibility for a sweet outcome.
– In the middle of this situation the people developed a negative attitude and started complaining and demanding.
– I often find people responding on social media in a similar way when they see or read something they do not like, or something they feel strongly about.
– The challenge is not to become agitated but live in dependence on God, Who is able to turn any situation around.

– We all face challenges in the course of life.
– Sometimes we can think that our challenges are far greater than what others go through, but this is not the case.
– It is said that you never know what another person is going through until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
– Each challenge presents us with a unique opportunity to react or respond.
– Reaction may come easy to us because it is our automated, unrestrained response to something. Literally reaction means to meet one action with another action. I have discovered that two wrongs never make a right and this wrong (reaction) never undoes whatever caused it in the first place.
– Responding is a different approach. Responding flows out of the concept of the word responsibility. It means we pause for a moment, and we consider and deliberately think about the situation and how we should best respond. It is in these moments or these split-seconds that we can choose a better way.
– The nation of Israel reacted to their situation by calling it what it was, bitter. They then become angry, frustrated and demanding. In one word they became ‘ugly’.
– Challenges are tests we need to pass. If we will pause long enough to not react, we may just discover that there is an answer, and we may be able to see God’s hand in everything and see how He will work on our behalf.

– There is no problem for which there is no answer.
– I remember as a child my parents were friends with a man who was a scientist. I wanted to know what is the highest number a person could count to. I was convinced, as a little boy, that numbers stopped somewhere. So I asked this man because I was sure he would know the answer. He answered in a way I would not have imagined. He said that you could never reach that point, because whatever number you reached you would always be able to add one more.
– Sometimes we can think that we have reached the end of the road or that there are no more alternatives, options or solutions, but with God in our lives, anything can happen, even the ridiculous.
– Even when, from a human perspective, there seems to be no outcome, God can take that and turn it into something positive.
– It is for this reason that we should not write anything or anyone off, because the last word has not been spoken, and something can always be added that can change things.
Exodus 15:25 ‘So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.’
– Who would have thought that a random piece of useless wood could change the whole situation.
– With God, there is always an answer for every problem.

– Sometimes we go through things, or we face things that we feel we do not deserve or that God has no knowledge of the magnitude of the struggle we are facing.
– Perhaps the reason the children of God, in this story from Exodus, reacted so to the situation of the bitter water was the fact that they thought God did not know or foresee that they would encounter or experience this?
– You see, if you go and read verse 22, the people of Israel had moved from the Red Sea into the wilderness, and it was a 3-day journey without water.
– In the area where I live, we experience water outages periodically and it amazes me how quickly people react and turn on the anger with the municipality and the authorities. Imagine 3 days in a wilderness, without water, it’s enough to bring out the worst in anyone.
– The question is, is the Lord aware of the situation?
– You may feel like your situation is so difficult or has been going on for such a long time that you think He does not know what you are facing or going through.
– The fact of the matter is that nothing happens without God’s knowledge, and He knows all things including the small details.
– The struggles we face can emanate from so many sources, but He knows this, and He has allowed it to pass our way.
– I remember when my family and myself were going through a difficult time. We never imagined that we would ever face such challenges, but God had His hand in all of it. At times we even felt God-forsaken, but He had allowed it, as wrong as it was and as unjust as it was, to work within us and produce something in our lives.
– God knows exactly what you are going through. It may feel like it has been going on too long and now, just as you are understanding something clearly at last, the water is bitter.
– Perhaps it is that very bitter water that God is going to turn into something sweet.

– It is of vital importance that we ask the Lord to lead and guide us and then do, or obey, what He tells us to do.
– The option to ask Him for help is an option that is always available to us.
– The opportunity to listen to what He wants us to do is also open to us if we will be still enough to hear.
– The most important thing is to be ready and willing to do what He tells us to do.
Exodus 15:25 ‘So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.’
– How did Moses know, when he saw the piece of wood, that that was God’s answer to the problem.
– How did he know that he should take that random piece of wood and throw it in the water?
– At face value it seems like a ridiculous suggestion or a useless action to take.
– But the Lord must have prompted or told him to take this action, and who would have known that it would be the one thing that would solve the problem and make the bitter water sweet.

– Moses could not solve the problem of the bitter water.
– There are some problems in life that we cannot solve without God’s help.
– We cannot do the miracle, only God can do the miracle, perform the impossible and turn the water into wine or the bitter water into sweet water.
– The Bible tells us that bitter and sweet water cannot flow from the same spring: James 3:11 ‘Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?’ This is a rhetorical question because bitter and sweet cannot come from the same source.
– So, we can safely assume that the sweet water that became available at this oasis was not a good batch of water in the midst of the bitter water.
– God had done a complete miracle and transformed the water from bitter to sweet.
– When He does a miracle in our lives and situations, He does not intend to only bring temporary or momentary relief, but He intends to turn the situation around for our good.
– This miracle of bitter water turning sweet, was followed up with a promise of healing and health that would be available to those who would follow the Lord.
Exodus 15:25-26 It was there at Marah that the LORD set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to Him. He said, ”If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD Who heals you.”
– This is blessing on blessing. This is what I like to call: ‘Blessed beyond measure!’
– But the Lord was not finished blessing them yet!
Exodus 15:27 ‘After leaving Marah, the Israelites travelled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.
– The Lord can turn something bitter into something sweet and something sweet into something wonderful – He can do it for you!

By Andrew W Roebert
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