Friday, February 18, 2011

From Bitterness to Sweetness (Prayer and Intercession)

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The work of intercession is rarely inactive. In fact on the heals of a great movement of God there can still be great challenges. Moses was not immune to this.

Then Moses led Israel on from the Red Sea, and they went out to the Wilderness of Shur. They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter-that is why it was named Marah. The people grumbled to Moses, "What are we going to drink?" So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he threw it into the water, the water became drinkable. He made a statute and ordinance for them at Marah and He tested them there.
Exodus 15:22-25 (HCSB)

After crossing the Red Sea and journeying for three days the camp was running out of water. So they had been on foot for 10 days in the wilderness. Water for that many people was a very serious issue. Then when they find water it is bitter so they cannot drink, it is understandably discouraging to the natural man. One might suggest that three days after a great miracle of God would hardly be the time to start complaining. But in reality in the United States we live in one of the most affluent cultures in human history, yet we complain right along with the best of them. I believe it is in our nature to complain. Also being in the wilderness without water is a very serious issue. You can go a while without food, but you will not live long without water. So their need was very real. However, complaining was not going to solve their bitterness.  If anything it would only increase it!

To the spiritual man, a man of faith there is only one option.  Go to God!  Notice Moses' response to the people's grumbling. He prayed, listened, obeyed, waited on the Lord, praised and glorified God. Moses cried out to the Lord. God gave him instructions. Moses followed the instructions. Moses watched as God healed the waters. It is not specifically recorded that they worshiped and glorified God, but the name Jehovah Ropha (The Lord that Heals) can be a very worshipful name. I would also like to point out that the name makes it clear who gets the credit here. God healed the the water, not some magic at the hands of Moses, not some clever understanding of the properties of the branch. No, to be clear, God interceded, Moses' role was to bring the petition to God and follow obediently what God was showing him. Such is the way of the minister of intercession. We bring the need before the Lord, obey what God says to us, and glorify God for the outcome.

Notice that last phrase, "He (God) tested them there." It was a test of obedience (Exodus 15:26). What is more it was obedience leading to greater faith and greater blessing. They obeyed by faith what God called on them to do, God healed the water, they grew in faith, and God led them to a oasis in the midst of the desert (Exodus 15:27). God could have led them straight to the oasis, but they would have not noticed nor would it have strengthened their faith.

See in our own lives we have to accept the bitter moments along with the sweet moments. If we only long for the sweet moments and are discouraged by the bitter moments we will not grow in our faith. We become spoiled and take God for granted. But if we can learn to trust and obey God in the bitter moments then He will heal the bitterness and lead us into greater blessing. One thing to keep in mind in light of eternity our bitterness is only temporary. The blessing of God is eternal.

It has come to my awareness that some of the mightiest prayer warriors are some of the most humble people I have met. The are regularly glorifying God for what he has done in their lives and in the lives of others. To my shame I have doubted their praises when a natural explanation has been obvious to me. See at that time I was looking with natural eyes.

"Lord pull back the veil that I might see Your mighty works and appreciate Your healing hand. In Jesus Name AMEN"


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