Better Not Bitter

 
 
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I get tired of life rolling over me.  The problem is, if you’re like me, the longer you live, the more you find yourself just being bitter and mean.  So, what do you do if that’s you?  Because let’s be honest, some of that bitterness feels justified.  Tune in today for an encouraging message that might just change your life! Need prayer? visit my.oswegochristian.com/pray to post a request.Subscribe to our podcast on your phone to automatically have new messages downloaded weekly: in iTunes (http://my.oswegochristian.com/iTunes) or Android (http://my.oswegochristian.com/Google)

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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: I need to confess something to you guys.  A few years back, the staff and I were gearing up to go to Ozark Christian Colleges Preaching and Teaching Convention.  We were all looking over the different names of people who would be teaching classes and talking about what we were planning on go to.  And that’s when I saw it.  You ever known someone, who when you heard their name, something inside you wanted to growl?  I saw this person was teaching a class and I literally stopped in the middle of my sentence and just sat there. 
Oh man, I stopped and vented to the staff for a minute.  This guy is a person in ministry who had done some hurtful things to Jenni and I.  The poor staff was like, “uh…” ok…
and I went home that day thinking about how much bitterness I still had inside of me…
I wish I was better, I really do…
But instead of being better, I realized I was just bitter… B I know, NONE of you know what it’s like to be bitter-None of you know what it’s like to have a boss who CONSTANTLY treats you like a child -None of you have ever wanted to hide your husbands remote control so he’d just LISTEN for once in your life -None of you have ever just been dismissed and not taken serious… -No one in here has ever been taken advantage of, OVER AND OVER AGAIN
I know, I’m the only one who has EVER dealt with being bitter…
But, just for the sake of discussion, let’s pretend like some of us need to hear a few words to deal with the potential bitterness for the one other person and me…
One of the things I love about the scripture is that it doesn’t hide the ugly parts of the history it records.  It tells it as it is…
BIBLE:We are about to jump into the story of Moses leading the Israelites around out in a desert.
I need you to picture this for me, they are moving along down the south of the Red sea on their right and the desert on the left.  They have this beautiful crystal blue body of water – think of the bluest ocean you’ve ever seen, right beside them on one side and on the other side they have something similar to, well, Western Kansas…. Ha, seriously, it’s rocks and sand for as far as the eyes can see.
They have just seen the most amazing miracle you can imagine, God has rescued them from the Egyptians by parting the waters of the red sea and allowing them to escape while destroying the Egyptian army. 
and this is what the scripture says
Exodus 15:22-2722 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.[a]) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
ILLUSTRATION: I don’t know if you’ve ever been thirsty, but I was thinking back to a time when in the middle of 100 degree weather, my buddies and I decided to ride our bikes like 20 miles in the Arkansas river in Western Kansas – which is literally just a sand bed.  We had made it out to this sand company that harvested the sand from the river bed.  We got there and in the middle of this desert was this pool of water.  It was the most beautiful thing I’d seen all day.  It was  crystal clear, and perfectly round.  I was SO very thirsty that I did the dumbest thing in the world.  I got down and dipped my hand it in and took a drink. 
Have you ever smelled a dead mouse trapped in your wall? Imagine drinking that mixed with the taste of a perm…
It tasted like DEATH
And Moses is out here in the desert, people are thirsty – they’ve spend three days walking – little do they know they have 40 more years of this.  They have likely started to deplete any water stores they are carrying with them.  They are dog thirsty.  And they come to this spot with water, but when they drink from it, the water is bitter.  There is actually a lake called “bitter lake” in this region – it’s probably not Marah, but it’s called that because of the salt that’s in it. 
Most scholars think that this water wasn’t poisonous, but that it just plain tasted bad…
They ask the right question, right?“What are we to drink?”
But it is the way they ask it that’s the problem24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
They are questioning Moses and ultimately, God’s leadership-remember, they are still being led by a cloud and pillar of fire
Check this out, this could actually be translated like this because of the ambiguity in the Hebrew:“When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.” (NASB)
These people are ticked, and true to form of ticked people – they don’t have much room for anyone who is not on their side.
We don’t know anything about that in our culture right now, right?
But listen to Moses.. this guy – He’s amazing.  Because before I read this, let me tell you, as a leader who is doing their best for their people and then to have them turn on you, it’s HARD… But Moses…25 Then Moses cried out to the LordHe doesn’t have to do that… As a matter of fact, there are some points along the way where God is basically like, “Moses, let’s just call this and start over with you…” But Moses cries out on the behalf of the people… He cries out for God to give them an answer, to provide water they can stomach…
25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.
Incredible right, the miracle happens in a couple sentences.  God shows him a piece of wood, Moses throws it into the water, and the water, miraculously is drinkable. -God provides for the Israelites. 
And then God makes a covenant with them – that if they will listen and do what is right in God’s eyes, pay attention to his commands – He will protect them. 
GET DEVOTIONAL:Can I just get devotional on you right now?
Some of you have grown incredibly bitter in life… I get it, some of you are like, “darn right I’m bitter, and I have a right to be” I get it…Bitterness is the child of broken and unmet expectations
-Bitterness comes when you’ve been ignored -It comes when you’ve been taken advantage of -It comes when you feel forgotten -it comes and it’s subtle, but it comes and it sets up shop like those jokers in seattle and it’s hard to get it out
So, what do you do if that’s you? Because for some of you the bitterness feels justifiedListen to me, if bitterness is all clouding up the water of your life, can I throw some wood in it today, can I just be devotional?
The one person in all time and history who had the most right to be bitter
Better not bitter
Jesus was betrayed by his best friends left alone at the cross he was ridiculed by the people who cheered for him and mocked and beaten while He was down
and STILL -He prayed for those who were crucifying Him -He asked God to forgive them
He was betterLook, you can’t just magically get rid of your bitterness, there is something inside of you that you longed for or needed and it was taken from you. B The only way back from that, is to find healing
I feel like I’m standing up here to throw the cross into your life and remind you that the same God who saved the Israelites is the same God that is coming after you… He is the same one, who, at the end of his promise says to them:
“I am the Lord, who heals you.”
God is the one who heals you.  For them, He healed their physical ailments, for us, Jesus takes all that dead dried up shriveled part of your heart that has been slowly hardening from your bitterness and he Heals you with the cross, as you die to yourself and take on His life. 
That’s the power of the cross -that’s the wood being flung into your life
What will it take for you to set it all down – all your bitterness, all your hurt and ask Jesus to come and heal you?
Some of you need to let some tears flow today