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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 13 No. 15   Bitter Or Sweet???


We all encounter changing circumstances, and while we can’t control change, we can choose how we respond to it. Let’s spend some time today considering what God’s Word says about facing change.  When Israel left Egypt for the promised land, they found that the journey wasn’t all “milk and honey”; and only a few days after watching God part the Red Sea, they were transformed into a murmuring crowd rather than grateful pilgrims!

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.

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying,

What shall we drink?

25 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,

26 And said,

If thou wilt diligently hearken

to the voice of the LORD thy God,

and wilt do   

that which is right in his sight,

and wilt give ear

to his commandments,

and keep all his statutes,

I will put none of these diseases upon thee,

which I have brought upon the Egyptians:

for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

27 And they came to Elim,

where were twelve wells of water,

and threescore and ten palm trees:

and they encamped there by the waters.”   Exodus 15:23-27

Israel, like us so often, came upon bitter waters, and their first reaction was to grumble and complain!  Ouch!  That sounds like what I often do, even when we know that God is totally in control, and we can trust HIM.  Paul shared this truth in his letter to the Romans.  (And while it’s a lengthy passage, I think it’s worthy of our consideration—it may help adjust our attitude of gratitude.)

For we know that the whole creation

groaneth and travaileth in pain together

until now.

23 And not only they,

but ourselves also,

which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,

even we ourselves

groan within ourselves,

waiting for the adoption,

to wit,

the redemption of our body.

24 For we are saved by hope:

but hope that is seen

is not hope:

for what a man seeth,

why doth he yet hope for?

25 But if we hope for that we see not,

then do we with patience wait for it.

26 Likewise the Spirit also

helpeth our infirmities:

for we know not what we should pray for

as we ought:

 but the Spirit itself

maketh intercession

for us

with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts

knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,

because he maketh intercession

for the saints

according to the will of God.

28 And we know

that all things work together

for good

to them that love God,

to them who are the called

according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow,

he also did predestinate

to be conformed

to the image of his Son,

that he might be the firstborn

among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate,

them he also called:

and whom he called,

them he also justified:

and whom he justified,

them he also glorified.

31 What shall we then say to these things?

If God be for us,

who can be against us?

32 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?”   Romans 8:22-32

Our God is faithful and trustworthy, and we can trust HIM fully; yet sometimes we become distracted and sidetracked, forgetting that our God reigns.  Paul reminds us that our “hope” is sure and certain because our faith/hope is in Jesus, the One who gave HIS life for our salvation; and not for our salvation only but to guide our every step!  Paul assures us that Jesus is working “all things” for our good—no matter how our circumstances may look to us–for Jesus is at work with one goal in mind (and it’s not our comfort or ease), that we might “be conformed to the image of his Son”!!!  Oh, to learn to relish HIS work IN us!

Just as God was working to teach His people to “be” His people—He is working to conform us into the image of Jesus, His Son!  What more could we desire?  A wonderful Savior who gave Himself that we might have real life,  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”!!!  But we must be willing to receive Him as our Lord and Savior, and become His child, receiving His Holy Spirit to dwell within us!

But as many as received him,

to them gave he power

to become the sons of God,

even to them

that believe on his name:

13 Which were born,

not of blood,

nor of the will of the flesh,

 nor of the will of man,

but of God.”  John 1:12-13

The question that we must deal with is, will we allow God to make our “bitter water sweet” or will we make God’s “sweet water bitter” by our disregard for His Word and His ways.  Jesus tells us that what is “in our heart” will come “out of our mouth”! James bluntly reminds us of the danger of a tongue out of God’s control—it’s a pretty ‘bitter’ pill for some of us—but a ‘pill’ we may need to take for our spiritual health!  So, Jesus’ message first, then we’ll consider James’ message also.

8 This people draweth nigh unto me

with their mouth,

and honoureth me with their lips;

but their heart is far from me…

…11 Not that which goeth into the mouth

defileth a man;

but that which cometh out of the mouth,

this defileth a man…

…17 Do not ye yet understand,

that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth

goeth into the belly,

and is cast out into the draught? 

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth

come forth from the heart;

and they defile the man.

19 For out of the heart

proceed evil thoughts,





false witness,


20 These are the things which defile a man:

but to eat with unwashen hands

defileth not a man.”    Portions of Matthew 15:8-20

And the tongue is a fire,

a world of iniquity:

so is the tongue

among our members,

that it defileth

the whole body,

and setteth on fire

the course of nature;

and it is set on fire

of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea,

is tamed,

 and hath been tamed

of mankind:

8 But the tongue

can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil,

full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God,

even the Father;

and therewith

curse we men,

which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth

proceedeth blessing

and cursing.

My brethren,

these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place

sweet water

and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren,

bear olive berries?

either a vine,


so can no fountain both yield

salt water

and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge

among you?

let him shew

out of a good conversation

 his works

with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife

in your hearts,

glory not,

and lie not

against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above,

but is earthly,



16 For where envying and strife is,

there is confusion

and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above

is first pure,

then peaceable,


and easy to be intreated,

full of mercy

and good fruits,

without partiality,

and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness

is sown in peace

of them that make peace.” James 3:6-18

I can’t help but wonder how many times “hell” has spewed out of my mouth instead of “heaven”? I must check my heart, as we all do, seeking God’s face and wisdom to “order my steps in thy word; oh Lord, help me to see what you see; to keep my heart pure before you—for only YOU can purify my heart and hence my tongue!

Search me, O God,

and know my heart:

try me,

and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way

 in me,

and lead me

in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

The steps of a good man

are ordered by the LORD:

and he delighteth

in his way.

24 Though he fall,

he shall not be utterly cast down:

for the LORD upholdeth him

with his hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

So, in closing, my question for us is, are our words, lives, testimonies a bitter dose for our God, or a sweet savor to His heart?  It’s a question that only you/I can answer before our God!  But remember—there is a test coming!  May we heed the admonition that Paul gave to the Ephesian church.  Blessings on your day!

Be ye therefore followers of God,

as dear children;

2 And walk in love,

as Christ also

hath loved us,

and hath given himself

for us

an offering

and a sacrifice to God

for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication,

and all uncleanness,

or covetousness,

let it not be once named among you,

as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness,

nor foolish talking,

nor jesting,

which are not convenient:

but rather giving of thanks.”   Ephesians 5:1-4

Amen and Amen!!!