January 23

Read Exodus 17 -- 19

In Today's Reading:

Thirst causes murmuring against Moses; water from the rock; Amalek defeated; Jethro's advice; God speaks at Mount Sinai.

As they continued their journey toward the promised land, the Israelites faced another test of their dependence upon God.The whole Israelite community traveled . . . according to the LORD's command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. . . . But the people were thirsty for water there, and complained to Moses. They said, Why did you ever bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us . . . with thirst? . . . And he named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites argued, and because they tested the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us or not? (Exodus 17:1,3,7). The Lord knew that there was no water there and yet He directed the Israelites to that very place.

The wilderness journeys exposed the Israelites' refusal to trust the Lord God has warned us: Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with this generation and said, They always go astray in their hearts (Hebrews 3:8-10).

Israel's release from bondage and the wilderness journey is symbolic of the Christian's pilgrimage through life. From their experiences, we should learn to trust God even when anticipated resources are not available. Just as the Israelites blamed Moses, we are tempted to blame others. Frustration on the job, emotional stress, discontent, finding fault with our uncomfortable situation, hate, jealousy, fits of anger — these are all evidence of the selfish life demanding its own way. Even more serious, it is an expression of distrust in the wisdom, competence, and goodness of God.

The Christian's faith is not based on favorable circumstances, but on our all-wise Creator. The key to peace of mind and overcoming all life's problems is confidence in His word. The Christian is admonished to express faith when distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:6-7).

Christ Revealed:

As the Rock and the Water that came forth (Exodus 17:6). For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ (I Cor. 10:4).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Joe Baca (CA), Sen. Thomas Carper (DE), Rep. Bud Shuster (PA), and Rep. Charles Taylor (NC) · Country: Mauritius (1 million) 500 miles east of Madagascar · Major languages: English and Creole · Limited religious freedom · 50% Hindu; 27% Roman Catholic; 17% Muslim; 5% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4).

Optional Reading: Matthew 23

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:5