Wilderness Amnesia

Tales from the Wilderness

Pastor Jonathan Drake - July 10, 2022

Community Group Study Notes

In this series, we have live preaching at each campus. If your group is made up of different campuses, you may not have all heard the same message.

  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message. If members of your group attend multiple campuses, be sure to recap the message from each campus.
  2. How did Sunday’s message confirm and/or correct your previous ideas related to the message topic?
  3. What did this tale from the wilderness teach you about God? 
  4. What did this tale from the wilderness teach you about humanity and sin? 
  5. How has this tale from the wilderness influenced your trust in God?
  6. In what ways can you apply today’s message to your life?


Mobilization Challenge

As a group, create your own mobilization challenge. Consider awareness challenges, service challenges, blessing challenges, or sharing/speaking challenges. As you complete your challenge, please share your experience at thechapel.com/shareyourexperience - we'd love to hear it!


Sermon Transcript

So in these messages, we're looking at stories from the life, the nation of Israel. As they left the imprisonment in Egypt, and they moved to the promised land, here, we have this time period in the middle, tales from the wilderness. And so from the point that they cross the Red Sea to right before they cross the Jordan and go into the promised land, we've got a number of episodes from the life of the nation of Israel that are instructive for us, even as we look back on them and see how God moved in those opportunities and in those situations. And in those episodes, not only was there something real happening, going on in that time, but those truths still speak to us today, and God uses these stories to teach us. And that's what we have hoped to do in this series, is we look at some various episodes from the life of Israel and ask all, "How does this affect our lives today?" So again, you'll be able to hear from a variety of different speakers than what we maybe normally hear from, and so I'm grateful to be able to be one of those contributors to this message series. So in this message today, I encourage you to grab a Bible, grab a notebook, maybe grab another cup of coffee, and dig into what God has to say to you, because it's no accident you're watching this message. God wants to say something directly to you right where you are. He sees you, He knows you, He loves you. So He's got something for you in this message. And we're really glad that you've joined us here today at The Chapel. If you have a Bible with you, please turn to Exodus chapter 15, we're gonna be starting in Exodus 15 this morning, as we begin a brand new series called Tales From the Wilderness. And what's unique about this series, and a few things that are unique about this series is that normally when we gather together on a Sunday morning at all four of our campuses, typically, we are all four campuses united under the preaching of God's word usually from this platform. And typically, that's pastor Jerry. Today, and for the rest of this month, what's unique about this series is that we have live communication happening at all four of our campuses. So myself, I'm the campus pastor at Niagara Falls, Pastor Edwin from Lockport, Pastor Leroy from Cheektowaga, Pastor Jerry who's obviously normally preaching here. We are all kind of rotating throughout all four campuses this series. So if you are prone to bounce between campuses, I would encourage you to sit tight for the rest of this month, because you're gonna end up seeing me again. All right? And I'm gonna be preaching the same exact message in another campus next week and another of the following. And there's no real guarantee that this message will get any better. All right? So just sit tight and stay at the Crosspoint Campus, and we'll be able to dive into God's word. As we come to these Tales From the Wilderness, and we will get to Exodus in just a second, maybe I could take your mind back to the 2000 film, "Castaway," where we saw our beloved Tom Hanks left in the wilderness on an island, and we weren't sure if he was gonna make it out. And we were all on the edge of our seats, and we even endured unprecedented lengths of silence in film, like, unprecedented amounts of dialogue-free sound in a movie, not since the silent era, I think had there been a film that had 80 minutes of dialogue-free moments, and "Castaway" had that, including, I think a 45-minute stretch. And we endured that without even thinking about it, because we wanted to see is Tom Hanks gonna get out okay? And is Wilson gonna make it with him? That's all we really wanted, right? That was the desire of our heart, was just to see that happen. And I'm not gonna spoil it for you, but you've had 22 years, so at this point, that's on you, okay? So as we look to the story of Exodus, and as as we look at the Tales From the Wilderness, here's what we're gonna be doing, we're gonna be pulling out episodes from the nation of Israel, as they left Egypt and they made their way to the promised land. And so these tales from the wilderness in between kind of from the crossing of the Red Sea, right up until the, right before they cross the Jordan and enter the promised land 40 years later, this is what we're going to be discussing, and we're gonna be looking at various scenes, tales from the wilderness over these next four Sundays. And so as we find ourselves in Exodus 15, I wanna take your attention to the 22nd verse. And here's the story from Exodus 15 beginning in verse 22, follow along with me. Just the first few verses. "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. When they came to Marah," or Morah, either one, I'm probably gonna say both depending on how fancy I'm feeling. All right, so, "When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. That is why the place is called Marah. So the people grumbled against Moses saying, "What are we to drink?" So they get to this place called Marah, and it's a three days journey from the Red Sea. Now, if you're maybe new to the Bible, or maybe you need a refresher course on what was happening at the Red Sea, the Israelites had just been in bondage in Egypt. As a people, they'd spent the last 400, some years in Egypt, many of which under cruel, forced labor and slavery. And so Moses leads them out of Egypt, and they come up to the Red Sea. Now, if you need a visual picture to jog your memory for this, I'll give you two different ones, depending on your generation who I'm talking to. So here's the first generational clue, Charlton Heston into 10 commandments. All right, and then here's the second one, Vel Kilmer, prince of Egypt, all right? And just as a pause, I wanna know the meeting that happened to cast Vel Kilmer as Moses. Hey guys, you know Iceman? What if he was in the Bible? Like, was that the pitch meeting? All right, so depending on your generation, Charlton Heston, 10 commandments, Val Kilmer, prince of Egypt, whichever one, we're all here now, say yes. Okay, good. So there're are up against a wall, really quite literally a wall of water, and Moses raises up his arms, Charlton Heston raises up his arms, all right? And Moses raises them up and he has the shepherd staff in his hand, and God parts the water. And they go across, the Israelites go across on dry ground. Not like a muddy swamp, but they go across on dry ground. Well, the Egyptians are giving haste, as you can imagine, because they regret this decision mightily, and Pharaoh is driving his army forward, and then the dry ground that was dry for the Israelites suddenly becomes cumbersome and problematic for the Egyptians and they get stuck in the mud. And then on the other side of the Red Sea, Moses moves his hands at the direction of God, the waters close up, the Egyptian army is destroyed, and the Israelites are standing on the other shore eyes open, they can't even believe what they just saw and they're free. So this is how the story begins. And as they're standing on the banks of the shore and they're literally just staring, they can't even believe what just happened, it had been 400 some years that as a people, they were stuck in Egypt, and now they're free? You know what happened? They broke out into song, because what else would you do after a moment like that? And it had probably been quite a while since they had a cause to sing. I'm not gonna show you the whole song, but if you had Exodus 15 open, your Bible might even have like, a heading at the top of it like mine does that says, "The Song of Moses and Miriam." What do they do? They start praising God. I'm just gonna give you a first couple verses from Exodus 15, look what it says. "Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord, "I will sing to the Lord, for He's highly exalted. Both horse and driver, he is hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense, He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him." So they break out into song because God is good, life is good, we're free as a nation. And they sing this song and Moses's sister Miriam, she sings her own version as well, and she gave the remix like, right away. She didn't even wait for it to be dropped, she just gave the remix. And she starts dancing and everybody's dancing and it, life is good. It's like, the 15th century BC version of like, Pharrell singing "Happy," right? Like, "Just clap along if you feel like a room without a roof." And that's what's going on on the shores of the Red Sea, my paraphrase. So when we come to this episode that I just showed you from Exodus 15:22, that's what makes it all the more startling, because maybe you caught it when we read it first, but if you didn't hear it as again, verse 22, "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." Three days, three days was all it took. Three days from the parting of the Red Sea. Now, I don't know about you, but if you've ever witnessed something incredible, like, magnificent, maybe it was an event that you went to, maybe it was a concert, like, your favorite artist, or your favorite comedian, or favorite Broadway production, or maybe it was a sports event that you just, it was like one of those historic moments that you were a part of. Have you ever been a part of those kinds of things? Well, what are you talking about three days later after that event? You're talking about that, right? Like, you're still talking about that thing, whatever that was. And if you went with like, a group of people, and you all had this shared experience together, what are you all talking about three days later? "Hey, remember when we saw that concert? Remember that show? Do you remember that part? You remember that joke? Do you remember that scene?" That's all you're talking about, and people do this, right? Even to this day, like, if I said to you and see if you're a Buffalo Bulls fan based on this statement alone. January 3rd, 1993, the greatest NFL comeback in history. This is now 29 years later, and people are still talking about it. In fact, the number of people who claim to have been at Rich Stadium on that day exceeds the seating capacity of Rich Stadium. But everybody was there for the comeback, they all saw Frank Reich. And guess what? When we see Frank Reich's picture on the screen, even though he's a coach for another team, guess what happens in our hearts? It's warmed. He's the comeback guy, right? See, 'cause when we have this amazing experience and we behold something that just exceeds our expectations and we're standing aghast like, "What just happened?" And we all share that together, "What are you talking about?" You're talking about that. And so it was three days after the parting of the Red Sea, what were they talking about? I would hope that they were still talking about, "Hey, remember the Red Sea thing? Hey, remember Pharaoh? Remember Egypt? Remember watching their army destroyed after 400 years, many of which were oppression? Hey, remember that? Remember what we saw God do?" Which is what makes it all the more heartbreaking as we read the story and as it proceeds, because what happens in verse 23? "When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter." Which by the way, this word Marah is bitter, that's what it means. So the people grumbled against Moses saying, "What are we to drink?" They got to Marah three days after the parting of the Red Sea, and now they're saying, "What are we to drink?" They grumble. They complain. All it took was three days. All it took was three days for them to forget about what they just saw God do. He showed up in this miraculous way, parted the Red Sea, delivered them from bondage, and now they get to one place, Marah, where the water is not drinkable. Now, it's important to note that this is not just like a preferential thing. Like, "You know, I'm more of a Poland spring kind of guy. You know, like, I'm not really a fan of Aquafina." Like, that's not what is happening here. It's not like a gen Z thing, like, "Yeah, I don't have my charcoal tablets." Like, it's none of that. Like, it wasn't drinkable. And so what happens in this moment is that they come face to face with their need, they run out of their provision, and they think that they're done. And all it took was three days. Three days ago, you were worried about too much water, the Red Sea, and God moved. Three days later, now you're worried about not enough water, and you grumble. This murmuring, this complaining, this grumbling becomes a pattern, becomes a theme in the story of the Exodus. The people complain, God intervenes, they rejoice, "We'll never do that again," then they come to another calamity, sometimes they cause their own. They are despondent, they complain, "What, did you bring us out here to die?" God steps in, they rejoice, "We'll never do that again." And on and on, this cycle repeats. But all it took here in Exodus 15 was three days for maybe what we could call wilderness amnesia. They forgot what God had done, so they grumbled. But what happens? What did Moses do? Now, what's interesting is unlike some other occasions and episodes in the story of Israel where, you know, Moses lets his anger out, or he chimes in with the grumbling too, that's not what happens in Exodus 15. Instead, Moses chooses the right response and it's it's recorded for us in verse 25, here's just the first part, "Then Moses cried out to the Lord," that's it. 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. He cried out to God, and God showed him what to do. God healed the water. He sustained His people. Moses cried out to the Lord. Now, this story, I wanna be clear, is not about, well, what kind of wood was it? Or tree, some translation say, or log, well, what kind of tree was it? Did it have some medicinal property? You know, like, what was going on? That's not the point of the story. The point of the story is this, Moses cried out and the Lord showed up. Moses cried out to God, the Lord showed him what to do. The people grumble, Moses prays. The people complain, Moses cries out. The people antagonize, Moses asks for help. This is the point of the story, he turned to the right source. And so after the water becomes sweet, after they're able to finally take a drink and be refreshed, God gives some instruction. Here it is the second part of verse 25 and 26, "There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and He put them to the test. 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. I am Yaweh Rafi, or Jehovah Rafi. The God who heals, I am your healer." He says, "If you listen, if you hack into my voice, if you do what I say, if you demonstrate your allegiance to me, then you'll never have to worry. You'll never have to worry about the fate that befell the Egyptians. If you just stay close to me, I will carry you, for I am your healer." And our text says that the Lord put them to the test, or He tested them, and you might be thinking, "Can God do that? Like, that doesn't seem very kind of Him to test His people, that he would test them?" Well, let's not conflate test with tempt, because to tempt is to get someone to sin, to tempt is holding out the opportunity of unrighteousness. "Wouldn't this be nice? Here it is dangling in front of you." But to test is to provide an opportunity for righteousness. To test is to provide a proving ground for doing the right thing. The test is to assure us of our decision to follow God. The test is to teach our soul's muscles what to do. The test is for righteousness, the tempting is for unrighteousness, but the test is to do what is good, to do what is right. And the reason I say that is not just to draw a distinction or split hairs, but because the scripture says as much. In fact, even if we just stayed within the book of Exodus, and look at Exodus chapter 20 in the giving of the 10 commandments, Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid, God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." Why does God issue the test? To keep you from sinning. That's the opposite of temptation, to keep you in sin, to keep you going on in sin. But the point of the test is so that the fear of God will rest on you, and it will keep you from sinning. It'll keep you away from a path of self destruction. So God issues this test, because he doesn't want His people to follow the same fate of the Egyptians. He doesn't want His people, Israel to continue on in a path of self-destruction and rebellion that led to the demise of Pharaoh in all of his army. And when you think about it, when you press in on this story, just a little bit, you sit with it for just a moment longer, you recognize that what happened at Marah is almost an inverse of the first plague in Egypt. And I wonder if that's what God was doing to get their attention. Because remember in Egypt, the Nile River, the sweet waters from which all of the nation drank, and they grew their produce, they watered their land, they fed their animals, they drank from themselves. This was their source. In fact, they didn't just revere the Nile, they worshiped the Nile, the Egyptians did. And so what is the first plague that God uses in Egypt to shake loose Pharaoh's false sense of ownership over Israel? He disrupts their water source. He turns the sweet waters bitter. The Nile becomes blood. The water's undrinkable. This is the first plague. In our story, the water's bitter and it becomes sweet. In the first plague, the water is sweet and it becomes undrinkable. And I almost wonder, and this is maybe just my conjecture, but I almost wonder if at any point an Egyptian cried out to Pharaoh, "What are we to drink? What are we gonna drink? This? We can't drink this, this' all blood. We can't drink it, what are we to drink?" I wonder if in that plague, which lasted seven days, if at any point in time, an Egyptian said, "What are we to drink?" And Israel heard it, but I wonder if they heard themselves at Marah. And I wonder if it hit them at any point in time, "We're just echoing our Egyptian neighbors. We sound just like them. We don't sound any different. Pharaoh, what are we to drink? Moses, what are we to drink?" And I wonder if the irony hit them, that what they were doing sounded exactly like the Egyptians. It's almost like you would wonder, you could take the man out of Egypt, but you can't take the Egypt out of the man, maybe. Maybe that was on their minds, maybe that was some of what was going on, but see their wilderness amnesia didn't just lead them to forget about God's goodness at the Red Sea, but they forgot about His judgment in Egypt. They forgot about His judgment as well. So maybe God brought them to Marah to leave Egypt behind for good. Maybe He brought them so that the old wouldn't come with them any further. Thus, I would say it's actually His grace that He brought them to Marah, you might think that's crazy to say, but I wonder if maybe God wanted Israel to see just how far they'd come, how far He had brought them, if I could be more specific. Because the story of the Exodus actually begins with this recap of the nation of Israel, how they even got to Egypt, and it talks about how a new Pharaoh rose up, who didn't know Joseph, or the things that he had done to save like, the nation and the world. And it says this in Exodus chapter one, look with me verses 12 through 14, "But the more they were oppressed," that is the Israelites, "the more theymultiplied and spread, so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar, and with all kinds of work in the fields. In all their harsh labor, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly." They made their lives Marah, same word, they made their lives bitter. And I wonder if perhaps what God was saying to the Israelites through this story, through this episode is, do you remember where I've brought you from? You're on the other side of the Red Sea, but you're still acting like you're in Egypt. You've been delivered, but you act like you're still in bondage. You sound exactly the same. Do you remember what I've done for you?" So back in our text in Exodus 15, God issues this test to keep them from sinning, that's what He wants for them. He is Yaweh Rafi, the healer, and then verse 27 says this, "Then," the next thing, immediately, "then they came to Elim, where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees. And they camped there near the water." They came to Elim, which means palms. And if there's anything good about a palm tree and the wilderness, is that it provides shade, rest, rejuvenation, refreshment. And yes, there are 12 springs of water here. Now at first glance, obviously, like, "Man, we just went from one stream that we couldn't drink from, to now we've got 12, that's a pretty good return. That's a really great improvement from where we were at Marah now that we're at Elim." But it's not coincidental, it's not accidental that Moses includes these numbers here, that he does, 12 and 70. There's 12 springs and 70 palm trees. Now, here's what's interesting about that. Again, let me take you back to the beginning of Exodus, Exodus chapter one, first five verses as says this, "These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family, Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher." 11, next slide. The descendants of Jacob numbered 70 in all, and Joseph was already in Egypt. On the way in, 12 sons, 70 descendants, 12 and 70. On the way out, 12 springs, 70 palm trees, 12 and 70 on the way in, 12 and 70 on the way out. What Moses records these numbers for, I think is the lesson that he picked up on. What God wanted His people to know is, "I see you. I've got you. I'm in control. I'm leading you. I haven't forgotten you. I know exactly where you started, and I know exactly where I'm taking you, 12 and 70 on the way in 12 and 70 on the way out, you are my beloved possession, will you trust me? Will you believe that I actually know what's best for you? That I would pay attention to something as minute as how many palm trees and how many springs that I've prepared for you on your journey." There's much for us to learn in this story, isn't there? Because for us, it's probably not gonna be long, and we probably have plenty of stories if we all went around, that we've often found ourselves at Marah, we've often found ourselves in the bitter place. Now, maybe we're not literally walking through the wilderness or "Castaway." We're not drinking from a bitter stream, but we've found ourselves at Marah more than once. And as we look at the story of Israel and their wilderness amnesia, sometimes I think we would recognize that we too, we forget God in the bitter place. And we say things like, "It's easy to forget God in the bitter place." We say things like, "Where is God in all of this?" We find ourselves there. Maybe it's the loss of what was, or the grief of what never will be. Maybe it's everything going right for somebody else, or everything going wrong for you, or both at the exact same time. Maybe it's the death of someone you love. Maybe it's being passed over and forgotten yet again. But if you're not in the bitter place right now, I want you to think back to the last time you were. I want you to think back to the last Marah that you encountered. And what was going on in your life? Well, if it's anything like my experiences, which I don't mean to project, but if it's anything like mine, I've talked to enough of you to know that there's some similarities, that is that this bitter place becomes all we can see. Our field of vision becomes dominated by Marah. And so we can't look ahead to what God's gonna do, and we can't even really look back because we have trouble remembering what He has done. And so we become all consumed with the bitter place right in front of us, and we feel stuck. We feel trapped. We feel like this is all there is, and this is all there's ever gonna be. Now, perspective would tell us we know better, but in the midst of it, no amount of someone saying, "Well, just think about brighter things, just look down the road, I'm sure there's a silver lining," that doesn't help when you're in the bitter place. That falls flat. So when we experience, not, if, when we experience the bitter place, and even let me go so far as to assume, when we experience wilderness amnesia, when we find ourselves there, what's the cure? What's the cure for wilderness amnesia? Let me offer up to you a few things to consider before we leave today. Here's the first, document God's faithfulness. Document God's faithfulness. In the fairytale, "Hansel and Gretel," which if you read it, is actually pretty haunting, and not like a fairytale, but let's just go with that title for now. In "Hansel and Gretel," the brother, the sister, they're journeying through the woods, and Hansel has the idea to leave bread crumbs for them on the path so that they will know how to get back home, which is a great idea in a pre-GPS story. But the problem with Hansel's plan is that he uses bread crumbs and nothing more permanent than that, and so the birds quickly snatch away the crumbs, and then they're lost in the woods, and then it gets weirder after that, all right. But here's the principle that I think is important. It's a really great idea to leave yourself bread crumbs so that you know how to get back, so that you know how to get home, but let's use something a bit more permanent than bread, document God's faithfulness. As you journey through life, leave yourself spiritual bread crumbs so that when you wake up in the wilderness, and you have forgotten about what God has done for you, you will have a quick accessible record of His past track record of faithfulness that you can consult. And you will do yourself a favor, current you will do future you a favor. And future you will thank present tense you for doing what you've done, you follow? Now, you don't have to do what I do, but let me tell you what I do. And it's two things, and I'm not a journaler, I'm not like a "Dear diary, here's what happened today, it was 82 degrees and I ate three hot dogs again." You know, that's not what I'm doing, okay? But two things, and you don't have to do these things, but these are mine, you figure out yours, a Bible that you can write in, and a notebook of some kind to recap something about the day. Now, I had to retrain myself in this, because I'm a type A personality, which is just a nice way of saying neurotic, and I don't like to write in books. I don't like to loan out books 'cause I don't know what you're gonna do to 'em. And I don't know where you're gonna take 'em. And I want my book back in as pristine condition as I gave it out, all right? When I was in college, and it would come time to like, sell back the textbooks, remember that? Okay, I don't know if they still do that, it's all on iPad, I don't know, whatever, you sell back your iPad. Okay, but we used to sell back our textbooks, which were bound pages of paper, for those of you that are in gen Z. All right, so we would sell back our textbooks, and I would always get way more money back than anyone else in my class, because my books looked like they hadn't been touched. And in the case of the biology textbook, it hadn't, so that was perfect. So the idea of like, this Bible that I'm preaching from right now has no markings in it at all, 'cause it has to be perfect, and clear, and clean. And I just wanna see the text, all right? So I had to retrain myself because I was so frustrated by the fact that there was so many times that I was reading God's word and I felt like, man, the light bulb went on for me. And like, later that night, I couldn't even remember what I read. I was so frustrated by that like, man, this is like, God is speaking right through His word right now at 6:05 AM, and by 6:05 PM, I don't even know what day it is. And so I said, I'm not gonna waste, I'm not gonna be a poor steward of the lessons God's teaching me. So I read my Bible with a pen in my hand. And since according to this page, March 22nd, 2011, I've carried up this now taped Bible, and when I am reading and God speaks to me, I write it down. When He illuminates something in His word that has always been there and has never changed, and I've read it a thousand times and I've heard a million sermons on, but He illuminates it through His spirit, I wanna be a good steward of that, so I write it down. And just for fun, just in case you were curious, the 12 and 70 observation, I wrote down in February of 2021, these numbers have to be on purpose. 12 sons of Jacob, 70 Israelites, now on their way out, it's 12 and 70 again. So people ask me, how long does it take you to write a sermon? Like, a year and a half. But I don't wanna miss it if God's speaking. So that's one thing I do, and it's just a note here and there, it's not every day. But the second thing I do, my wife bought me this five-year journal. And it has just enough lines for me not to be overwhelmed by the idea of writing down something. And just a sentence or two, and it's so I can see, you know, July 10th, 2021, 2020, and on and on for five years. And just last month, the night before Father's Day, Which was June 18th, I wrote down what we did that day and you know, whatever funny thing my son said, and then I just thought, "You know, I'm gonna look ahead, tomorrow's Father's Day, let me see what we did last year on Father's Day." Couldn't remember. And I wrote down in June 20th, 2021, "Father's Day." First Sunday back at the regal, "What an incredible day!" And if you don't know, our Niagara Falls Campus launched out of a regal. And then there was this global pandemic, if you didn't hear. And the regal was shut down for 15ish months. And what just happened now was what exactly what happened last month. There's nothing altogether astounding about those words on a page, but what God does with those words is up to Him. And I was flooded with gratitude, remembering that after 15 months of our campus not having a space to gather in, we were back at the Regal Father's Day, 2021. And it reminded me of His faithfulness. He's got it, he sees you, that's the first thing. The second thing is, remember the reasons to praise. Remember the reasons to praise. Because this experience of Marah is not unique to Israel, and it's not unique to you and me, it's true to the human experience. We shouldn't be surprised when we find other examples of it, even in the scripture. So one of the som writers, Asaph, he wrote this in Psalm 77, look at this. "I cried out to God for help, I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord. At night, I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted." That is to say nothing would comfort me. Verse 10, then I thought, "To this, I will appeal, the years when the Most High stretched out His right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds." And then he addresses God personally, "Your ways, God are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles. You display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph." What happened in as Asaph's life? He was up at night, he was stressed, he was unable to be comforted, he couldn't get to sleep, and then he's struggling and then he's struggling and he's struggling and he's kind of descending and he's kind of despondent. And then all of a sudden, he says, "Yes, I know what I'll do. I'll remember what God has done. I'll remind myself of His mighty deeds." You see why documenting His faithfulness is important? And then he starts to praise Him, "You alone are God, what god is like you?" You see, remembering leads to praising, but when you're in the bitter place, it sometimes feels like we don't have a song to sing. It sometimes feels like we don't have anything we can even utter. And when you're in a real valley, I get it, 'cause I've been there too. Sometimes the last thing you wanna do is be around happy people when you're in Marah, so I get it if you stay away for a little while. But if you stay away for too long, you're making a grave mistake. Because one of the best things for our souls, one of the best things for our souls when we're in the bitter place is to remember the reason we praise Him in the first place. One of the worst things for our souls is to stay away from the environment of praise. To stay away from the community of believers, who we can join in our feeble voices with their strong ones. And guess what? Next year, someone else's feeble voice will join in with our strong ones. We remember the reasons we have to praise, and there's so many. Here's the third thing to do, camp by the living water. Then they came to Elim where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees and they camped there near the water. Camped by the living water, and here's what I mean, spend time with the only one who can quench your thirsty soul. We don't have time to journey through just some highlights from the gospel of John, but if I had time, I'd take you to John 4, with the woman at the well. And who asks, and Jesus asks her for a drink, even though she's the one who's in need. If we had time, I would take you to John 5, where there's a pool that people believe if they could get in the pool, they'd be healed, and Jesus heals them anyway. Or in John 6 where there's a body of water and Jesus walks all over it. And in John 7, when Jesus stands up in the temple and says, "If anyone's thirsty, let 'em come to me and drink." So this water theme is prominent in John, but it's in the middle of that sequence in John 4, five, six, seven, when Peter, excuse me, when Jesus says some really hard things, and some people leave, some disciples kind of on the fringes of these, you know, they were just there for the party, they leave. And Jesus turns to the disciples and says, "Are you gonna leave too?" And Peter responds, "You have the words of life, where are we gonna go? You alone have the words of life, where else are we gonna turn? What other well are we gonna drink from?" Spend time daily with the one who can quench your thirst. Fill up the reservoir of truth in your heart, so that when you walk into the bitter place, the spirit of God has something to ignite within you. He has a well to draw from, because remember what Jesus promised in John 14, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I've said to you. Peace, I leave with you, my peace, I give you. I don't give to you as the world gives. Don't let your hearts be troubled and don't be afraid." What's the spirit's job? To remind you. And as Pastor Jerry has often encouraged us, some of us need to actually give the spirit something to work with, because if we don't spend time in His word, what's there to be reminded of? You gotta be minded first before you can be reminded. Spend time camped by the living water, dwell there. And then a fourth thing, surround yourself with a community of truth. Surround yourself with a community of truth. When you're in the bitter place, who's speaking into your life? What narratives are you hearing as a result? Who reminds you of what God has done? Who teaches you? Who admonishes you? Who encourages you? Who have you surrounded yourself with? And are they pointing you in the direction of God can be trusted. But maybe I could ask you to consider what's at stake if we don't do this. If we don't document His faithfulness and remember all these reasons we have to praise and we don't surround ourself with a community, and we don't spend time with God who can quench our thirst. We don't camp by the living water. What's at stake if we don't? We start to define, eventually, we start to define our lives by the Marah experiences, instead of seeing them as stops on the way to Elim. We start to rewrite the narrative of who God is. And we allow these bitter places to become the predominant theme instead of incidental episodes on the way to refreshment. How do I know? Well, as I already told you, this grumbling problem was a problem for Israel. 40 years after Marah, look what Moses said in Deuteronomy 1. This is 40 years after, "But you were unwilling to go up, you rebelled against the command of the Lord, your God. You grumbled in your tents, and you said, "The Lord hates us. The Lord hates us, that's why He brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. It's because God hates us, that's why he delivered us from Egypt." Do you see how they rewrote the script? You see how they reinterpreted the truth? You see how they flipped the narrative about who God was based on their bitter experiences? You see your wilderness amnesia and mine? It can lead us if we're not careful to forget, and maybe even at a point suppress the truth about who God is. It will lead us further and further away from the life that God offers to us. When we allow this to be just the defining story, instead of a stop on the way to Elim, when this becomes all we see, and we allow our field of vision to be dominated by this, and don't have any other truth inputs to correct the lies. We will end up in a spot like Israel, where we'll say, "It's because God hates me. God doesn't love me. God's forgotten me, or there is no God." It will destroy any memory of His goodness and faithfulness until all you see is Marah, but that's not who God is. We have a tendency to rewrite the narrative, but let me offer to you in closing the truth of the narrative. God is not detached from the bitter places of our lives. He is not a deistic, detached, uninterested, uninvolved, remote God. He is a God who steps into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. That just as God had said to Israel, if you will listen to my voice, and obey my commands, and do what I say, they didn't, Jesus did. Jesus lived a sinless and perfect life, but He was executed on a cross, and both literally and figuratively, He tasted the bitterness of death. The figure was they offered him a sponge that was to act as an anesthetic to take away his pain, and it was bitter. He refused that bitterness because he was going to embrace the full bitterness of death that sin deserved. He would not be numbed to it. He would take it on fully and willingly because no one took his life from him, he willingly laid it down. And He willingly laid it down so that after three days, He could willingly take it up again and taste the sweetness of resurrection, and now extend that to us all who would believe in Him that He tasted bitterness so that we didn't have to. And He offers us the sweetness of fellowship with Him and life forever more in His name. That is who God is. So don't rewrite the story as if God doesn't know what bitter tastes like, He knows it more than I ever will. And He offers up His hand, "I'm your healer, I'll take it all. I'll take your brokenness. I'll take your pain. I'll take your sin. I'll take your rebellion. I'll take your inadequacy. I'll take your weakness. I am your healer." When you come to the bitter place, the healer meets you there. So today you heard a story, a true story from the nation of Israel, and what God did in and through these circumstances. And now my question is having heard it, what will you do with it? Just like James admonishes and encourages us in James 1, not to just be hearers of the word and so deceive ourselves, but to be doers of the word, to put it into practice. We've now looked into the perfect mirror of God's word, and now what are we gonna apply as a result? I encourage you to take time and leave space for God to speak to you along those lines. But maybe for some of you, your first step is actually to surrender your life to Jesus, to follow Him. And in this message, even though we were looking at the story of Israel, I hope that you heard, and you saw the story of Jesus in the midst of it as well. That God loves you so much that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, who willingly gave His life as an offering for your sin and my sin. Though he was sinless, He took all of our sin guilt on Himself, and He did that, providing this sacrifice that covered the debt of our sin. He covered that debt with his own life's blood, but he didn't stay dead, He rose from the dead, conquering sin, and hell, and death, the grave itself, and that now, forever, those who believe in Him will not perish, will not continue on a path of self-destruction, but in Him will have an eternal kind of life that starts right now and continues on forever. This is the gospel. And if you know that your greatest need is to follow Jesus, then we'd love to help you jumpstart that journey right now. So would you reach out to us? You've just heard from us, now we'd like to hear from you. So would you call us, or reach out to us through our website? You can give us a call at 631-2636, or you can go to our website, thechapel.com/knowingJesus. And that information will be on the screen so that you can make sure you jot it down and follow up with us as soon as possible. Someone from our team's gonna reach out and follow back up once we've heard from you, and we would love to pray with you and pray for you. Wanna encourage you, let you know you got some people in your corner who are excited about what God's doing in your life. And we also wanna help you with a few resources, maybe to give you a Bible that you can read and understand that's written in plain, simple English. It doesn't feel like you're reading Shakespeare. Or maybe it's a devotional booklet that we've put together called "Your First Week as a Disciple," 'cause that's what you are. You're a disciple of Jesus, a follower of Christ. And as those would be our gift to you, no strings attached, you're not signing up for anything that you don't wanna sign up for. You're not joining The Chapel right now or anything like that. We're not gonna be spaming you every single week. And we're not even asking you for any donation in return. We want to help you and give you what you need to follow Christ, and that's what we're all about. So again, 631 2636, whichever side of the border you're calling us from, we'd love to hear from you, or thechapel.com/knowingJesus, and that applies to you the same. So we look forward to hearing from you real soon. Now, on behalf of all of us here at The Chapel, thanks so much for joining us for this weekly broadcast of The Chapel's worship gathering. And as we journey through this series, Tales From the Wilderness, maybe you'd even be able to join us in person in a Sunday in a not too distant future for one of our future message series upcoming. You can find us in one of four locations here in Western New York, because we're The Chapel, one church that meets in multiple locations. So we have campuses in Cheektowaga, Getzville, that's our Crosspoint Campus, Lockport, and Niagara Falls. And if you don't already have a church to call home, and please hear me clearly on this, if you don't already have a church to call home, we'd love to see you on a Sunday. If you do already have a place to call home, that's your home church, stay where you are, stay plugged in, in fact, up the ante of your investment in that local church, you're needed in the body of Christ. So we're never pulling you away from that. We need the whole church to bring the whole gospel to the whole region, the whole nation. So we need to be all all in wherever we are as followers of Christ. But if you're looking for a church, you just move to this area, or you're like, "I don't know where to turn." Just know that you're always welcome here at The Chapel. If you'd like to stream our services live each and every Sunday, just maybe you can't quite get to us in person just yet, you can do that at thechapel.com/live. Of course, we'll be right here on this channel, the same time, same day, next week as well. So wherever our paths are gonna cross next, we look forward to seeing you real soon, thanks.

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