October 9-13


And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there. – Numbers 20:1 (ESV)

In Between the Bitter and Better: A Familiar Place
There is a story about a man named Gary Tindle who was charged with robbery. While standing in the California courtroom of Judge Armando Rodriguez, Tindle asked permission to go to the bathroom. He was escorted upstairs, and the door was guarded while he was inside. But Tindle, determined to escape, climbed up the plumbing, opened a panel in the ceiling, and started slithering through the crawl space, heading south. He had traveled some 30 feet when the ceiling panels broke under him, and he dropped to the floor, right back into the courtroom of Judge Armando Rodriguez. He was right back where he started.

In Numbers 20:1, the nation of Israel is right back where it started. They are now back at Kadesh where they had rebelled as a nation and were cursed to wander for 40 years. Now, not only does the nation rebel again, but now Moses and Aaron rebel and as a result, they too are prohibited from entering the promised land.

There is an old saying what goes around comes around. Israel had come full circle and they were back at the place where they left the will of God. Where you leave the will of God will often be the place where you get back on track. Can you think of a time when your disobedience brought you full circle?

Praise God for having a perfect and beautiful will for your life. If you have departed from God’s will, return to Him today in prayer and confession.


“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” – Numbers 20:8 (ESV)

In Between the Bitter and Better: An Important Picture
At one time, Josef Stalin had been a seminary student, preparing for the ministry. Coming of Nietzschean age, he made a decisive break from his belief in God. This dramatic and complete reversal of conviction that resulted in his hatred for all religion is why Lenin had earlier chosen Stalin and positioned him in authority—a choice Lenin too later regretted. (The name Stalin, which means “steel,” was not his real name, but was given to him by his contemporaries who fell under the steel-like determination of his will.) According to Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin, as Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead. His one last gesture was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel.

God bringing water from a hard rock was an important picture of the hardness of the hearts of Israel. God told Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock. This picture was to shame the people who had been so often spoken to and would not hear or obey. Their hearts were harder than this rock.

The signs of a hard heart are areas of disobedience to God in our lives. Often, the longer we disobey, the harder our hearts become. Can you think of an area of your life where you once had more spiritual sensitivity?

Thank God for the times when He has blessed you even though you were not where you should be spiritually. Ask God to soften any areas of your heart that have become hardened to spiritual things.


Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. – Numbers 20:24 (ESV)

In Between the Bitter and Better: A Serious Problem
According to the authors of the book, Significa, the world’s champion complainer was a man named Ralph Charrell. Charrel received over $100,000 as a result of his systematic complaining. His smallest refund was $6.95 and his largest was $25,000. Charrel spent time every day making phone calls and writing letters of complaint. He even wrote two books, How to Get the Upper Hand and How I Turn Ordinary Complaints into Thousands of Dollars. While we all have the right to stand up for ourselves, would you want to be known as the “World’s Champion Complainer”? Wouldn’t it be better to be the “World’s Champion Encourager”? (J. Michael Shannon)

Numbers 20 teaches us that complaining is a serious problem with serious consequences. Meribah means place of strife or quarreling. This name is used for two places, both sites of Moses' striking a rock, the first being at the beginning of the 40 years of wandering and the second place also called Meribah in the desert of Zin near Kadesh, near the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering when Moses and Aaron disobeyed God and instead of speaking to the rock, in anger struck the rock twice. The Lord told Aaron and Moses that they would not enter the Promised Land because of their failure to obey Him.

Complaining can cause us to miss out on God’s best and God’s blessings. Hebrews 3:7-8 warns, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,     on the day of testing in the wilderness.” Hebrews 3:13 gives us practical help and says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Who do you know that needs encouragement from a hard heart?

Thank God for the people in your life who encourage you and help keep your heart soft toward God. Ask God to lead you to someone who needs to be encouraged today by the promises of God.


“See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 1:21 (ESV)

In Between the Bitter and Better: A Renewed Promise Pt.1
Frances Havergal, the noted hymn writer, loved the Word of God and the God of the Word. As she was dying at the early age of forty-three, Havergal asked a friend who was standing by her bed to read to her from the forty-second chapter of Isaiah. When the friend was reading the sixth verse, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you…” Then she stopped her friend from reading any further. With a voice barely above a whisper, she said: “CALLED—HELD BY HIS HAND—KEPT. I can go home on that!” And she did go home on that as she closed her eyes and went home to be with her Savior.” (Kent Trent)

In Deutermony 1:21, Moses tried to reassure the nation of Israel that God had given His Word of promise. He was faithful and His Word could be trusted. They had the choice to either believe or not believe which is the same choice all of us continually face. Israel chose not to believe in God’s promise. God would later renew this promise after 40 years of waiting.

What are some of your favorite promises from God’s Word? Which promises do you struggle to believe the most?

Thank God for calling you, holding you, and keeping His promises to you. Ask God to give you the faith to believe the promises you struggle the most to believe.


“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” – Joshua 1:5 (ESV)

In Between the Bitter and Better: A Renewed Promise Pt. 2
A little boy in Sunday School interrupted his teacher as he told about David and Goliath. He explained how brave David was to face the giant Goliath. The little boy said, “David was not the brave one. Goliath was.” “Why do you say that?” the teacher asked. The little boy explained, “Goliath had to go out and face David alone, but David had God with him.” And so do we. As we do what God tells us to do, we have the assurance that He is there with us. (Source Unknown)

In the book of Joshua, God renews His promise to give Israel the Promised Land. With that promise, God promised Himself. God promised Joshua that He would go with Him and Joshua would have nothing to fear. The only ones who needed to be afraid were the enemies of God.

Whose presence has meant the most to you when you have faced challenging situations in the past? Just as God was with Moses and Joshua, His Holy Spirit is in you and with you today if you are a Christian. How should that promise affect your fears?

Praise God for the power and promise of His presence. Ask God to show you where He wants to lead you next.