Doing What Works

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Doing What Works

Exodus 17:1–7

Water from the Rock[1]

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Matthew 21:23–32

The Authority of Jesus Questioned[2]

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

There always at least two ways to do anything. Most of the time, along with those law enforcement officers playing good cop, bad cop, we break it down into two categories: the easy way and the hard way.


It would seem that the best answer is to always choose the easy way. Indeed, that is what the interrogators would want us to believe. However, that logic does not always play out.

If you want to gain physical strength, is it better to take the long winding path of regular exercise, building up slowly over time OR to take steroids or other hormonal supplements to boost muscle creation?

If you want to become a musician, is it better to just focus on learning the songs you want to play by ear, learning what you want to be able to perform quicker OR to take the much more difficult path of learning music notation, theory, and learning all the classics so you will someday be able to play anything you see or hear?

When it comes to marriage, is it just easier to have your parents or guardians choose your mate OR take the long and winding path of traveling the world, discovering who you are, and finding someone you believe you can spend the rest of your life with?

Don’t give me that simpler is always better business. Sometimes we actually show up because we want the scenic tour.Tweet: Don't give me that simpler is always better business. Sometimes we actually show up because we want the scenic tour.

God knows that about us. That’s why sometimes we get the water from the rock, instead of just being led to a stream. We get it into our heads that “streams just happen” and “we deserve them every so many miles”. Sometimes God has to take us back and show us exactly how a stream gets started in the first place and remind us of the miracle that every stream is.

That’s what trips everyone up about Jesus as well. He doesn’t take the wide, easy path. When he was interrogated, He chose the hard way instead of the easy way. Then He asked us to follow Him. That is always easier said than done.

When we are tempted to simply do what works, Jesus calls us to do what is right.Tweet: When we are tempted to simply do what works, Jesus calls us to do what is right.

Do you struggle more with wanting to know where you are going or wanting to know who you are following?

Do you find yourself taking the easy way or the hard way more often? Why?

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  1. (Num 20:1–13)  ↩
  2. (Mk 11:27–33; Lk 20:1–8)  ↩

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