I once heard a comedian say, “The problem with the lessons of history is we never learn the lessons of history.” These primal days of Israel’s history as a nation liberated from bondage are far from glorious. Murmuring, doubting, hollering, “Back to Egypt!” The popular saying holds: “It is easier to take the people out of Egypt than to take Egypt out of the people.”
Looking back on the Exodus, Paul says, “God was not pleased.” How fantastic are we? We have the ability to please or to displease God. We matter to God that much.
Paul, living in cities, points to the wilderness—a real place also symbolic of the parched soul, the dryness of the spirit. Paul tries to comfort his readers: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common.” But the commonality is still tough. The powers of the world lure us away from God. Yet God trusts us enough to place us in tough spots believing we might trust in God to provide our way of escape.
Jesus, who overcomes temptations that would undo any of us, buttresses us with the grace and strength required to stand and not be undone. We should not think of temptation as garden-variety attractions in the world. Oswald Chambers suggested that “Temptation . . . is the thing we are bound to meet if we are [human]. Many of us suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer, simply because we have refused to let God lift us to a higher plane where we would face temptations of another order. . . . [Our] disposition on the inside . . . determines what [we are] tempted by on the outside.”* Despite the inevitability of temptation, Paul assures us that God provides the way for us to overcome it.
*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1927), September 17.
Lord, my temptations reveal how thin my soul is. Forgive me; empower me to please you. Amen.
In the midst of Lent, when many might be giving up a certain food that they love, we read about feasting. The focus is not on physical feasting, but on feasting as a metaphor for communing with God. Isaiah describes food and drink that one cannot buy with money, for it comes freely from the Lord. The psalmist describes the state of his soul as being hungry and thirsty. Only meditating on God’s faithfulness nourishes his soul at the deepest level. Physical food is momentary, but spiritual nourishment endures. In First Corinthians, Paul appeals to this imagery. Although the ancients experience this spiritual nourishment, some pursue physical pleasure and stray into idolatry and immorality. Partaking in this nourishment should cause us in turn to produce spiritual fruit, as Jesus admonishes his listeners.
Read Isaiah 55:1-9. When has God’s grace inverted your expectations?
Read Psalm 63:1-8. As you mature in faith, what new questions about God do you ask?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Think of a time you have faced great temptation. How did God help you endure it?
Read Luke 13:1-9. For what do you need to repent?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.