1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Reflection: Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.
The idea of judgment from God is sometimes difficult for us to think about. We are in a love-saturated religious culture and messages of judgment seem to be out of date. It is good that we have recaptured the love of God and emphasize love within the Church. After all, John affirms that God is love (1 John 4:8). But too often, we speak of love without also speaking of responsibility within those acts of love. Devotion shows love. Too often we can say we love someone, but if we are not devoted to them in action, our verbal affirmations of love can ring hollow.
Paul is reminding the Corinthians of their responsibilities in love. In just a few chapters, Paul is going to remind them of the foundational character of love in the Christian life – naming it the only enduring characteristic! Still, he wants their love to be grounded in holy living. Therefore, a trip down memory lane is necessary to remind the Corinthians of the struggles with devotion that the people of God have experienced through the ages. The history of Israel is replete with idolatry and sin. And though it is difficult to read about God’s judgment of that sin, we learn a whole lot about what not to do by reading about and remembering those events and God’s reaction to those events.
I do not believe that God wants us to fear judgment. I do believe, however, that God wants to keep us from those things that would destroy us. And I know that God will honor our choices. If we choose God’s life-giving ways, then we will find life. If we choose sin and isolation from God, then we will find death and destruction. God will not force us into a life-giving relationship with him. It is not so much that God is waiting to punish us, as it is that sin has consequences.
What can we learn from past generations and their experiences of unfaithfulness? How can we lay foundations of goodness and holiness for the generations who will come after us? Several times in the Old Testament, God warns the people not to become a proverb or a taunt. In other words, do not let your life become a warning to others that details the negative effects of sin. Instead, be a person who mentors others, who shows what a positive life in Christ can look like. Be someone’s spiritual friend, walk alongside them on the way, pass your wisdom down to a new generation of Christ-followers, and help lift them up to new spiritual heights.
Journaling Focus: All ate the same spiritual food…
I have been reading Ezekiel recently and in one scene in the book God tells Ezekiel to eat a scroll with his words on it. The scroll, Ezekiel recalls, tastes as sweet as honey. God’s Word sustains us like food when we are hungry – hungry for truth, hungry for spiritual intimacy, hungry for comfort. Write about a time in which the Word of God sustained you through a period of spiritual hunger. What passages of Scripture nourished you significantly? Have you developed different “tastes” for Scripture as you have matured in your faith? How might you start a healthy “diet” of reading Scripture for daily nourishment?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
These questions are designed to help make sense of the message of Scripture. They are not designed to overwhelm, but to enlighten. Do not feel as if you need to answer all – or even most – of these questions every week. Perhaps pick one or two that will help you explore the Scripture and its message more deeply.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passage teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Listen to the song, Desert Song. This song is quite powerful and appropriate for the season of Lent. We are reminded of God’s power and the sufficiency of God’s grace when we face struggles and spiritual wildernesses. Through it all, regardless of our weakness, we can bring praise. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Perhaps you or someone you know is facing a difficult trial that threatens to negatively affect their faith. Yet it is only faith that can sustain us during such trials! Ask God to give you (or them) strength as you experience this struggle. Trust that God will provide the way of victory and deliverance. Above all, pray for grace, knowing that our God is abundantly gracious!
Meditation Focus: For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
Imagine within you a great spring or waterfall, in which the water flows freely and never runs dry. At the source of this spring is Christ, opening up his heart and arms to you in love. Go and drink from these waters. What does the water taste like? How does it satisfy you? As you drink it, notice how parched you are within – perhaps there are portions of your soul that have not taken a drink from the spring for a long time. Allow the waters to rush over you, too, as you remember the power of the waters of baptism that have flowed over you since you experienced that sacrament. Sit with the refreshing presence of God and be filled and satisfied.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- Where do you see God’s judgment?
- Where do you see God’s grace?
- How have you shown your devotion to God?
- In what ways have you depended on God for strength and spiritual nourishment?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Holy Action: And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
Negativity can be extremely poisonous to the Church and to the Christian spirit in general. Live a complaint-free week. Ask God to make you mindful of the ways in which you respond negatively to others. Then, practice uplifting speech and actions. Listen, encourage, and comfort. What affect doe sit have on you and those around you when you deal positively with others and the world around you?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, show us your ways.