The AMI QT Devotionals from April 1-7 are provided by Pastor Ulysses Wong who pastors the Renewal Church in Sunnyvale, California. He is a graduate of New York University (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Pastor Ulysses and his wife Christine are proud parents of Audrey and Noah.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Spiritual Amnesia No More”
All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
It’s hard to take these Israelites seriously. God just delivered them from slavery in Egypt – a situation so bad that they found themselves literally “groaning” to God for deliverance. Now here they are, freshly freed – and wanting to go back to Egypt. What gives? All it took was a little bit of desert sand for them to desert their Savior. Yet it is here that we find the human condition, and ourselves consequently – when the going gets tough, the tough go back to Egypt. There’s nothing like hardship to make one forget all of God’s past goodness. The real danger in the desert wasn’t heat stroke – it was spiritual amnesia.
We do the same, do we not? How often we become anxious or fearful when life doesn’t seem to be going our way! And the fact that Christ has already died and risen on our behalf – something the Israelites in the desert had yet to see – only adds to our culpability. So what do we do? We look to Jesus’ example:
Matthew 4:1-4: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Here we find Jesus, like Israel, in the wilderness. Jesus didn’t spend 40 years in the wilderness – only 40 days – but He fasted the entire time yet did not complain. In that way He was faithful where Israel failed, and truly can serve as our Redeemer. When faced with hunger, rather than complaining or testing God, He simply trusted. Not only that, amazingly we find that Jesus was with the Israelites those 40 years:
1 Corinthians 10:4-5: And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Somehow, the Rock that Moses struck was more than just a rock – it was Christ. And just as the struck Rock poured out life-giving water to a rebellious rabble, so a Christ struck upon the cross poured out His life-giving Spirit to us. So what’s the point? The point is that next time you find yourself in the desert, either wanting to complain or wanting to go back to Egypt, remember that Christ is with you, and that His Spirit can provide for you, no matter the situation. Jesus didn’t complain in the desert and He was struck for our sins so that we can be confident of His Presence in our lives always.
Prayer: Jesus, You were there all along, though the Israelites saw You not. Open my eyes to see You in the midst of my situation. Grant me the faith to know Your Presence, even in the midst of a dry and weary land where there is no water. Nourish me with living water. Satisfy my soul and help me to trust in You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 26
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 4:14-16: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Questions to Consider
- If Jesus never sinned, can He truly empathize?
- Why is it important that “he did not sin”?
- Where do you turn in your “time of need”? What does this say about where you place your trust? How does Jesus’ ability to “empathize with our weaknesses” encourage you?
- Jesus can certainly empathize with us without having sinned because: first, Jesus, as the Second Person in the Trinity, is omnipotent; second, sinning is not an integral part of what it means to be a human. Thus, the fact that Jesus was fully human (without sin) was enough for him to empathize with us.
- Had Jesus sinned, his death could have atoned for his own sin but for not ours. But, because Jesus—the perfect lamb of God—didn’t sin, his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was able to atone for the sins of the world (1 Jn. 2:2).
- Personal response.
How did you do today when faced with adversity? Did you complain? Were you anxious or fearful? Or were you at peace, trusting in God’s presence? Take some time to take inventory of the emotions you felt today.