Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
March 6th, 2022
that sanity will prevail and that all those suffering through the terrible conflict in Ukraine will find the comfort and resources they need.   


Excerpt from
A Pocketful of Sundays
EAS c. 2005

The seemingly innocent phrase, "Oh, I would give anything..." might be nothing more than a simple figure of speech or it can have sinister connotations. Depending on our list of priorities, each of us has our own way of filling in the blanks, but, sadly, there are those who would literally give "everything" for the sake of a material outcome. Just as Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer for 24 years of profit and delight, signing the bargain with his own blood, so, too, there are those who stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Sometimes, their stories make the headlines: women who snatch babies from their cots or from their mother's' wombs simply to have a child; top models who sacrifice their health for the sake of a svelte body; athletes who sabotage their competitors or else take illegal performance-enhancing drugs to get ahead...

More commonly, however, there is little public drama around people's attempts to gain "the whole world." People of all ages overspend to get what they want, jeopardizing their finances and mortgaging their futures for the sake of a new car or a larger home or a costly vacation, or some other enticement.

Yes, to gain "the whole world"
(whatever that means to us), we are sometimes ready to pay too high a price. We may not consciously sign our souls away, but we can end up becoming soulless as a result of our choices. In order to "have more" or "be more," we incur debt, anxiety, physical pain, guilt and frustration, becoming chronically restless and unhappy without knowing why. Eventually, our preoccupation with gaining "the whole world" snowballs into such an all-engrossing obsession that we can think of nothing else.


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Greetings, SBT Readers!

It has been almost two weeks since Russia did the unthinkable and violated Ukraine's sovereignty. The brutal, relentless bombardment has shocked the world and it is not only Ukraine's neighbors that now fear Putin's next steps. The seizing of Chernobyl and the attack on the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia have put the whole world on edge -- and rightly so!

But there is more to the story than terror. What we are seeing played out on the global stage is the battle between good and evil, between love and hate, truth and lies-- between David and Goliath, if you will. If Putin's onslaught on Ukraine represents the worst of humanity, so the courageous defiance of Ukraine and her leaders -- especially that of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy-- is nothing short of inspiring. In the media and social media alike, images and narratives of heroism in action mesmerize us, inspire us, call us to stand in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Who has not seen images of brave medics treating the wounded, the infirm, the shell-shocked? Or of first responders digging through the rubble for survivors, putting out fires, dragging the injured to safety? Or of everyday Ukrainians blocking convoys of tanks with their bodies or of the soldier who sacrificed himself by blowing up a bridge that would have given access to the Russian invaders?

In other countries, some have heard the call to arms and left their homelands to join forces with Ukrainian resistance; others have donated generously and creatively, even through "fake" Airbnb bookings that can quickly channel funds to those who need them the most; still others -- more than a million protesters-- have taken to the streets in 200 cities on six continents; people from every faith tradition are praying for peace, for the cessation of hostilities. In cities from Berlin to Warsaw, private citizens have opened their homes to refugees, or donated food, clothing and other supplies...

Across the globe, there is an uprising of hope that is stronger than all the destruction that Putin can inflict; there is a universal call for justice that is louder than all Putin's weaponry; and there is an indomitable resistance to all that Putin represents. From the ashes, Ukraine -- and humane values-- will rise again!

May there be peace!



Then the devil took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God,
 and him alone shall you serve.”

Whether tempted to turn stones into bread (temptation to work magic), to claim the kingdoms of the world (temptation to have power) or to leap from the parapet of the temple (temptation to prove Divine Sonship), Jesus has only one answer that he expresses in three different ways: "One does not live on bread alone... You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve... You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Collectively, these three statements mean one thing: That there is a Higher Being who is the source of all that we are and to whom we are accountable; moreover, this core belief is incompatible with the needs of the False Self -- that grasping, greedy, narcissistic, entitled self that wants to impress others, claim earthly power, and prove Divine endorsement.

But let's dive deeper. Each of Jesus' responses is based in scripture, a fact to which he alludes by prefacing his words with, "It is written..." His refusal to command stones to turn to bread is more understandable when we look at Dt. 8:1-3. In this passage, Moses reminds the people how God fed them with manna during their forty years of desert wandering to teach them that their hunger could only be satisfied by "every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord." What Jesus is saying then, is that only God can satisfy the hungers of the human heart -- neither "bread," nor any other possession, whether edible or not. He also resists the temptation to play "
the magician" and to work miracles for his own gratification.

"You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve" also comes from Deuteronomy, this time, from Dt 6:10-14. Again, the context is important. The Devil tempts Jesus with the nations of the world, but Jesus cites Moses' warning to the people: When they reach the Promised Land, they are not to forget God and worship other gods, because it is God who has delivered them from slavery, nurtured them, accompanied them and who will provide all that they need for a happy and prosperous life. To worship the Devil then, would be to reject God and to place importance on earthly power rather than on pleasing God.

Deuteronomy is also the source of the third quotation: "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” In Dt 6:16, Moses reminds the Israelites of the way they tested God at Massah, demanding water to test if the Lord was in their midst (Ex 17:1-7). Jesus, then, rejects any attempt to prove that God is with him-- a foreshadowing of his acceptance of the ignominy of the cross. Perhaps this line clarifies the meaning of "lead us not into temptation"-- the temptation of doubting God's fidelity.

In rejecting the three temptations, Jesus defines his ministry and his self-understanding. Regardless of who others want him to be, he will place God first, always remembering who it is that he serves and why. May we who profess to be his disciples do the same...


  • What tempts you to be less than you are called to be?
  • What material goals/possessions lure you away from the spiritual path?
  • What spiritual practices/ resources/ guides keep you faithful to your calling?
  • Why do you think Jesus turned to Deuteronomy 6 for his answers to the Devil?
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Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,