Self-examination (series) #4

More from Rickie Jenkins chapter in the book 12 Spiritual Disciplines.

 

Self-Examination in Practice

There is not an area of our lives that is exempt from self-examination. Let’s take a little self- examination in a few areas of our lives.

Marriage

First, consider the husband wife relationship. Our standard of measurement is the Lord. The husband is to love his wife in the same manner Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Each husband must ask himself, “Compared to how Christ loved His bride, the church, am I loving my bride in the same manner? Am I dying for her? Are my dreams, wishes and wants secondary to hers? Am I sacrificially giving myself for her happiness?” When it is pointed out that I can improve in a certain area of my life as a husband, do I seek to improve or just sit like an old toad on a stump, saying, “Nobody is changing me.” The love Christ had for His bride was proven by action and measured by sacrifice. He gave Himself for her. Am I truly giving myself for her? Am I seeking to live with understanding? Am I doing her good by understanding her dreams, wishes, wants and desires. Here is the serious rub, if not, my prayers are being hindered (1 Pet. 3:7). Which means, my worship is not pleasing to God. My relationship with my wife and how I love her compared to how Christ loved the church has everything to do with how my worship is accepted by God. Are we genuine? Is Christ in us? Are we judged qualified?

 

Not only husbands, but wives, do you submit to your husband as the church does to Christ (Eph. 5:22). I know that word “submit” is not a popular word today. I know some women say, “I am not submitting to him or any other man. I am woman, hear me roar.” Well, you can do that, but you cannot do that and be as Christ wanted his bride to be toward Him. Submission is really not an ugly word. The idea is of reverential submission (Eph. 5:33).  Wives submit because of a deep respect for their husbands. Their husbands have so demonstrated and proven their love for their wives that the natural, and axiomatic response is, to give herself to him. And once again, this is serious. If women fail to fulfill this role they give the adversary an opportunity to speak evil of God (Titus 2:1-5). Are you genuine? Is Christ in you? Are you judged qualified?

— to be continued.

More from Rickie Jenkins chapter in the book 12 Spiritual Disciplines.

Self-Examination (series) #3

More from Rickie Jenkins chapter in the book 12 Spiritual Disciplines.

Self-Examination and Leadership

There is a lesson here to teachers as well as students in the faith. If you are in leadership, remember your purpose! You’re supposed to be lovingly shepherding sheep, not driving cattle (1 Pet. 5:1-3)!  The opposite picture is seen in Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). Don’t miss the picture of Diotrephes. He may have been in the right pew but Christ was not in him. He loved to be first among them.

James will say, “Be not many teachers, knowing you shall come under greater condemnation (Jas. 3:1). It is serious to take the word in mouth and deliver with the tongue. No man who preaches is sinless. But, it sure makes a difference if the man preaching the word is an example of one living by the word. (1 Tim. 4:16).  The man teaching needs to be qualified, that is genuine. He needs to be an example of faith, love, righteousness, peace and love (1 Tim. 4:12).

Paul will say, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Paul subjected himself to rigid discipline. Subjection means to bring into bondage as captives from battle. Paul considers his body as one with which he must contend. He must mortify the body and debilitate it. It must be slave to the soul, not the soul to the body. Thus, I bruise or beat the body. The idea is, “I lay it flat with the right blow in the right place lest it deprive me of being a herald of the gospel without charge.”  A herald was one who proclaimed conditions of the games, displayed the prize, exhorted combatants, excited the emotions of those who were to contend, declared the terms of each contest, pronounced the names of the victors and put the crown on the heads. He summoned the contestants and proclaimed the winners. If he is making the announcement he wants to be found consistent in his life with the announcement he is making. What he speaks he wants to be found practicing them in his life.  After the combat, the prize winners would pass before the judge and it would be determined if he obeyed the rules of the combat. If he was found underhanded the crown was stripped from him and he was cast away. One disqualified. Today we say of the athlete, he failed the drug test. He is not qualified to compete. He is not who he says he is.

— to be continued.

Self-Examination (series) #2

More from Rickie Jenkins chapter in the book 12 Spiritual Disciplines.

Self-examination is a test many never take. Take note of yourselves appears three times in this verse. Not only is it emphasized by repetition; it is emphasized by being placed at the beginning of the sentence.  A more literal reading may be: “You yourselves test …. You yourselves prove … Jesus Christ is in you.” The reason for the emphasis is that only we ourselves know whether Jesus is really truly in us.

There are three criteria for passing the test. The faith test does not take into account church attendance. It does not give credit for prayer, Bible study or good works. There are three words that tell us the criteria of passing this exam: test, prove and recognize.

The first, “test” or “try” refers to how coins are tested to determine their genuineness and their full weight. Is the coin genuine or fake, genuine or disapproved? They are to apply the right test to see whether they are in the faith. A few honest questions will soon enough reveal whether they are spurious or genuine. “Do you not fully know yourselves, i.e., realize concerning yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?”  The Corinthians must have this realization, “unless you are disapproved,” i.e. tested and found false, only pretending. The aim of the test is assure they are genuine.  Paul had required this of himself, and is concerned that they know he is genuine, not spurious. Spurious Christians would not be able to know. Their judgment would be blind. But, Christians are able to test themselves and to realize their genuineness. If they are able to detect the presence of Jesus Christ in themselves they should be able to recognize others in whom Christ’s power operates, especially those who helped to put Christ in their hearts. Therefore, he calls on them to prove themselves. The irony of this passage is the Corinthians valued themselves as being exceedingly knowledgeable but were really puffed up (1 Cor. 8:1).

The second word, “prove,” is the word for examine.  Think about the word in the relationship of a student and teacher.  The teacher must have tangible proof that the student has progressed through one grade before passing the student to the next grade.  Tests provide proof that the student has successfully completed his or her work and learned the require material. Just think of all the tests you have taken in your life. Tests in school. Driving tests. Medical tests. Occupational tests. Not all of these tests could be described as fun, yet every one of them have value. Some of them reveal aspects of who we are and what we know. Some of them give us needed information. They represent milestones or offer us admittance to a new privilege or opportunity. Many tests require preparation, and often the knowledge gained in the process is the real benefit. Other tests are personal and are sometimes hard to see their rewards until long afterward. Maybe we have lost a loved one or experienced a failure of some kind. Perhaps a dream has died or financial disaster has devastated our world. Personal tests are the most difficult of all, and we don’t always pass them with flying colors. God allows tests and trials in our lives in order to make us more dependent on Him and to bring us to a point of greater spiritual maturity (Jas. 1:12).

The third word, “recognize,” indicates a full confidence and deep knowledge.  Are you sure Christ lives in you? All of us struggle with faith at times, but if Christ lives in us we should have a sense of peace and security concerning salvation. This examination requires honesty and introspection. The purpose is not to see whether you pass or fail, but to answer life’s most important question: Are you in Christ? Is Christ in you? If Christ is in you, is He making a difference? Is your thought life different? Have your attitudes, goals, habits and lifestyle changed to better reflect God’s purposes in your life? We should see signs of effort and increasing spiritual maturity. Is He seen in how I am as a husband? Wife? How I receive His word? When people see me do they see the Father?

— to be continued.

Self-Examination (a series)

Careful Self-Examination

Rickie Jenkins

Over the next several days I’m going to run this good material written by Rickie Jenkins – that is part of the book SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES. The book can be ordered here.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” But there is little danger of an unexamined life in society today! Modern life is full of tests for examination and evaluation, though they may not be the kind Socrates was talking about.

“Careful self-examination” is easy to say, easy to tell others, but it is hard, and can be unpleasant. In my library I have many books that talk about self-examination. Barnes and Noble has a whole section devoted to self-examination. Amazon is full of self-help books. Self-help is a thriving industry all by itself.

For all the literature, there is no “for-sure-bet” to be able to objectively examine myself with 100% pure objectivity. Furthermore, I have never met anyone who is 100% completely objective. I have met a few who thought they were objective. We all have our own prejudices, our own familial influences, our own religious leanings and our societal influences that motivate us. It is simply hard, if not impossible to be able to be objective when looking at ourselves.

In fact Paul acknowledged that, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves by themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12). When we measure our self by our self we are never wrong. We never see our own flaws and inadequacies. Worse, we never see our own sin. Measuring ourselves by ourselves is a subjective standard.

Therefore, we need an objective standard by which we can measure ourselves. Paul further says, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor. 10:18). It is not important that I have a favorable evaluation of myself. What really final matters is how does God see me. Therefore, I examine myself not in comparison to myself or others, but by what and whom the Lord approves. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He sets the pace for us.

When Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile he found the two fastest half-milers with whom he could train. One would run the first half-mile and then the other would run the second half-mile. Roger Bannister, however, kept running. He kept the pace set by the two fastest half-milers.

Even so, our pace setter is Christ (Heb. 12:2). He set the best example to the “nth” degree. We do not measure ourselves by the world. We do not measure ourselves by our brethren or friends. We do not compare our sin versus the sin of another. When we do we have not elevated ourselves but come out the same as everyone else. In other words, when we compare ourselves to a pig we really have not given ourselves much of an evaluation. We still look pretty good comparatively. However, when Christ set an example of how to please the Father, how to respond to threatening and abuse, how to treat those who abuse us, we have a pace setter that elevates our lives and hearts (John 8:29; 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Matt. 5:43-45). Therefore, any self-examination is measured by Jesus the Christ.

Now, with Him as our standard we can take a serious look at ourselves. Again, this is hard, it is so easy to examine others. It is so easy to continue to do the same old things in the same old ways. Self-examination begins with me. The first step is to remove the beam from my own eye (Matt. 7:1-5). Before I condemn or judge others I need to first look at myself. Am I guilty of that for which I am about to pass judgment on another? Have I first taken care to consider myself (Gal. 6:1)? How can I effectively help a brother who is overtaken in a fault, if that same fault has overtaken me and ruined my life? I need to meekly and honestly look at myself compared to Christ before I seek to restore another.  Self-examination is a test many never take.

Paul will exhort, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourself whether yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless you indeed are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5).

— to be continued.

Unselfish Humility, Phil. 2:1-4

 Phil. 2:1-4 – from today’s podcast, click here to follow.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The main idea of this brief paragraph is immediately clear. It is about Christians thinking and living in good relationship with each other. Why is this important? Because there is “encouragement in Christ,” there is “comfort from love,” we are able to participate together in those things that the Spirit has revealed, and the affection and sympathy the Spirit enables us to have completes the joy of the righteous. Do you see that verse one is loaded with

motivates. This opening signals to the reader just how important it is for Christians to think and live with each other in peace.

Living under the authority and example of Christ, we are able to be “of the same mind.” No. This doesn’t mean we are mental clones. Rather, the center governing principle of our inner thoughts are the same. There is unity of thought among us because of our mutual submission to Christ. We think alike because we serve the same Master. It is that simple.

Similarly, “the same love.” This is not about us imitating each other, to achieve this sameness. This is about imitating Christ and following Him, resulting in the inner and outer presence of this love. It is self-will and care that reaches out actively to serve others in the best possible way.

When Christians are “on the same page” following Christ, there is this sameness and harmony of thought and attitude, “being of full accord and of one mind.”

The negative of this teaching is: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Any words or actions which are driven by selfish ambition or conceit should be resisted, rejected and internally rebuked by followers of Christ. It is not who we are.

Rather, “in humility,” we are inclined to “count others more significant than” ourselves. If it can be said that we look out for Number One, that One is Jesus the Christ, not us, not self.

To be even more specific: “Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.”

Are you on the “look out” for yourself or for others? Is your interests of heart self-centered? To whatever extent that is true of you, you are not aligned with the Savior. (More about that in the next installment of this study).

Consumers

This is from the current issue (Aug.) of Pressing On Magazine, Click Here For More Information.

What Are We Consuming?

This is a good question when we are shopping for groceries, ordering from a menu or preparing food at home. Most of us love salt and sugar, yet we know our consumption of these substances must be controlled. Though our discipline may often lag behind our knowledge, the objective knowledge remains. It is good to watch what we consume. Wise behavior needs our consistent attention.

I know that paragraph might have been a bit painful to read. Pain Alert! I’m going to take this to another level. Should we pause and evaluate our online consumption?

If what we put in our bodies deserves good thought and practice, what about what we put in our minds? When we open a computer browser, think of that as a container holding what we are about to mentally consume. When we view social media, read emails and do all those Google searches, we are feeding our minds through our eyes and ears. What are we putting in our minds through online content? We know this is important. But online technology makes it so effortless to ignore.

Newsfeeds and websites we view and read may be the sugar and salt that is hard to turn down. We need to stop and think about our digital diet. When we read a newsfeed (cable news, websites with specific agendas or social media), we are reading what another human being saw or heard, or thought they saw or heard. They are writing about that event, person or idea based on their worldview. It may at first seem to fit something we want to say. Yet blind trust may lead us astray, little by little. Or leave a subtle impression in our minds that is like a seed planted that may not yield good fruit.

Memes are sometimes defined as pieces of cultural material captured by image and quotes. Do we ever source a meme? Do we spread it or share it impulsively? Do we see something in sync with our assumptions or beliefs, then quickly hit the share button? These are good questions but the primary question is, what are we consuming?

Is your mind hungry? Feed it and be nourished.

Truth Connection: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matt. 4:4, 5:6)

As Was His Custom

As Was His Custom

Luke 22

Read this from Luke chapter 22 this time, beginning at verse 39:

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

It should never fail to strike us and impress us – these passages which report Jesus Christ praying! I’ve often said, if Jesus needed to pray – how much more do we, weak and frail as we are, need to approach the throne of God repeatedly – to praise God, to ask for His help and wisdom; for strength – and in our case, for forgiveness.

In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples to pray. Then, “as his custom was,” He knelt down and prayed. I want to bring to our attention three simple things He said:

First, consider those three little words: “Not My Will.” If we could just embed those words in our minds and hold our will in check under the superior will of God – how much better we would be.

Second, “he prayed more earnestly.” Prayer must not become a routine ritual of memorized words. When we hurt, we ought to express to God our passionate interests in His strength. The fervent prayer of a righteous person has so much power.

Third, through prayer, we received strength against temptation. Jesus finished praying and said to His disciples, “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

As you read Luke and the other gospels – I want to recommend that you slow down and attend carefully to these accounts of Jesus Christ praying.

The Stewardship of Preaching

From the book, LETTERS TO YOUNG PREACHERS

From the chapter by Melvin Curry:

You may grow weary and waver in your commitment to proclaim the gospel.  Sources of discontent range from the indifference of brethren to doctrinal departures from the faith.  I confess there were times I became discouraged and thought about quitting.  But, like Jeremiah, when I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name, . . . His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).  “If I preach the gospel,” Paul said, “I have noting to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!  For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).  Thus, I have never been able with a clear conscience to escape the stewardship of preaching.  And, most likely, neither will you be able to do so.

Joy In Tribulation

Joy In Tribulation

By Warren E. Berkley (quoting J.W. McGarvey on Rom. 5)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

“…the joy of the believer is not confined to this expectation of future good; he rejoices also in present [problems], even in tribulation, because tribulation develops in him those elements of character which make him useful here, and prepare him for heaven hereafter; for tribulation teaches him that patience and steadfastness which endures without flinching, and this steadfastness wakens in him a sense of  divine approval, and the thought that God approves adds to his hope that he shall obtain the blessings of  the future world…” – J.W. McGarvey

The Hero

fire portrait helmet firefighter
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then There is The Hero

By Warren E. Berkley

We love to hear and see stories of heroes. It is encouraging, heart-warming and holds up a powerful example for our children. Courage takes over in unselfish impulses to save helpless victims out of danger, to go beyond ordinary responses and do what is self-forgetful. Movies are still made today to tell the stories of heroes.

I like the story of Cpt. “Sully” Sullenberger, who “landed” his airplane in the Hudson River. Because of his calm execution of skill and training, the downed airplane yielded no fatalities. Captain Sullenberger has become a legendary pilot who now speaks to other pilots about crisis management, leadership and his book is called: “Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters.”

Some may remember Mr. Ed Ray, the California bus driver who was hailed as a hero in 1976, for leading 26 children to safety after they were kidnapped and buried below ground in a truck trailer. He struggled with his own fear, yet kept the children’s spirits up and led them to safety. Mr. Ray died earlier this year.

Firefighters and soldiers; law enforcement people and medical emergency people are valuable to us as they put their lives at risk to help us. My son, Josh, was a firefighter on a Navy ship in the first Gulf War; my nephew, Kyle, is a firefighter in Wichita, Kansas. These men and women are rescuers extensively trained primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, and to rescue people from dangerous incidents, such as collapsed and burning buildings. It is an increasingly complex and dangerous risk they walk into every day. Do we appreciate them and thank God for them?

When we read these stories, watch the movies and see the video of acts of selflish courage, we do not have before us the ultimate sacrifice or example of courage!

“For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us,”  (Rom. 5:6-8, ESV). 

From the Archives of Expository Files