As January comes to an end and the second month of 2017 begins, many of us will be thinking about the goals and resolutions we made just a few weeks ago. We’ll examine our progress (or lack of it) concerning a new diet, exercise plan or some other goal.
And when it comes to our health, we get numerous examinations and tests to ensure we stay as healthy as we can. When we go to school, we take examinations to test our proficiency in those subjects. But how many of us take time to examine our lives spiritually?
Exodus 13 & 14
Journaling & Self-Examination
The Value of Memorials
As the Lord delivered the Israelites out of their 430 years of slavery in Egypt, he gave them several things that were to act as memorials for them. First, was the Passover itself.
He, also, told them the first born of all their children and animals belonged to Him. They were to sacrifice the “clean” animals (more about that later) and were to redeem or offer another sacrifice in place of those animals not appropriate for sacrificing (13.13) and they were to offer sacrifices for their firstborn sons. This was to remind them of how the Lord had spared their sons and animals when He brought the final plague on Egypt.
As we continue with our Old Testament narrative, we will repeatedly see God instruct the Nation of Israel to set up memorials. We, too, need our own memorials. It’s so easy to forget what God has done for us and, instead, get focused on what we think He hasn’t done: the prayers He hasn’t answered our way or how He hasn’t blessed us like He has blessed someone else. We need to remind ourselves about the things from which He has already delivered us and the things He has done for us.
Even, if He never did another thing, we should remember the price He paid so our sins could be forgiven. That is the central focus of the Lord’s Supper, the New Testament counterpart to the Passover. It is a memorial to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (emphasis mine)
Another focus of the Lord Supper is to remind us to examine ourselves. In the Old Testament leaven or yeast represented sin. As the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt and each time they took the Passover, they were to examine themselves and see if there was sin in their lives. We, too, are to ask God to show us if there is unrepentant sin in our lives before we take the Lord’s Supper.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11, emphasis mine)
This isn’t the only time we should examine ourselves. The Psalmist prayed in Psalm 139:23-24:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This is a great prayer to offer to God on a daily basis.
A Tool for Remembering and Self-Examination
One way to memorialize what God has done in your life and to ponder various self-examination questions is to keep a journal or prayer notebook. It can, also, be a place to record prayer requests, answers to prayer, and things God shows you in your study of His Word. If you want to know more about journaling, you can purchase my ebooklet Ten Benefits of Keeping a Spiritual Journal.
Not More Than We Can Handle, If …
One more verse I’d like to point out is Exodus 13:17. It says:
“… God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ “
He didn’t put them in a situation that He knew would have been more than they could handle. He, also, protected them with a “pillar of cloud” and a “pillar of fire.” Then He miraculously delivered them from the armies of Egypt.
This is so much like what God often does in the lives of new believers. He moves in miraculous and undeniable ways to help solidify their faith in Him. The goodness of God is undeniable!
But new believers aren’t the only ones who can count on God to put restraints of the tests, trials, and temptations in our lives. 1 Corinthians 10.13 promises:
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
If we keep our eyes on Him, rely on His strength, and obey His instructions for responding, He promises not to allow tests and trials to be greater than we can bear.
Today’s Other Readings:
He delights in us!
Verse 19b, “He delivered me because He delighted in me.”
Imagine, the Creator of heaven and earth chooses to love and even delights in us!
Laziness = Poverty
In these verses Solomon reminds us that laziness is one sure way to poverty.
Hosanna in the Highest
On the Sunday before His crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. As He did, the people cast their garments and palm leaves on the road in front of Him. They cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” This was the Sunday we now memorialize as Palm Sunday.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Thank God today for His goodness. Remember His wonderful deeds. Ask Him to examine your life. Then act on what He shows you!
You may have thought about keeping a spiritual journal, but thought it would take too much time and effort. My booklet can help you see how journaling can benefit your spiritual life and fit into the busiest life.
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