On the last Sunday of the year, and a Sunday in which communion was observed, Pastor Adam taught about the importance of an examined life. At the Lord’s supper in I Corinthians, Jesus mentioned examination and remembrance two different times. At times of communion, we are called to remember what God through Jesus has done for us. It is easy to fall into what Adam called “holy amnesia” and forget about all the sacrifices Jesus made on our behalf and all of God’s provisions. Small keys were passed out during the service. These keys are meant to remind us what God has done in the past is KEY to moving forward in life. That is true during a time of communion, and it is poignant to remember as 2018 closes and 2019 is on the horizon. Do you have any spiritual practices in place to remember God’s faithfulness on a regular basis? Some people participate in what is called a practice of “examen.” Some put this spiritual discipline into practice a few times a week and some even a few times a day. The regular practice of examination (or as it is often called “examen”) is helpful in looking back over a set amount of time to recall the presence and provisions of God and to be more aware and present to God’s movement. A regular practice of some sort of examination is helpful in preventing “holy amnesia.” You can read more about the practice of Examen here.
Pastor Adam quoted Abraham Lincoln during today’s teaching. The quote is powerful as it speaks to the importance of remembrance and examination in our lives: We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power…But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
INVITATION: This week we look at three practices Jesus mentioned before communion. These should be put into practice prior to partaking of the bread and wine (body and blood), but also as a regular habit in our lives. You are invited to spend some time with these three R’s as 2018 comes to a close this week: remembrance, repentance and reconciliation.
MONDAY: Deuteronomy 8:11-18: Consider your life during this past year. Have any blessings tempted you to forget your need for God or even taken you away from God? Have you forgotten what life was like without God? How can you fully enjoy the blessings of God without losing sight of the One who provided them? Perhaps you might want to do a year end “examen” and look back on the faithfulness and provision of God, thanking Him and making your requests known for the year 2019.
TUESDAY: Rev. 3:15-22: Repentance is mentioned fifty times in the New Testament. It means “turning away.” It’s not just some cursury “I’m sorry” to God. It involves change. Are there any “closed doors” in your heart and life, i.e. places where you have not allowed God to take control? Maybe you have even thrown away the key? What are the spiritual and emotional prisons that keep you from Him? Picture yourself in a room with a locked door. What is the name on that door? Indulgence? Impatience? Anger? Lust? Bitterness? Self-hatred? In your prayer time, go to that door and open it to Jesus’ presence. Give him permission to enter and nurture you toward wholeness in 2019.
WEDNESDAY: Prov. 28:13: It is not easy for anyone to confess wrongdoing. Adam and Eve couldn’t. Neither could the snake. The Proverbs claim that if we conceal and lock away our transgressions, we will not prosper. Perhaps more agonizing is living in fear that someone will find out about us. So, we often end up hiding and pretending all is well. Confession can be freeing and healing. Are you ready to begin 2019 with a clear conscience, heart, soul and mind? Place yourself in God’s presence and unburden your heart in confession this week. Be honest with God. Psalm 139 might be a good starting place.
THURSDAY: Col. 1:15-22: God clears a path for ALL to be reconciled to Christ. That means you. That means no matter who you are or what your past is. What image from these verses stands out to you the most? Take that image with you today and use it in imaginative prayer and worship. Notice how God meets with you.
FRIDAY: 2 Cor. 5:17: In your prayer time today, spend some time telling Jesus what “old” things you would like gone in your life. If there is any bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart, have a time with God setting all that right. Keep it mind it has nothing to do with the other person “deserving” your forgiveness. Remember, you didn’t deserve the forgiveness Jesus Christ has given you. Will you be a good steward of that gift?
SATURDAY: 2 Cor. 5:18-21: “What unparalleled condescension and divinely tender mercies are displayed in these verses! Did the judge ever beseech a condemned criminal to accept pardon? Does the creditor ever beseech a ruined debtor to receive an acquittal in full? Yet our almighty Lord, and our eternal Judge, not only vouchsafes to offer these blessings, but invites us, entreats us, and with the most tender importunity, solicits us not to reject them.” John Wesley
What about you? How might you move into 2019 with a time of remembering and examination in your life?