Spiritual Disciplines // STUDY AND SELF EXAMINATION
We have a problem. In reality we have many problems, but the last 10 months have highlighted a major problem. We have a propensity to trust in ourselves, our own efforts, and our ability to provide for ourselves. A Pandemic, subsequent job instabilities, and worries over the economy have led to a cacophony of anxiety and upheaval in many of our lives. Jesus knew we would worry about our provision. That’s why he included the following teaching in the greatest sermon ever preached: The Sermon on the Mount.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.Matthew 6:25–34 (NLT)
Today we will practice the discipline of self-examination. Self examination is not a regular practice for most. It’s easy to examine and critique others; we do it constantly. It costs nothing to critique a neighbor, coworker, a politician, or a boss. Self-examination is costly and sometimes painful; however, self-examination gives the gift of God’s grace to our souls. What is revealed has the possibility to be healed! Paul writing to the Church in Corinth says,
31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.1 Corinthians 11:31–32 (NLT)
Jesus says his yolk is easy and his burden is light. Jesus’ correction and gentle rebukes are designed to bring us back in alignment with his will and his ways. Self-examination, and the subsequent revelations are a gift from God!
Take some time to allow the Lord to speak to your heart. Find a quiet place and take 10 deep breaths. Ask the Lord to reveal any anxiety you might be feeling over your provision. It could be a job, a relationship, the economy, a retirement account, etc.
Don’t let your mind drift away from the anxiety; rather, let your mind slow down to connect with some of these fears. Write them down, saying “I am anxious about . . .”.
As you finish, go back through your list reading each item out loud. As you finish reading your list of anxieties, repeat this phrase – “God knows my needs. He will provide.”
Sit in the quiet for a few minutes longer and allow the peace of the Lord to settle your heart.