Self-Examination and the Lord’s Supper

In the troubled Corinthian church, the Lord’s Supper had not been protected from abuse. This mistreatment of the Supper was so serious that Paul bluntly told them that the way they were handling this memorial was actually a despising of the church (1 Cor. 11:22) that invited God’s judgment on them (11:29). As he corrected their practice, he called their attention back to the inauguration of the Lord’s Supper on the night of the Lord’s betrayal (11:23-25). The apostle affirmed that Christians were to use that solemn observance as an opportunity to remember Jesus (11:24-25) and examine themselves (11:28).

I’d like to share with you one way that I focus my mind during this time of remembrance and reflection. It involves considering the wounds that Jesus endured in the process of his death and using them as a guide for assessing my own life.

  • Think about the nailed-scarred hands of Jesus and ask yourself, “What have my hands done this week?” Have your hands been used to sin? Have they been used to serve?
  • Think about the pierced feet of Jesus. Where have your feet taken you this week? Have they taken you to places that you should not have gone? Have they walked in the counsel of the wicked (Psa. 1:1)? Or have they been guided by the light of God’s word (Psa. 119:105)?
  • Think of how the head of Jesus was pierced with thorns, then think about your own head – or more specifically, your mind. What thoughts have occupied your mind this week? Have you brought your thoughts captive to obey Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5)? Or have your thoughts been corrupted by unholiness and lust?
  • Consider how the side of our Lord was pierced, then think about the things that you have kept close to your own side over the past week. What has been important to you? Have you kept the Lord himself as your closest companion? Or did you allow something or someone else to be closer (Matt. 10:37)?
  • Consider how the back of Jesus was beaten without mercy. What about your back? Have you turned your back on Jesus (John 6:66)?

With these questions thoughtfully considered, I will sometimes offer a prayer of confession that ends with praise and worship for the forgiveness that is mine because of what Jesus endured for me. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)!

Do You Care? Really?

Far too frequently we see news stories about parents who neglect their children. It’s hard to look at the pictures of little faces that are suffering because those who should love them do not. In some of those cases there are probably some psychological disorders contributing to the problem. But in other cases it may be nothing more than what Paul described in Ephesians 4:19 as being “callous” (ESV) or “passed feeling” (NKJV). Some have traveled so far from God and his righteousness that their consciences having been seared (1 Tim. 4:2). Bluntly stated, some people just don’t care.

Another tragedy that happens far too often is when people stop caring about their own souls. There is no human possession more valuable than one’s own soul (Mark 8:36-37). Yet many have become so callous and past feeling that they sin “against their own souls” (Num. 16:38) through neglect and abuse. I often ask the same question about them that I do of those who abuse children: how can you not care?

Consider these basic characteristics of a person who cares.

If you care, you feed. Parents who care about their children want them to have sufficient food to eat. In a similar way, the person who cares about his own soul will feed it proper food. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). As we mature in the faith, we should consume the “meat” of the word in addition to the milk (Heb. 5:13-14). Do you care enough to read and study the Bible each day? Do you care enough to attend Bible classes? Do you care enough to be faithful in your worship attendance?

If you care, you protect. Loving parents will protect their children from harm. They will put up safeguards in the home. They will watch them closely in public places. But what about your own soul? Do you care enough to protect it from the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21)? Do you protect your soul from the worldly influences that often come through television and movies? Do you protect it from internet pornography? If you care, you protect.

The danger of neglecting our souls is that if we neglect them long enough, we might never be able to rescue them (Heb. 6:4-6). Examine your life and habits. Do you care? Really?

What Exodus Teaches Us About God

Exodus does not merely tell the facts about the life of Moses, the ten plagues, the Jewish people escaping Egyptian slavery, and the Ten Commandments. It draws the reader ever closer to the God who made all that happen. What do we learn about God in the book of Exodus?

God Keeps His Promises. God had promised Abraham that he would make a great nation out his descendants (Gen. 12:2; 15:12-16). The book of Exodus emphasizes God’s intention to fulfill those promises (Exo. 2:24; 3:6–8, 15–17; 4:5; 6:2–8; and also 32:13).

God Wants to Be Close to His People. One of the themes emphasized in this great book is God’s presence among his people. He appears to Moses (3:1-4:17). He descends to the top of Sinai in the presence of the people (19:16-20). He shows himself to Moses, Aaron, and 72 leaders (24:9-11). He reveals his glory to Moses (34:1-10). Most of the second half of the book (chapters 25-40) focuses on the tabernacle, through which God promised to dwell among them (29:43-46; 40:34-38).

God Can Still Use Those Who Struggle With Self-Confidence. In chapters 3 and 4 Moses wrestles with accepting God’s charge to deliver the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. Moses saw nothing in himself that would qualify him for the task God set before him (3:11). He didn’t want to be asked a question that he could not answer (3:13). He was fearful that the people wouldn’t believe him if he did answer (4:1). He didn’t think he was eloquent enough to effectively communicate what God wanted (4:10). But God’s consistent responses changed the focus from who Moses was to who God is (3:12, 14; 4:5, 11-12), and that made all the difference.

God Deserves the Credit for Our Victories. We succeed only by the power he supplies (13:9, 14; Col. 1:29; Eph. 3:16). “Our God will fight for us” (14:14).

The Laws of God are Tests of Our Faith (15:25-26). How we relate to God’s commands tells us the nature of our relationship to God himself (cf. John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 5:3). We cannot successfully argue that we have faith in God if we consistently live without regard for his instruction.

God Deserves to be Feared (20:18-21). Interestingly, Moses says in Exodus 20:20, “Do not fear” and then says that “the fear of him” should be before the people. The first reference to fear in that verse is connected to the end of verse 19. They were afraid that God was trying to kill them. Moses is telling them not to be afraid of that. The second reference is to the proper fear of God, which includes the dread of punishment for wrongdoing as well as the offering of reverence that God deserves. In that sense, it is proper to fear God (Prov. 1:7; Psa. 19:9; Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; Heb. 10:31; 12:28-29).

God Deserves to be Worshiped (20:22-26; 22:20, 29-30; 23:13-19). God instructed the people to build altars “in every place where I cause my name to be remembered” (20:22-26). In addition, there were three times each year that the people were to observe feasts: the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Harvest, and Ingathering (23:14-17). These celebrations reminded the people of God’s worthiness to be praised. All of the instructions regarding the tabernacle, its furniture, and the work of the priests (chapters 25-40) also stressed the importance of their worship to God (Psalm 18:3; 29:1-2; Rev. 4:11; 5:12-14).

There is tremendous practical value in studying the Old Testament (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). The book of Exodus reminds us to trust God, draw near to God, be confident in God, be grateful to God, obey God, fear God, and worship God. Those are reminders we need every day.