Spiritual self-examination is an obscure discipline that once was common among Christians. This is because Christians believed that examination of the heart or searching our innermost and hidden self was a way of maturing as the temple of the Spirit.
Everyone is unique, thus Jesus draws us to himself uniquely. While each of has an individual story of straying and thus God will reach out to us in individual ways, there are often many common themes all of us experience on the road to reunification with God. One such story that depicts the path nearly every conversion is that of Zacchaeus.
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?-1 Corinthians 4:7
Every part of the body is crucial for survival, but if you had to rank the importance of each organ, it seems the brain and the heart would be at the top. When we discuss our spiritual make up, the mind and heart seem to top the list of importance as well.
But what does the Bible say about the heart and mind? What’s the difference between the two? And what is the relationship between the mind and heart?
What does the Bible say about sleep? This is an important question considering that anywhere from one-third of our life will be spent on earth with our eyes closed, slumbering away in our beds. That’s a lot of time sleeping! So what does God think about sleep? Can we sleep too much, too little, and how can we use sleep the way God intended?
Sleep, like everything else God has made, is good when it’s used right but also has the potential to be greatly misused.
So what does the Bible say about personal responsibility?
Throughout the Bible, the real problem was not the Philistines, Egyptians, Syrians, or Romans. It was not the Red Sea, the lack of water, or the absence of food for the people. Nothing could hinder God’s purpose for his people other than the people themselves.
I find it interesting that humility is not one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. I think this is probably because it is one of those qualities that works its way into all of the fruits of the Spirit. All of the good qualities Christians are to posses have an element of humility within them. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control … you can’t have any of these things without humility.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, it seems every chapter has nuggets of truth regarding humility and pride. They seem to play role in everything good or bad described in Proverbs. Humility helps your relationship with God, with people, with your finances. And so rather than zero in on one of these elements, I’d like to take a bigger view this morning and ask the question, “How can we be humble and not proud?”
Life is painful. With every increase of joy and happiness comes a greater and greater likelihood of experiencing loss. The more important something becomes to you, the more it hurts when it’s taken away. And so if you allow your heart to be open to anything good at all, you also are opening your heart to a very real possibility of being wounded deeply.
So what should we do? It feels like life is one big unwinnable catch-22. We want to experience happiness in this life, and yet to open ourselves up to the possibility of happiness is to make ourselves vulnerable to pain. And yet if we stay closed off to the possibility of pleasure in relationships, careers, churches, and in all the other areas which culminate to make a full, rich life, we may go unscathed but we also will go on living a boring, safe life where our need for safety is also steeling our need for joy.
Is greatness contagious? I think so, along with weakness. Both the splendor and sin of the human spirit are cultivated through the companions with which one invests his time. Who you spend time with is not the only variable in our development, but it is a very crucial one.
Always, when you do a little digging, you will find that those truly admirable were inspired by and (to some degree) sculpted by other great men and women surrounding them. Children whose parents are professional athletes or gifted academically seem to have a greater knack for similar accolades. Sure, one can make a case that it’s all in the genes, but surely this is not the main variable in the equation of greatness.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.-Hebrews 4:9-10
Have you ever been burned out? Just over done from the grilling flames of the day-to-day grind we all endure? The natural remedy, we think, to being overworked is to get time away from work. Isn’t this one of the main reasons we look forward to the holiday seasons so much?
True rest is not the absence of responsibility; real rest is being in the intimate presence of the Lord. Therefore, if we seek to rejuvenate ourselves simply through the absence of responsibility, this is a quick fix that will not last because it is based in a works theology. We think we can gain our own rest through our actions, or in this case, our lack of actions.