God is working in our lives. Our examination should be encouraging. God is on our side!
[Ryan Hall] Shortly after winning his third college hockey championship for the University of Minnesota, Herb Brooks was hired as the head coach for the 1980 U.S. hockey team. And Coach Brooks quickly held tryouts later that summer, and he handpicked 20 players who he labeled the "right players" for his team. Not the best, but the right. These young men came from rival colleges from across the state, and had played each other for many years over the last… well, for four years at least and had a rivalry between them. As you can imagine, you don't take a team that fought each other for four years and make one, and everything goes smooth. To deal with this, Coach Brooks worked with these young men hard, trying to break those old rivalries. He knew if he wanted to be the world's best at the U.S. Olympics, he had to have his players see the need to let go of the past and move forward for the future. So just like a military boot camp, Coach Brooks put these young men through long grueling, basic hockey drills. His hope was if they were too tired to play, they may just be too tired to fight. As I understand, hockey requires a lot of fighting, which I never played.
Like, my mom raised me to be a lover, not a fighter. Hi, mom. She's watching. So no, I never had the nerve to play hockey. But I've watched plenty of it and realize that's a very grueling, what was it, an hour, two hours on the ice. But this strategy that Coach Brooks put into his team was not to destroy the men, but he was also trying to encourage them to change, to let go of who they were and develop the potential that they had. During these early practices, Coach Brooks would also ask each player, "Who do you play for?" And each player would respond, "I play for," and he would go ahead and mention the former college or his formal team. Now, this wasn't the answer Coach Brooks wanted, but he never corrected. He wanted them to understand who they were on their own. He didn't want to force it. He knew this decision had to come from each player if his vision was to be a success.
Unfortunately, this attitude continued for some time. It just wasn't getting the point. But after a humiliating loss in exhibition game, and after a grueling practice that followed, one player on his own accord stood up and said his name, and said, "I play for Team USA." Finally, something began to click, something changed. And a few weeks later, they started to identify themselves as a family. They started letting go of who they once were and joined together as a team that went on to win the gold medal at the U.S. Olympics in, when was it, 1980 in Lake Placid, New York. They went from nothing to something because they were willing to change.
Just like that U.S. hockey team, we too, think about it, we have been called out of our individual lives, not the best in the world, but placed within the body under the direction of Jesus Christ to accomplish something that the world can't comprehend, even hard for us to comprehend at times. It's an honor. But it's going to take a significant change of letting go of who we once were and joining together to look towards the future. We have to give up who we are individually and identify in the Body of Jesus Christ.
Part of that commitment requires constant training, staying in a developmental phase. The old way we know will constantly try to come up in our lives in the most inconvenient times when we least expect it. But when we stay focused, when we constantly look at our development, it helps us properly address these moments when they come up. And that's why God requires us to engage in the self-examinations throughout our lives so that we have time to stop and reflect of what we are doing and why. Often we look at this time of correction, but is it always a time of correction when we examine ourselves? It's easy to look at ourselves and see what we haven't done. But God wants us to look at this time as what we have done, what we are doing because it gives us the hope to keep moving forward. It's for our benefit. Can we see the goal? We keep our minds on that vision, we can achieve the potential that God has placed in each one of us.
So we come to this time before the annual Passover, we have to look at it as an encouraging time. The apostle Paul made it clear that we are to do it. But it gives us hope, looking for why we keep the Passover, the purpose of why we want to keep the Passover. So, how effective have we been with our examinations? If we want to get past just the correct state of mind, we want to look to do something to achieve what Christ has put within us, how effective are we at looking at ourselves? Are we looking at ourselves and seeing God doing work in us or are we just like hockey players, not fighting, but going through drills, going through this examination year after year, and not really seeing why? If we just focus on the negative, it can be that way. We feel like we're just going through what we can't do right. But all in all, we're learning who we are to be. This should not be a dreaded time, something we look like we have to do before we could keep the Passover. But God wants it to be an exciting time, an encouraging time because we have the opportunity to stop and see what God is doing in our lives.
Today I'd like to address four topics or four points to ensure that we can experience an effective self-examination, that we can approach this Passover with hope, see its true meaning, and walk away knowing that we are moving forward. We're not looking at everything we're doing wrong. But before we address these four points, let's quickly talk about why is it important to examine ourselves prior to the Passover? If you would, please turn over to Galatians 5. Galatians 5, and let's start in verse 24. Galatians 5:24 Galatians 5:24And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
American King James Version×states, "And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
Verse 25, "If we live in this Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." What Paul is saying here is if we claim, if we desire to walk with this Holy Spirit, as God is called, we have the responsibility to walk with it with an impersonal integrity, looking to develop holy, righteous, godly character. And we also have to have moral courage to do so. The main reason that you and I engage in self-examinations is that we're commanded to prove that we are who we say we are. If we claim it, we must be willing to live by it. The evidence of God's Holy Spirit has to be obvious in our lives. If we're really honest with it, we have to be honest with ourselves, first and foremost. Look at ourselves, ask those questions. God commands that you and I hold ourselves accountable in every aspect of our lives.
Let's go ahead and turn over to 2 Corinthians 13. Can't talk about examinations without turning to 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×. It's important that we know that we are in line with the standards that God sets forth for us to live by. We need to know if we need to course-correct. And we also have to be encouraged that we are living it. 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×, for in Amplified it states, "Test and evaluate yourself to see whether you're in the faith and living your lives as committed believers. Examine yourselves, [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you— unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as counterfeit?”
Paul is encouraging us to take a closer look, prove what's going on inside our hearts and our minds. It's that reminder that we left that old way of life in that watery grave and we committed to walking in a newness of life as a new creation in the Body of Christ. Again, our examination should not just focus on what we've done wrong since that point, but also what we've done right. God's not there to tell us everything we've done wrong. It'd be discouraging. It's a very good thing to see God working in our lives. And God wants us to acknowledge His marvelous work because we are His handiwork. Each one of us. We are His precious children. And He loves you just as much as you love Him. What God is doing during these times is He's drawing our attention to the progress that you're part of, building a building that you're making a very important part for the future.
Think about being a parent. We don't want to just address our kids when something's wrong. Just when a kid comes up to you and says, "Dad, I need to ask you a question," it's one of the greatest feelings I know that my children care about what I think. And I love the opportunity to tell them, "Yes, make me proud here, buddy." Keep doing it. Make that connection. It's a spiritual bond we have with our children, just like God has that spiritual bond with us. Again, it's not negative. But a process of revealing that, yes, we may need to change, but it's a process to uplift this to continue to move forward. And there's no sense avoiding it, we know that hearing things that we are doing wrong, it can be discouraging. We might need to do some changing. But if you look at it at a different light, in an encouraging way, our Father is taking the time to tell us what we need to do to correct. Instead of letting us fall, He's there to encourage us, "Here's the way, walk in it." He's not letting us go and keep failing. He's been encouraging to us. And He does it out of a sincere love. As we know, according to Scripture, correction from God is a blessing. A blessing that He promised us that He would not leave us. He would show us the way to walk. It's His expression of love to see us succeed.
Let's read on verse 6 in 2 Corinthians 13. Verse 6 says, "But I trust that you will know that you're not disqualified." Paul points out the main focus of this set of Scriptures. After all the training, after all the trials, after everything we've been going through, he's telling us you need that aha moment. "Oh, I am doing it right. I guess that's what you mean. I'm not failing. I'm progressing.” Because he in this instance says, "We must see that we are in the faith." Not will be, you are in the faith. You are striving. You are overcoming. You're putting forth the effort to try harder. Don't be so hard on yourselves. We must see that mighty hand of God not pushing us back but lifting us up in these moments, bringing us right alongside saying, "Keep it up, buddy. You're doing a good job."
If we want to experience a walk with Christ, balanced and yes, being corrected, but also being encouraged, we must know how to approach these moments of examination. We definitely want to make sure that we're not putting the rosy glasses on and overlooking sin. That's our duty. Overcome put sin out of our lives. But we also want to have that encouragement to keep going, to get a balanced outlook, to look at ourselves, ask the questions, and be honest.
So point one of the four that we're going to talk about today, we must see the need and choose to examine. We must see the need and choose to examine. We're still in 2 Corinthians 13. Let's go back to verse 5 again. 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourself. Do you not know yourself that Jesus Christ is in you?" It starts with a choice, a choice to improve and grow a relationship. We must build upon that relationship, acknowledge that relationship. It wasn't a one-time life choice. It's just like our marriages. We make a commitment. And it needs constant work. It needs a communication. Even though we committed, we can't just let it sit and become stagnant. It's our first true love, something we must continually seek, restore it when it's needed, and constantly improving upon it. We should cherish it and treat it like the precious treasure that it truly is. There's nothing else in this entire world that we can ever experience like that relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul is telling us, if we must be found of faith, we must know that we have that relationship. Acknowledge it, work on it because this is the only source of unity and it's the only standard that we have to move forward with. Because our faith is based on this relationship. In a healthy relationship, brethren, we know it has to stay active, two-way street.
If you would, please, let's turn back to the book of Luke. And I want to just for a few minutes, just review an example of what happens if we're not keeping that relationship active? Luke 18. And we're viewing it from a standpoint as if it's just something there. We just assume it's one way, and we're going to look at the contrast of someone who desires, who's active, who sees it, and wants to move forward. Luke 18, and starting in verse 9, famous set of scriptures here, Pharisee and tax collector. Luke 18, starting in verse 9, "And He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves they were righteous, and despised others." Verse 10, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I'm not like other men— extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as that tax collector. You see, I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess.’ But the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much raise his eyes towards heaven, but he beat upon his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’"
When we choose to examine ourselves, to look deeply at what we desire, we must ask ourselves and be honest, do I just want to look the part? Do I desire to be the part? Do I desire that righteous to the point where I beg for it? Not taking it for granted. We must look at our relationship as a goal too, something that keeps our mind reaching forward. Not just sitting there thinking it's they're always and I don't have to worry about it. It's forward reaching, engaging. When we look at that example, that Pharisee, he was focusing outward, thinking about himself, letting to be thinking he's righteous. In reality, it was just a self-righteousness that he had. And if we think like that, we can easily start thinking highly of ourselves, not looking at the truth, misreading our spiritual health, misreading the symptoms. We might not even realize how far we drifted away from the truth. Because we all know, sin has a way of slowly invading our lives, making hurtful changes so strategically we didn't even know it happened and we accept it as part of our lifestyle.
This should alert us, but, brethren, it should not depress us. I know it sounds heavy and it's like, "How is that even possible?" This can be viewed positively. Psalm 119, just verse 59. Psalms 119:59 Psalms 119:59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to your testimonies.
American King James Version×, "I thought about my ways, and I turn my feet to Your testimonies." God out of His love is allowing us to see the problem. We have been blessed with the opportunity to address that problem. We don't get to the part where the self-righteousness is keeping us from seeing who we are or not. But because we seek the Lord, because we are trying, we're acknowledging, we have the opportunity to work on it now. We're submitting to the great God Almighty, fighting against that sin, which means we're drawing closer to God when we examine. We're seeing that relationship. And when we do that, Satan will flee, giving us a stronger bond to our Father.
When we stay active in our relationship, brethren, we have that ability to sense that something is just not right. A person who is engaged with that feeling, with themselves, with God active, they notice when something… a habit is starting to develop when that thought process just is not moving as it should, and they take ahold of it and start working. Take it to the Father. Ask Christ, "Help me deal with this now." Because I don't want to be one day saying, "Well, look what I did, Father." And I hear this, "I don't know you," because you didn't take that time. When we acknowledge that we need help, we seek to course correct, our loving Father never turns us away. This is why we keep engaged in God's Word. This will allow us to see that need, to keep that relationship in tip-top shape because it's our choice to do. And it's been offered to us, His saints. This is a gift of God to you and I, the saints of the Most High God. And it's a great honor. That's how we can see it positively. Who else bears this gift to change now, to see where they're going wrong? God has blessed us tremendously to have this opportunity in this process.
Point two, we cannot attempt our examinations alone. We cannot attempt our examinations alone. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong once said, "You cannot reach a correct conclusion if you begin with an incorrect assumption." So how can we know if we're approaching this process correctly? To ensure this, as we all know, we need to get our bearings, get our feet firm on something, get an idea where we're going, and grab the proper tools that we need to do a thorough job.
Hebrews 4. Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×, "For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the divisions of soul and spirit, and of joints and of marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." You know, The Living Bible puts this verse this way, "For whatever God says to us is full of living power. It's sharper than the sharpest dagger. It cuts swift and it cuts into the innermost parts of our thoughts and our desires. It exposes us for who we really are." That's a powerful tool. When we prepare by turning our lives to the source of life, both physically and spiritually, Jesus tells us that His words, what He gives us, they speak life. Because they're of Spirit and they are of life. They are the tools we need to be using to produce life, not death, because His words, they bring us joy. They don't bring us sadness. They help us see Him working within us. When we prepare ourselves when we study, when we pray, when we meditate and yes, when we fast, our heart and mind will be properly prepared because we're using the tools necessary to see our bearings, know which way we're going and how to get there. Because these tools, again, are the only source alive because they give us the direction we need to move in this dark world.
But if we’re to get and think about this, if we're to get the correct answers, it still depends on our approach and how we address it. So we're in this point of we can't examine alone, attempting to examine our lives without the spiritual help, we won't get that complete, accurate result we're looking for. The desire we look for when we attempt to self-examine is to bridge the symptoms to the true problem, which will take more than just looking without these tools. It's one of the things you see on TV now and on the internet. We always think we can self-diagnose in this society. I'll Google it. I'll YouTube it. That's the problem, I can fix it. But attempting to do it ourselves would give us a limited perception and the true extent of the problem we may be facing. We can't evaluate ourselves based upon how we see ourselves. We have to evaluate ourselves on how God sees us. Then and only then will we get that true spiritual checkup. And then we'll understand what those true symptoms we may be experiencing and have the proper solution handed to us.
Let's turn back to Psalms 19. Psalms 19:12-13 Psalms 19:12-13  Who can understand his errors? cleanse you me from secret faults.
 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
American King James Version×. "Who can understand His errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." Verse 13, "Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins’ let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgressions." Because David's asking, "What is lurking inside my heart, Father? Look deep where I can't see. Even the sins that try to hide themselves from me that I'm not acknowledging, search them, find them. I don't want to be guilty of this great crime. Help me, Father." So when we go to God, as he said here in Psalm 19, through that prayer, diligently studying, fasting, we're asking God to lead us through the entire process, hand in hand, turning ourselves over to the one who knows us better than we can ever know ourselves. And when we do that, He gives us the clear direction. He gives us the bearings because He's guiding us through it. We're not guessing. It keeps us from forming our own personal opinions of what we think we are because the spiritual facts are laid out right in front of us. Our personal opinions can mislead us. That's why we have to rely on those tools, that God in Christ because they analyze us. They keep the goal in mind and they give us the accurate and positive results.
King David also recorded in, you know, turn there in Psalms 139:23 Psalms 139:23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
American King James Version×and 24. He asked and said to God, "Search me out. Search me. Father, try me. See if there's any wickedness. And I want you to know my heart. Know me, inside and out." David wanted God to point out what he needed to work on. He wanted to face it. He didn't want it hiding. He didn't want it lurking. He wanted to work on it. We also need that higher power, like David expressed. And it's simply done by going to our Father and saying, "Search me. Help me, Father. Help me see what wickedness lies in there because I don't want that separation. Because You promised You would never leave me, You would never forsake me, so help me break down what I put as a barrier. I want to draw close to You, as You draw close to me. Search me, Father."
When we search out our solution to the problem, our first step, again, is always turn to the ones who have the power and the tools necessary to do the job. They're the most valuable resource we have when it comes to examination. Again, please, we can never do this alone. We need our Father. We need our elder brother right beside us. And again, who else has this honor? Who else has the honor to turn to their God who sits in heaven, a Lord and Savior, and say, "I want a personal one-on-one with You" and get results? Nothing fake. We're getting live one-on-one results. Because we have a God. We have a Savior who's willing to take the time to work right alongside with us. It says, "I've been working and My Father's been working, and We're part of that work." They're not distant. They're very close. And this should give us a comfort when we enter into these examinations.
Point three, don't compare ourselves to others. One standard, Jesus Christ. Don't compare ourselves to others. There's one standard, and that standard is Jesus Christ. This is a time to focus on self. When we are looking inward we're looking in parts that no one else can see. This is not a selfish outlook, but a time to be personally honest with ourselves. This is why it's called a personal self-examination. We're honest with ourselves. The inward structure of who we are must have a standard far superior than what man can offer. We must turn to Christ to build that spiritual structure. And we can't let others be the judge of who we are in our spiritual state. It's Jesus Christ only.
Galatians 6. Galatians starting in verse 3. Galatians 6:3 Galatians 6:3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
American King James Version×, and I'll be reading this selection from the Amplified. Galatians 6:3 Galatians 6:3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
American King James Version×, "For anyone thinks he has something special when in fact he's nothing special except in his own eyes, he deceives himself. But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work, examining his actions, his attitude, and his behavior, then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another." Verse 5, "For every person will have to bear with patience his own burden of faults and his shortcomings for which he alone is responsible." If we're not careful in our examinations, we can start to compare ourselves to the wrong standard and fail to develop that holy image we're to bear. We can easily justify ourselves when we start comparing ourselves to other people. When we allow ourselves to place another human being on the pedestal that only Jesus Christ belongs, we set ourselves up for that failure, and it's going to hurt when we fall. Our own work will be compared to fault standards. We let another person be hired in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12, just the first two verses. Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×, "Therefore we also, since we're surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin so which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Father… of God.” Excuse me. In a way, brethren, what we're doing is looking at our lives, and we're looking at life with Jesus Christ, and we're putting together a comparison worksheet. We need to ask ourselves, "How is my character compared to that of God and Christ?" Our hearts must reflect our character and our character must reflect that of God's character. Our outward expressions, what everyone else sees, should be the evidence of what's going on inside our hearts. And if it's going to be according to what God's standard is, we have to make sure we're holding ourselves to a holy standard that He provides. If this is the only standard that can bring us life, there should be nothing else that we would want to emulate in our lives. The image that we seek to bear, that holy image is the only image. Nothing less will ever be acceptable in the eyes of our Father.
We must remember what Paul was inspired to write. You don’t have to turn there in 2 Corinthians 10:12 2 Corinthians 10:12For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
American King James Version×, where he says, "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, they’re not wise.” We compare ourself with the greatest standard there is— it’s God the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul is saying it’s foolish. It’s foolish to compare yourselves to other men. Because our identity, our strength, our power, comes from the faith we have in Jesus Christ. Evaluating ourselves according to that high standard of Christ will help us see where we need to grow. And in that same thread, it strengthens our faith. This will give us the boldness we need, even in the face of severe adversities because we have sought to be found in that holy standard. He's our rock. He's that foundation on which we built ourselves upon. Not the weak foundations man can offer but what Christ has offered.
Let's read an example of this over in Acts 4. Acts 4 starting in verse 7. Here we find Peter and John. They're on trial for healing a man in the front of a raged Sanhedrin. Such a sin to heal someone and do good on the Sabbath. Or it was at the temple, excuse me. And they were preaching this Jesus Christ. Acts 4 starting in verse 7. "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, 'By what power or by what name have you done this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to this helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we will be saved.”'"
Verse 13. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it." How was Peter and John able to properly defend themselves? They placed their identity in Jesus Christ and no one else.
Drop down to verse 33, at the same chapter, Acts 4. "And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all." We find God's great grace. That great favor was upon them. Now we know we can't earn God's grace. But when we strive to become as Jesus Christ, living according to that holy standard, we find that God is with us, right beside us. And His wonderful gift of grace, it is upon us. That gift is so important to our calling. It's vital to our walk. We must have this great grace upon us if we're to live according to that holy standard. There is no other standard that can give us this great blessing.
So we must always look at Jesus Christ, not what best man can offer but what He has promised to offer. When we compare ourselves to others, again, we get that false standard. God has never ask us, nor does He desire us to look to society for His standards. On the contrary, He tells us to be holy, which is a stark contrast in difference. There's a profound and crucial differences between the two. Holiness is the eternal standard that we are commanded to aspire to. This principle has continued. We find it from ancient times, to now, and it will be into the future forever and ever. Because we know in Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×, Christ says, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Instead of settling for normal, average, or what we may think is good enough, Jesus Christ instructs us to reach far beyond, reach for perfection because you have the ability to reach for it. He gave us the example. And He is the bar in which we aim. He showed us it's possible with Him working within us.
So if we're looking to others and judging ourselves by what they determine is the standard, we know it won't profit us. In fact, it can lead to other problems in our lives. It leads to depression. It leads to frustration, envy, and a false sense of security. But, brethren, we have the privilege of being called again the saints of the Most High, which according to what we read in Galatians 6:4 Galatians 6:4But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
American King James Version×, looking to that standard, it leads to joy. It leads to happiness. It gives us hope and a clear vision of what God expects of us. We're using a process designed by God that is meant to encourage us every step of the way. It's there to uplift us when we feel low. It's not there to beat us down when we already feel down. It's there to encourage us when we feel that discouragement.
Point four, we must yield to what God reveals. We must yield to what God reveals. Paul recorded something profound in his letter to the Church in Philippi. In Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×, Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Our strength, everything that we can accomplish, is all made possible by yielding to God's will in our lives. The goal of our examinations is to get results. When we ask for help from the Creator, we must be willing to apply the results through our hearts. We can't just ask and then not act upon it. That new inner man, that newness of life that we sought at the baptism, that life in Jesus Christ is only manifested when we act upon the results when we ask God. The results we receive gives us that correction gives us that encouragement so this process continually takes place in our lives. Staying completely objective helps us. It helps us to respond properly. We cannot be influenced by personal feelings, especially when we're presented the facts. When we become subjective we allow ourselves to become influenced by our own personal feelings and we might not yield to the results that God gives us because it blinds us to the truth. Again, even when God lays the facts right in front of our eyes, we defeat that purpose of evaluation in the first place.
If you would, please turn over to James 1. James 1 and starting in verse 21. James 1:21 James 1:21Why lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
American King James Version×says, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness,” we're to get rid of all uncleanness that we find, everything that remains in us that it might reflect a wicked attribute. And he says, "and receive with meekness," have that humble spirit, "receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." James saying, God's word should be rooted deeply in our hearts because this is our true salvation.
Verse 22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." He wants us to prove, to internalize, and to obey. Verse 23, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he's like a man observing his natural face in the mirror; for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it,” who's faithfully abiding by it, “he's not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." What James is pointing out here is when we search out a solution to our problems, we yield to the answers we find. We don't ignore, we implement. To achieve what God has for us, our lives must be according to His perfect plan, not our own. Knowing how to yield and willing to apply the results is just as important as seeking to find out the problem. God instructs us that what He shows us, His will in our life, it has to touch every aspect of our lives. This is what the author expressed in Lamentations 3:40 Lamentations 3:40Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
American King James Version×, where he says, "Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord." The action on the end, he's saying seek, find, and apply. When we truly want to improve our spiritual lives, we apply what God desires to see changed in our lives. We desire His will over our own personal will every time. Even if it's the hardest thing we must face, His will far exceeds our own.
We know that even Jesus Christ, the perfect example of faith, knew God's will was more important than His own. From the beginning of His ministry in Matthew 6 to the final hours of His human life in Matthew 26, Jesus willingly submitted, yielded to what the Father's will was. And He actually stated in John 6:38 John 6:38For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
American King James Version×, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." That should encourage us to follow that example.
1 Peter 5. 1 Peter 5 starting in verse 5. 1 Peter 5:5 1 Peter 5:5Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
American King James Version×, "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due times." Verse 7, "Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you." When we yield to God's will, we can be confident that we won't fail, because ultimately we know we will prevail. He's working in our lives now to perfect us, to establish us in His truth. This will give us the strength to endure, to be settled in an unsettled world.
When we humble ourselves, as we're commanded, and yield to God's perfect will, casting all our cares upon Him, all our anxieties upon Him, the apostle Peter informs us that God will exalt us in due time because He cares, because He deeply has an affection for His children. God is fully invested in you and I. He's committed with His whole heart because He desires to have that one-on-one relationship with each one of us.
He's our Abba. He's our daddy. He's a loving Heavenly Father who wants to hold us, His children in His arms. When we take the time to search, to examine, we're looking on to our daddy and saying, "Help. Help me, Father. I want to be just like You." What loving mother or father would not respond to their child when they come seeking to know and apply the will to their lives? Parents want to, as I mentioned early, they want to hear their children ask for help. They want to. And I want to hear that my opinion still matters to my children. There's a bond that we have that no one else has with our daddy. Our daddy wants us to come to Him.
For our final Scripture, if you'll turn back to Ephesians 3. Ephesians 3 starting in verse 14. Ephesians 3:14 Ephesians 3:14For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width, the length, and depth, and the height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Brethren, as we approach this time examination, let us remember its purpose for our spiritual growth in our maturity. Let's remember that our examination should be approached optimistically. Their results are not to give God reason to punish us. Correction may be needed, but our Father is not there to destroy us. We do these examinations so that we don't become depressed. We examine ourselves to be encouraged, to keep fighting that good fight of faith. It's not always to point out what we've done wrong, but it points out the highlights where we see God actively working in our lives. Our Father wants us to see and He wants us to acknowledge His loving hands working closely in each one of us. It should re-energize our vision to keep pressing forward to that wonderful promise of the kingdom because that's the soul part of our hope, that promise, that Kingdom that we look forward to each and every day.
So let's remember to use the four points so that we can experience examination that God desires to see us engage in. Point one, we must see the need and choose to examine. Two, we cannot attempt our examinations alone. Three, we don't compare ourselves to others. There's one standard, that's Jesus Christ. And the fourth point was we must yield to what God reveals. When we properly prepare, we can be assured that we will experience an effective examination because it will be Christ-centered, and that's the goal. We may have a lot to see to overcome. But we must remember and look just how far we have come. Nothing's too big. Nothing's too great when we focus on that high holy standard. So as we approach the Passover this year, we should be strengthened in the fact that what Jesus Christ expressed in John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×, where He said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Our joy, our hope comes from knowing that that same mighty power that was with Jesus Christ is actively working in each one of us. So we too can be of good cheer. Christ overcame, we can, and we will do the same.