SERMON SERIES | DISCIPLINES FOR SABBATH-REST (2)
Christian Reflection (Examen)
09 MAY 2021 | TRADITIONAL SERVICE
Rev David Ho
Scripture Passage: Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (VIDEO)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Our complex modern lives often leave us restless, burdened and hurried. The time for the deep silences of the heart are so few. We must pause to reflect, or we will be driven by the tyranny of the urgent - consumed by our inner fears and compulsions - and shaped by the values of the world.
Christian reflection is more than deep intellectual thinking. It is being with God with our thoughts. It is not an emptying of our minds and escape from reality; rather, it is seeking to remove the distractions, including the noises within, so that our hearts and thoughts may be guided by the Word and tutored by the Holy Spirit. The discipleship of our thought life is so as not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:2).
In today’s passage, the Psalmist reflects on the:
Presence of God
In stilling his heart to attend to the presence of God, the Psalmist is thankful and relieved that the Lord has searched and knows him completely. God is present even in his innermost thoughts and knows his words before he utters them. It is also important for us to pause and reflect on God’s presence in every situation, and to know that He will lead us in our times of need. God fully knows and loves us and will never forsake us (Ps139: 1-6).
Purity of Heart (Examen)
King David was anguished about the wicked enemies of the Lord and he brought these anxieties to God (v19-22). Remarkably, he did not petition God to search the hearts of the enemies and punish them. Instead, he asked God to search, test and know his own heart and anxious thoughts, and to reveal any motives and thoughts that were offensive to the Lord (v23-24). This correct posture before God reflects his trust in God’s heart. King David’s openness and vulnerability to the searchlight of God’s truth contrasts starkly with Adam and Eve who hid from God and one another. When we invite Him to search our hearts, God will sanctify and lovingly redeem us. The goal of Christian reflection is not just self knowledge, but in order that God can lead us in the way everlasting.
Purposes of God
What really matters is God’s purpose for our lives. In God’s presence and with hearts yearning to grow in purity, He will help us to discern the divine assignments He has for us in our lives. God wants to interact with us in our reflections and thoughts. Let’s press the pause button and reflect on the truth of His unfailing presence in our lives and everlasting love. We have a rock that can never be shaken. God is with us and will provide peace for our souls in every circumstance.
(Sermon Notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. How would you describe Christian reflection and why is it an important aspect of discipleship? How is Christian reflection different from Eastern meditation practices (which may entail emptying our minds)?
2. Reflect on the Presence of God: Read Psalm 139:1-5. How might reflecting on God’s faithful presence grant you comfort in times of challenge?
3. Reflect on the Purity of your Heart: To what extent are you aware of your thoughts, feelings and motives? How might examining your heart regularly with God help you grow in Christlikeness?
4. Practice Examination with God (Examen): Try praying Psalm 139: 23-24 and spend time in silent reflection, listening to what God might be saying. Share your experience.
Try practicing the Examen as set out in pg. 17-18 of the Sabbath-Rest Journal (Book 2) and/or watch Wesley’s Holy Tuesday Service’s teaching on the Examen.
5. Reflect on the Purposes of God: How might practicing Christian reflection help you to discern and align to God’s purposes for your life?