Examen (week 3)

Introduction: Gather together with a warm greeting and any necessary introductions. If you’re joining us here… welcome. Let’s sit down and chat a while.

Prayer: Begin with a minute of silence. Breathe in… breathe out… Allow the cares of the day to fall away. Don’t worry, you can pick them up when we’re done if you feel you need to.

Holy Spirit, come. Fill this place with your presence. Speak to us and through us in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Touchstone Reminder: Listen

Listening requires both the giving and receiving of grace. Last week we practiced asking for grace. We encouraged you to pay close attention, being alert to catch an unexpected sound from the Spirit speaking silently to your heart in what was being said.

  • What did you learn about your own listening skills this week?
  • Was there something you paid close attention to?
  • Did God catch your attention in some way?
  • What did you hear?

Share:

We’ve practiced the first two parts of Examen. We’ve invited God in with a warm and friendly welcome, and poured out our heart’s desires before Him.

  • What can you share about your prayer time this week?
  • Did you feel stuck? Get distracted?
  • How did pouring out your heart’s desires affect you?
  • Did you get to something deeper?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Did you hear more about your one word?

Community:

Take a moment to read the quote a few times. Consider each word and how it speaks to you.

Having a teachable spirit means inviting correction.

Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key

  • What words speak to you?
  • What is a teachable spirit? Do you consider yourself teachable?
  • What is your first response when you receive correction?

Stacy Says:

For most of my life correction was something I avoided at all costs. For many years my mode of dealing with correction was defensiveness. I found it hard to accept correction as a form of God’s grace.

Recently I was struggling with a decision, and I asked the sister what she thought. She didn’t hesitate long before she shared honestly. I didn’t like her answer, but I knew she was right. She spoke boldly. I knew she would, and that’s why I asked. It hurt. But not in the old way. Not in the “she doesn’t understand” defensive way.

It hurt because I recognized God’s truth in it, and my squirming around the decision was my way of escaping what God called me to do. The battle was short lived after that. I surrendered to His way even though it has and still is causing me discomfort.

I found a weird joy in this. I’ve been praying for a teachable heart for some time now. My quick surrender was a sign of transformation. No, it didn’t change the circumstance, but it brought me to surrender. And surrender brought peace and joy in an unexpected place.

The idea of inviting correction into our lives seems like a foolish idea to a prideful heart. And make no mistake, every one of us is pride-full from the get-go. We only want to invite pleasant agreeable people and things into our lives. Not correction.

invite – verb1a: to offer an incentive or inducement to: entice b: to increase the likelihood of 2a: to request the presence or participation of b: to request formally c: to urge politely: welcome

–Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)

Sin itself “entices” correction into our lives and increases the likelihood of it showing up. When we receive God’s ultimate grace of forgiveness it is because we recognize we are wrong. From that point we should actively urge correction to come and show us where we are wrong.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Knowing our unrighteousness separates us from God is reason enough to invite correction into our lives. Understanding this truth draws us closer to God and prepares us to receive His grace no matter its source: His Word, His Spirit, His people.

Carol says:

Very early on in my walk with God, I openly invited His correction into my life.

I told Him I was all in. If His Word said it then I would receive it as truth. If I didn’t understand it, I was the one in the wrong and not Him. If I didn’t like it, well I’d trust Him to walk me through it.

Yet, this upfront approach to my wrongness and His rightness, didn’t make it easy to receive the grace of correction. When it came, I was often surprised and mortified. But each time, in the aftermath, I found myself grateful for His revelation of truth, His forgiveness, and His great grace in not leaving me wrong… even though I thought I was right.

God’s grace includes graciously revealing where we are wrong. It convicts and transforms us from dark to light, from corrupt to holy, from crooked to straight. But only when we keep our hearts teachable and we are willing to listen.

Read Titus 2:11-14

What did God’s grace come to do?

God’s grace appeared to bring salvation for all people and provide training in righteousness. Salvation includes our redemption and purification for God’s glory as He prepares us for good works.

Read Titus 2:15-3:7

These words were written to Titus, a young pastor under Paul’s instruction, words of wisdom for establishing a new church.

How was Titus called to lead? What was involved?

Why were these instructions given?

Paul told Titus to exhort and rebuke with authority, to make sure no one disregarded his teaching. It was to be taken seriously.

Exhort means “to incite by argument or advice: to urge strongly” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary). The word rebuke has the same connotation. These are strong words Paul spoke to Titus as a pastor.

  • What is your first response to these two words?
  • What emotions do these words stir in you?
  • How do you react when a church leader “steps on your toes”?
  • Do you think our response might hinder a leader’s willingness to live out their call?

Paul encouraged Titus to be authoritative when it came to teaching the foundation of the gospel, the things Jesus taught: respect authority, be obedient, ready to do good, speak evil of no one and do not argue, be perfectly courteous to all people. Titus was called to be tough when it came to teaching grace.

The church is made up of a ragtag bunch of sinners on a road of redemption for the purpose of glorifying God’s grace, recognizing none of us deserve what He has given. God loves us just as we are, but He refuses to leave us in the mess He found us.

  • Are we willing to listen when we are told we are wrong?
  • How do you respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit? the correction of others?
  • What should we do with correction?

First and foremost correction is God’s job. When we receive correction from others the first step is to take it the throne of God. Asking God for truth and clarity in the situation. He is faithful to answer and through correction He leads us closer to Him.

We must also recognize our role in exhortation and rebuke. Paul was writing to Titus, a pastor leading a specific congregation. These were his people, his flock. All of us are called to lead in some area. As parents we lead our children, fathers lead their families, Sunday school teachers have a class to lead. These are the areas where exhortation and rebuke do their best work because God has granted us the grace to share in love. Always, always exhortation and rebuke should be wrapped in love.

  • Who is God currently calling you to lead?
  • How have you been faithful to exhort and rebuke in your leadership role?
  • What grace did you recognize in it?

Carol says:

Harder than receiving the grace of His conviction, is the call to rebuke or correct a friend.

It hasn’t happened often, but when it does I do it with great trepidation, humility, and with much prayer. And I can say, the ones He’s called me to confront are those with whom I have a relationship.

There have been times when I’ve recognized error in another’s life, but the Spirit did not press me to correct them. Without a relationship, correction, invited or not, is often unwelcome and rejected.

Community prepares the groundwork of relationship where correction is offered in love and hearts become teachable. Both our relationship with God and others makes the way for us to grow in receiving and giving grace.

Spiritual Discipline: Examen

We began the Examen journey by welcoming God into our hearts, inviting His presence to make Himself known right where we are. Next we asked for His grace, His favor, pouring out our hearts to Him.

This week we go deeper into the spiritual discipline of Examen, adding to our first two steps by reviewing our day with God and prayerfully considering our actions and thoughts.

One way to do this is to imagine the day like a movie replaying in your mind. What happened? Who did you see? What did you do? Ask God to reveal when you felt closest to Him, and when you felt far from Him.

As we consider our thoughts and actions of the day, ask God about them and respond to what you hear.

Examining our day with God leads us face to face with the moments we recognized God and times we missed His presence. Looking over our day with a teachable heart, we move beyond the surface and discover the understanding our souls long for. There will be repentance and rejoicing. Remembering to receive and give grace in these moments is an important part of our spiritual growth.

God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.

Titus 2:11-12 The Message

Closing Prayer:

Father thank you so much for your grace. Grace to listen and grace to gently steer us back on course. Show us how to have teachable hearts. Amen.

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