Friday, January 6, 2017

The importance of Christian meditation in one's daily devotional life

Related image
note: above image derives from a photo off of The point of the picture is to highlight the goal of having daily devotions and meditating on God's Word: spiritual maturity. 

Joshua 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Introducing an important concept in reinforcing one's daily quiet time with God: Christian meditation

Whenever you read a passage of scripture or hear a sermon, do you remember any of it five to ten minutes later. If you find, like I do, the inability to recall what was read or heard, it is a sign of the need of a very important Christian spiritual discipline called by the scriptures and Christians of old: "meditation". 

Unfortunately, when people hear the word "meditate", they conjure up images of a person sitting cross legged with hands out-stretched, finger-tips touching and the hum of the word "um". As is always the case, the enemy of our souls counterfeits the genuine articles God revealed for the betterment of the Christian.  Today we want to consider this very important concept for bridging the time one spends in their quiet-time with God to that of their daily routine: Christian meditation on God's Word.

Defining Christian Mediation
In the original language of this Psalm, the word "meditation" has to do with a "deeper pondering" over the meaning and significance of the words of scripture. We see in the above opening verses the core meaning of this concept of "meditation". Joshua 1:8 conceives of meditation on God's Word as ensuring that one won't forget what they just read or heard. In Psalm 19 we find that meditation is that "deeper pondering" that aims to make the believer's life a pleasurable one before God. The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 envisions such mediation as internalizing the virtues gleaned from God's Word and stirred-up by the Holy Spirit's kindling of the heart's affections. Ancient Christian writers often spoke of a fourfold process one went through when interacting with the Bible:

a. Reading the text

b. Meditating on the text

c. Disciplining yourself to live out the text

d. Knowing that you got the meaning of the text by praising and worshiping God.

It is the second step that bridges one's "reading" of the Bible to the realm of life application (the third step) and a lifestyle devoted to worship of God (the fourth step). 

A suggested way of meditating on God's Word
The following steps are a suggested method for practically meditating on God's Word:

1. Read the text

2. Read it again (out-loud or silently)

3. Read it a third time, marking down your initial thoughts or verbalizing to yourself what you read

4. Walk away and think on what you read

5. Come back to the text again and repeat steps 1 through 4

So Why meditate on God's Word?
Every blog I write, sermon I preach, lesson I teach, quiet time I do or sharing of God's word that I communicate requires meditation on God's Word.  When you and I meditate on scripture, we are aiming to get it from before our eyes or in our ears to reside in our hearts and out in our actions.  Meditation is what you do "in between" your times in the scriptures. You can meditate while waiting in line at the grocery store, on break at work or at lunch room at school.  As a husband, father and pastor living in the 21st century, I experience the demands that life places upon me. What mediation does is break down the artificial wall between "Christian spirituality" and "the rest of life". Without this discipline, the ability to keep ones mind clear of clutter and ones obedience clear of procrastination will be great limited. Meditating on God's Word in indeed important, but what benefits can we note about this practice?

The benefits of Christian Mediation
Notice the benefits that comes as a result of mediating on God's Word here in Psalm 19:14:

1. Right Attitudes - The Psalmist desires to please God.  Only scripture can stir up the Christian to want to live more for the Lord. (1 Peter 2:1-2)

2. Right Thoughts - How many of you want a better thought-life?  Cleanse your mind with the scriptures.
Meditating on the scripture cleanses our heart and mind.  Jesus even talks about this particular quality of the word of God. (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26).

3. Right Words -  He wants the right words to flow from his mouth.  God's word makes your "have to's" into "want to's".  As Jesus teaches, out of the overflow of the hearts comes forth the words of the mouth. (Matthew 15:18)

4. Right Motivation - The Psalmist ends this Psalm by praising God, His "Rock" and His "Redeemer".  We know from the names of God in the Bible that the term "Rock" refers ultimately to Jesus Christ.  Though the Psalmist lived 1,000 years before Jesus Christ came to this earth, He writing under Divine inspiration was referring to Him.  

Closing thoughts
When you and I meditate on the scriptures, we will be motivated to live for Jesus Christ and have a stronger daily walk with the Lord.