A Key to Blessing: Meditating On Scripture

037We’re advised in scripture to meditate on the bible. Psalm 1:2, contrasting foolish people with the wise says, “…they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” In Joshua’s famous charge to the Israelites he says, “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…” (Joshua 1:8)

But what is meditation? How does it work, exactly?

There’s many different ways in which Christians meditate on the scriptures. One of the most common ways is through focused thought. This is when you fix your thoughts on something for a period of time in a conscious, intentional way. This type of meditation requires that we be fully present with the scripture we are engaging. This is the thought behind Philippians 4:8 where it says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word we translate as ‘meditate’ means to mutter or to moan. The sense here is not of complaining, but or reading the scripture aloud with a heartfelt longing. When you’re faced with a particularly difficult situation in life you may have – or may need to search for – a bible verse that seems to speak to your situation. When you find it, you’ll know – God will confirm his promise in your spirit. Repeat the verse quietly throughout the day – a dozen times, a thousand times. This is the “mutter” part. While doing this, be conscious of God’s presence, and that you are speaking his promise (This is the “moan” part). In essence, you are praying God’s word back to him, asking him to be faithful to his word. God doesn’t hear a thousand prayers any more than he hears one prayer, but this “mutter and moan” form of meditation changes us. It keeps us focused on God and the fulfillment of his promise to us. And I believe that God rewards persistence and perseverance (Luke 18: 1-8)

One of these bible verses that I frequently mutter and moan is Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

There are Christians who make a habit of ‘muttering and moaning’ much larger portions of the scriptures. Many Christians pray through the psalms and The Paraclete Psalter is a terrific resource for doing this. Others meditate on specific passages to achieve a breakthrough in some area of their life – such as Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word or the excellent book from Wesley and Stacy Campbell, Praying the Bible.

Fragrant Good Friday

candle 2I sat in silence and watched the Minister,
Approach the candle then lower his head.
And cup its tiny flickering flame,
As if to embrace, but blew it out instead.

Now just a single white column of smoke remained,
Where seconds ago it was burning bright.
The flame symbolic of Jesus’ life,
Had now been taken from my sight.

I closed my eyes and slowly bowed my head,
And quietly began to pray.
As the scent of the candle now filling the church,
Silently drifted my way.

I came to church, in search of the flame,
Unprepared to witness its death.
And with my heart now increasingly heavy,
I solemnly drew my next breath.

And discovered that it wasn’t until the candle went out,
That I could appreciate its fragrance within.
The gift it had given once the flame was gone,
Our eternal life that Jesus had given.

As it entered my body with each ensuing breath,
How quickly it filled my heart.
His love now replacing my sorrow,
Allowing the healing to start.

And through this insight of His crucifixion,
This precious glimpse not soon forgot.
Every candle I behold now reminds me,
Of why Jesus is alive in my heart.

Doug Langille

Tedd’s Psalm

God 5Today we walked through Psalm 32. Although this is about a very personal experience of the psalmist, we asked “What does this tell us about God?” Tedd recorded our comments and created this psalm:

God is understanding; he is patient.

He forgives our disobedience,

He doesn’t want to lead us around like a mule.

He expects us to be disciplined in how we affect others,

and to ask for forgiveness and confess our sins.

He want us to have joy,and victory over our sin.

God provides us with a pathway,

extends his hand – does not tempt us!

He is our protector, our hiding place, and our guide.

God asks us to be pure in heart,

and to be aware of who we serve.

“I Am The Gate” (John 10:9)

Jesus IconicWhen Jesus said, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures,” he was undoubtedly speaking about a sheep-fold. These were stone or branch enclosures where a shepherd would bring his sheep to bed down for the night. It represented safety and security, not just because the enclosure kept wolves at bay but because the shepherd would remain nearby through the night. Jesus was drawing a stark contrast between himself and the religious leaders of his day, who he described as ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers’. When we enter a relationship with Christ we find safety and security. We can “come and go freely” not only because the sheep-fold exists but because the Shepherd is present with us.

Jesus’ words also suggest a deeper meaning. When the Jewish people returned from captivity in Babylon their first task was to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem. They began this work by rebuilding the “Sheep Gate,” called thus because it was the gate through which the priests brought the sheep to be sacrificed in the Temple. The rebuilding of the Sheep Gate was led by the High Priest, Eliashib. (Nehemiah 3: 1-2)

The Sheep Gate is a picture of our salvation in Christ. The sacrificial lambs of Old Testament time shed their blood as a covering for sin, and now Christ has shed his blood as atonement for our sin. (Romans 3:25) The Sheep Gate was built by the High Priest, and now Christ is our High Priest. (Hebrews 8) It’s also no coincidence that the High Priest’s name – Eliashib – means, “God restores,” and that this High Priest was restoring the gate that led to the altar of forgiveness, and that gate was a picture of Christ, who restores us to a right relationship with God. All of this represents Jesus who is the way in which we enter into the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is the “Sheep’s Gate.”

The 3rd chapter of Nehemiah describes the re-building of Jerusalem’s walls and that chapter begins and ends with the Sheep Gate, just as everything about our relationship with God always returns to Jesus. In 1517 the Sultan Suleiman, as the result of a dream, renamed this gate “The Lion’s Gate,” unknowingly foretelling the time when Jesus will return not as the Lamb That Was Slain, but as the Lion of Judah. (Rev. 5: 5)

What’s the point of all this? Well… God is working in multiple dimensions at once. Always has been, always will be. And if he can weave this amount of detail together over centuries of history then he can handle the details of my life right now. We serve a God who is not surprised by what is happening to us today, and won’t be surprised by what happens tomorrow. And seeing God’s hand in history like this makes me realize that, truly, “…all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” Whatever you’re worried about today… God has got it covered. Your situation may not turn out the way you hope, but – if you’re willing – God will use it for a greater good.

When God’s Answer is Delayed…

supernaturalMore from “Supernatural Transformation” by Guillermo Maldonado:

Sometimes, receiving and answer to our prayers is not so much a matter of faith but rather of trusting God when the fulfillment of His promise seems to be delayed. We must realize that we won’t immediately receive everything we are ask for. The Scriptures tell us, “The testing of [our] faith produces patience. (James 1:3) This statement indicates that while we are exercising our faith, a period of time may pass. That doesn’t mean that we are supposed to stay sick or defeated until Christ returns. Rather, it tells us that we must persevere in order to obtain our promises and miracles form God.

What should we do when the promise doesn’t manifest immediately? We should ask the Holy Spirit to give us discernment regarding which type of faith to exercise in a given situation and moment – either “now” faith that receives the manifestation immediately, or faith that perseveres until God is ready to release the miracle for us to receive. We should also wait faithfully and confidently for the manifestation of the promise.

Guarding Your Heart

supernaturalThis book is pretty much rocking my world right now.

“Allow me to share a word of advice from the Bible that is useful in protecting the heart: Be careful about what, and whom, you listen to. (See, for example, Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 4:29) Don’t accept words of doubt or fear; don’t receive – or join in with – other people’s murmuring and complaining. As you guard the gate of your heart grant admittance only to words that build and edify your faith, that bring you peace and joy, and that encourage truth, holiness, and a desire to seek God in a deeper way. “Listen” closely to God’s Word as you read and study the Scriptures. Your heart needs to be guarded in peace.”

I Am The Light Of The World

Jesus IconicIn the creation story, the first thing God said was, “Let there be light.” This light immediately separates day from night. Yet if we read on in the first chapter of Genesis we learn the sun was not created until day four. How could we have light in the world – dividing day from night – before the sun was created? There are various theories and ideas about this. Some ancient rabbis believed that the ‘light’ of Genesis 1:3 was the Messiah and that this shows God – from the beginning of creation – understood that the Messiah was to come to God’s people. (The Apostle Paul shared this belief – see 2 Corinthians 4:6)This is part of what Jesus was referring to when he said, “I am the Light of the world.”

Jesus made this extraordinary statement in the Women’s Court of the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. In this courtyard were four huge bowls filled with oil, from which four smaller bowls of oil were suspended. These were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles at sundown, and worshippers danced for joy in their light. These blazing lamps represented the ‘fire by night’ that led the Israelites through the wilderness. Jesus was probably standing in the light of these great lamps when he said, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.”

John’s Gospel begins with an account of John the Baptist and the Gospel writer says this: “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” Where was John baptizing? In the Jordan River – the dividing line between the wilderness the Israelites wandered in and the Promised Land they were to call their home and it was to this very river that the “pillar of fire” led them. When he says, “I am the light of the world” Jesus is hearkening back to thousands of years of Jewish history while indicating that he is still the one to lead us to our ‘promised land’ today.

“I Am the Bread of Life”

Jesus IconicIn John 6, Jesus feeds a crowd of more than 5,000 using a five loaves of bread and a two fish. The next day, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the crowds appear once more, looking for more bread. To their request Jesus replies, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

Jesus then goes on to describe himself as the “…living bread that came down from heaven,” referencing the manna God provided to the Israelites in the wilderness. The people looking for bread are seeing only the physical, material world and want only a physical, material benefit from Jesus. Instead, Jesus offers them something entirely different – eternal life. Jesus is saying that what we really hunger and thirst for is not food or drink, but life. We must, of course, eat food and drink water, and these will keep us alive. But Jesus is offering us a reason to live, a purpose to life, offering us the energy and vitality to live life to its fullest. That reason and purpose to life is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the energy and vitality of a life lived to its fullest comes from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Our western, rational minds want to believe that this physical world is all we have. Jesus sees things differently. ”But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food,” Jesus says. “Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.” The only way this statement can make sense is if Jesus has the ability to give us eternal life, and if that eternal life is a life worth pursuing. Jesus knew exactly who he was and exactly what he had to offer the world. Do you?

For Further Reflection:

  •  Exodus 16
  • John 6
  • Deuteronomy 8:3
  • 1 Corinthians 2:14
  • Matthew 6:11
  • Matthew 4:4
  • 2 Corinthians 10:14-17

Part 1 of this series is here / Part 2 /