According to the Dictionary of Psychology, secular meditation "is considered an exercise during which the individual enters an extended state of contemplation and reflection over a specific subject or their general existence, sometimes with a view to attain a differing state of consciousness".
As many of you will know from my second book "From New Age to New Creation: Set Free", I was fully into the New Age movement before I became a born again follower of Jesus. As part of this, I was a devotee of meditation, which I practised regularly. My preferred method - which I had learned during a 10-day silent Buddhist meditation retreat - was on the breath. As I meditated on my breath, I would contemplate or "watch" my thoughts come and go. My aim was to have a completely empty mind - with no thoughts whatsoever.
What I did not realise at that time was that an empty mind is like a doorway - an invitation for ungodly influences to enter. Unknowingly, I was venturing into dangerous territory.
In contrast, biblical meditation is focused thinking on the Scriptures, so that we can more effectively apply God's truth to our lives. In Isaiah 55:8-9 Scripture teaches us that His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways. So, we want to exchange our thinking for His own. We seek to know God and to renew our minds in Him, through Christ Jesus. As 1 Corinthians 2:16 teaches: For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is, simply, a process by the Holy Spirit in which the Word of God becomes a living reality in our lives.
We want to renew our minds (Romans 12:2) - to be the same way (as in 1 Peter 1:14) as obedient children, not living in ignorance of what God wants us to think and how God instructs us to live.
We go from conforming to the world to being transformed by God's Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit living inside each of us. The renewing of our mind, as defined Romans 12:2 is like a renovation, a restoration to freshness or an original state. It hints at the potential of redemption's power to reinstate features of God's original intention for humanity before the Fall.
The definition of the mind in this Scripture comprises the intellect or the understanding, as well as the feelings and the will. The renewal of our mind encompasses our thoughts; leading to the formulation of our purposes; which dictates our actions; which become our character-defining habits.
This is the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives to institute godly living within us.
Are you starting to see, even with just this small amount of Scripture, how profound the potential is for transformation of our whole lives, by committing to meditating on God's Word?
HOW DO WE EMBRACE BIBLICAL MEDITATION?
Embracing the practise of biblical meditation and allowing it to soak into our spirit requires us, first and foremost, to be willing to submit and commit to our Heavenly Father's provision and His ways. He has given us everything we need. But we must be willing to come into His presence and in order to do this we MUST be willing to commit to regularly read and go deeper into His Holy Word.
Meditating on God's Word is something that will allow us to grow and deepen our relationship with Him, bringing His Word into us and enriching us, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
GROWING IN GOD'S WORD
Growing in God's Word, illuminated by His Holy Spirit, can be likened to growing from babyhood to adulthood. When a baby is born, biologically he has everything he needs to grow into maturity; it just takes time for this to happen. One of the things a baby needs most, in order to begin the process of growth, is milk. It is the same for our spiritual progress. 1 Peter 2.2 says this: as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. It is plain that we must have the desire for the pure milk of God's Word and then commit to reading it, in order to grow. From this we can proceed to the next stage, which is meditating on God's Word. Progressing through the stages of godly development is not possible without meditation on the Scriptures. We must know what God says; what He tells us about His character; what He promises us as His children; what He desires us to think and be and do in every facet of our daily lives.
Meditating on God's word, memorising His Scriptures, will see us transform into people who grow daily by faith through both the challenges and triumphs in life: 2 Corinthians 5:7 we walk by faith, not by sight and who become His disciples, living in the freedom of His truth: John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE SCRIPTURES?
And the nature of the Scriptures is that they are given by inspiration of God in order that we may be complete and thoroughly equipped, as in 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Inspiration of God, in this Scripture, literally means "God-breathed" (translated from the Greek word theopneustos). Scripture is therefore the product of God's creative breath, directly breathed from God Himself. It goes beyond human inspiration or intellect - there was not one writer who contributed to the production of the Holy Scriptures who was not moved by the Holy Spirit Himself (2 Peter 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit).
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a Helper who He would send once He had gone away (John 16:7). He then elaborates on this in John 16:12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. We as believers are given the Holy Spirit as the seal of salvation when we first accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour - as in Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Are you beginning to see from this just how powerful Scripture is - the product of God's creative breath, no less - and how we have the Helper - the Holy Spirit - to guide and illuminate God's Word as we go deeper into reading in the Bible? And what an incredible foundation reading God's Word and growing in our faith is for our lives?
THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE COMPLETE, THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK
As 2 Timothy 3:17 tells us, Scripture is given to us by God, in order that we may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work - improved, equipped, trained and discipled; making the necessary adjustments and repairs to our lives. This is an ongoing process as we practise being good and faithful servants (Matthew 25:23) in order to honour our King, the Lord Jesus. Soaking in God's Word by meditating on His Holy Scriptures will grow our walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) as we run our race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) and allow God to develop His good fruit and godly character within us.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT - SELF-CONTROL
Committing to practising biblical meditation is no different to committing to anything in our lives; it requires self-control to follow through. Ask yourself: "What am I committed to right now with regards to my reading of the Bible? Do I do this regularly, or don't I?" You will either by committed to reading the Bible regularly, or not. It is a simple decision that is made fresh every day and then followed through with, until it becomes a habit. It takes self-control to prioritise our time and then follow through. It is not always easy and we often need to push through with relentless persistence, because the enemy of this fallen world will do everything possible to distract us and keep us from growing our faith and staying close with God.
The struggle is real, because:
We are in the flesh. The Apostle Paul speaks at length of our struggle, especially in Romans 7:19-21 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. One of the laws of the spiritual realm is that any motion or progress towards growing our faith will produce "friction" (as in the laws of physics: anything in motion causes friction) between our flesh and our spirit. Paul is willing to do good but evil is present within him (as it is within all of us). We are saved by grace and then our task is to grow our faith, with hope to being overcomers given through the abiding presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us (Romans 7:24-8:4 and John 14:26-27).
We are in a spiritual battle. In John 14:30 Jesus says: "...the ruler of this world is coming, and He has nothing in Me." The ruler of this fallen world will stop at nothing to keep people separate from their Creator. The father of lies (John 8:44) specialises in distraction, discouragement and deception - even appearing as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) There is a spiritual battle raging right here, right now, as spoken of in Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Keeping this in mind, our decision and persistence to go deeper into God's Word by meditating on His Holy Scriptures will gradually bring a shift from it being a discipline to becoming an obedience, rooted in the heart's judgments and convictions. As we read in Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
We go deeper into God's Word and this ushers us into His throne room; into His Holy presence as we soak in the majesty and mystery of His unfailing and unwavering love.
MEDITATION ON SCRIPTURE IS ESSENTIAL TO CHRISTIAN LIVING
Let's look at some of the Scriptures which talk about biblical meditation and how it is an essential practice for Christian living.
1. Joshua 1:8. In this Scripture, Moses has just passed away and the Lord God is speaking to Joshua about inheriting the Promised Land. In Joshua 1:6, 1:7 and 1:9 and later in 1:18, the Lord speaks to Joshua about being strong and courageous. Then, in 1:8, He says this: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success". The recitation of these words is active, a re-speaking of God's words; therefore, they shall not depart from your mouth. The Lord speaks to Joshua about meditating in it day and night, soaking in it, going into it, allowing it to filter into every part of him - mind, body, heart, soul and spirit.
Being strong and courageous is increased through meditating in the Scriptures day and night. It is our armour (Ephesians 6.11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil) and our strong shield of faith.
2. The Psalms: The Psalms are a literal powerhouse of Scriptures which speak to us about meditating on God's Word and how it is an essential practice for Christian living. Some examples are:
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in his law He meditates day and night. By regularly studying and thinking deeply about the Bible and delighting in Scripture, we learn who God is and what His guidance is in all aspects and decisions of life.
Psalm 8 - The Glory of the LORD in Creation;
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 119 - Meditations on the Excellencies of God;
This stunning Psalm mentions meditation in verses 11; 15; 23; 48; 78; 97; 99; and 148.
One particularly beautiful verse is 103, which is what Scripture should be to every believer: How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
MEDITATION ON GOD'S GLORY IN NATURE
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Walking in nature and being aware of the splendour of God's creation - His handiwork - is also a wonderful opportunity to meditate on God's glory in nature.
MEDITATION ON GOD HIMSELF
We should also regularly reflect and meditate on God Himself and His many works.
Psalm 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire (meditate) in His temple.
Psalm 63.6; Psalm 77:5-6, 11-12; Psalm 111:2; 119:27; 143:5; 145:5.
DEVELOPING THE DISCIPLINE OF BIBLICAL MEDITATION
There is no quick and easy fix as to how this can be achieved. It is something that is dynamic, ever-growing and ever-evolving as we journey deeper and deeper into God's Word and our relationship with Him. It requires willingness, diligence and obedience to commit to being consistent in this discipline.
Memorising Scripture: So that we can call on them at any time in our daily life; in order to know what God says about any situation we may be faced with. Choose a Scripture and read it, repeat the reading, write it out, then re-write it. Turn it over and over in your mind. Hand in hand with this, call on the indwelling Holy Spirit to illuminate the text and give His guidance, so that the Scriptures start to put down roots both in your mind and your heart.
Pray your Scripture: We can use Scripture in our prayers. An excellent book "Transforming Prayer: How everything changes when you seek God's Face" by Daniel Henderson, speaks about using Scripture when we pray. Meditation can move into prayer and prayer back into meditation. Daniel Henderson has also written another excellent book about the Holy Spirit "Transforming Presence: How the Holy Spirit Changes Everything - From the Inside Out". Both of these books are available on Amazon.
Praise: Praising and worshiping our Lord for who He is and what He has done - and how this has been revealed in Scripture - is a natural outflowing of meditation. Growing deeper in our relationship with Jesus will naturally lead to us adoring and celebrating Him in praise and worship.
Practice: and continue to practice. You can use the Scriptures from this message and also choose the Scriptures which speak to your heart and mind.
Start Slowly: If you are not accustomed to going deeper into God's Word, then you can start slowly. You can choose a verse and commit to memorising it and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and illumination (shining a light, as in Psalm 119:105). For me, one of the first verses I ever memorised was 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I was going through a very hard time where my elder daughter was extremely ill and I was very worried that her sickness might claim her life. I literally clung to the promise of that Scripture. Whenever fear would try to claim a grip on me, I would know this verse as God's truth and I would renew my mind with it, applying it as an antidote to the lies of the enemy.
I pray that you have been blessed by this, and that you are inspired to go deeper into God's Word and your relationship with Him by practising this most worthy and essential discipline.
I encourage you all to lean in closer to Jesus during this challenging time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Take this opportunity to commit to going deeper in your relationship with God and to growing in His ways. God is on the throne and none of what is happening comes as a surprise to Him. You can trust Him with all and any of your concerns.