Biblical Meditation

You will be aware from my previous posts on – Word Count – that I am endeavouring to complete several book projects this year. In a recent flurry of writing, I was thinking about the topic of biblical meditation. I always make sure I define this term, as meditation can mean different things to different people. By meditation, I mean the constant study and review of God’s Word.

I share below a brief extract of the chapter I have been working on. I hope that it blesses you, and ideally, what’s your appetite for the entire book when it is ready!

There are some references to points I make earlier in the chapter, not  here given, but I hope that will not detract from the post.

I am reminded of these verses from Joshua:

Be strong and courageous; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

Joshua 1:6-8 (WEB)

This is God speaking to Joshua after the death of Moses, and just prior to him (Joshua) leading the people of Israel to capture the land.

Having emphasised Joshua’s need to be strong and courageous (more than once), the Lord tells him to be careful to observe all the commands that Moses gave them. This, known as the “Law” is never to depart from Joshua’s mouth.

The idea of the Law not departing from Joshua’s mouth implies a constant; to “not depart” means it is ever present. God’s Word must be at the centre of our lives at all times. We cannot hope to observe all that it commands us to do unless we keep it before us.

In our human weakness, if we do not maintain a persistent effort to keep the Bible at the forefront of what we do, it will easily slip in priority to second, third or subsequent place – behind other less important matters.

The book of the Law must not depart from where? From Joshua’s mouth. This can only mean that he is to speak it out loud time and again. As we discussed above, one meaning of “meditation” is to mutter or utter, and so here we see another instruction to keep the Word on our lips.

The phrase in verse 8 – “shall meditate on it day and night” – is almost word-for-word the same as that of Psalm 1:2. There is no time outside of day or night, and we always find ourselves living in either the day light or the night hours. To meditate day and night is another way of saying all the time. Occasionally is not enough; neither is most of our time. Success and blessing come from day and night meditation on the Scriptures.

The Lord reminds Joshua that if he is careful to do all that is commanded of him, then his way will be prosperous and he will enjoy good success. Psalm 1 tells us we will be blessed if we delight in God’s Word, meditating on it day and night. To be blessed in this way is to enjoy good success, and not the world’s kind, but God’s kind of success.

I read the Bible regularly, but I cannot admit to frequent nor constant meditation. Too often do I use tiredness as an excuse, or pick up the TV remote. I will never have biblical success filling my mind with the world’s entertainment.

Day and night, I must meditate on God’s Word, and must speak it freely from my mouth. Instead of complaining and grumbling, I ought rather to speak out the Word of life.

Studying this subject has been a real conviction to me. I share some of it here with you, and hope you too will step more deeply into the Bible. Let it not depart from your lips, and let your way be prosperous. In Jesus’ Name! Amen

One Thing I Ask

The one thing I ask of the Lord—

    the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

    delighting in the Lord’s perfections

    and meditating in his Temple.

Psalm 27:4 (WEB)

I recall a time when I was speaking to a group of students about what heaven might be like. One of them thought it would be like a perpetual praise service, with unending worship, music and dancing. Another student thought that sounded more like torture than paradise!

In this verse from the Psalms, King David is making a request. He does not ask for gold or silver, victory in battle nor wives and children. Instead, he requests that he might live in the house of the Lord all the days of his life.

Does that sound like something you would want?

Sometimes we are guilty of wanting the gifts more than the Giver, and for seeking God’s presents instead of His presence. The Lord Himself is our reward though, and far greater than any gift we could want.

The psalm points out two things we might do in His presence.

The first is to delight! Delight is a wonderful word, and means to have a “high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.” That sounds like something we want to do more of! Delighting in what though? In the Lord’s perfections. We might think of this as delighting in God’s character or attributes.

God is an infinite God, with wonders beyond measure. A day dwelling on who He is and enjoying His character is a day well spent in my book. How often do you set aside time to do nothing else but simply enjoy the Lord?

The second thing is meditation. Meditation is not emptying one’s mind of thought, but instead it is filling it with the wonders of God and His Word. It is said that meditation is like rumination, which is the action of a cow chewing the grass over and over again. When we meditate on God, we are deploying our thinking on all the goodness of His character and ways.

To meditate on the Lord is, I believe, to begin to delight in Him also. One leads to the other. The more we meditate, the more delighted we become, and the more delighted we are, the more we want to dwell on who He is.

Paul says, in Philippians:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

You need not think about everything that pops into your head, but can direct your thoughts on to Jesus.

You need not #think about everything that pops into your head, but can direct your thoughts on to #Jesus. #Bible

Set aside some time when you can, even if it is just fifteen minutes, and delight yourself in the Lord. Make a list of all the good things He has done for you, and note down the aspects of His character which most excite you. It will be time well spent indeed!

For more thoughts on Philippians 4:8, check out my post – Pure vs OK

Consider My Groaning?

Today I share a video message thinking about prayer, “groaning” and biblical meditation. The focus of the video is Psalm 5:1, which says:

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.

Psalm 5:1 (ESV)

And in another translation:

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.

Psalm 5:1 (KJV)

Hope you enjoy the video!

Sometimes the preview loads upside down, apologies! It will play just fine!

Still on Lockdown

Since being on lockdown here in the UK, time has lost some of its meaning. When the lockdown was first introduced, I wrote a post about it. I genuinely don’t know if that was a week ago or three! Today’s post is something of a follow up to that one. 

The post was called – While on Lockdown– and you can have a read of it by clicking the link. 

In that original post, I wrote about us all being very careful about what we allow into our minds during this rather trying time. I advised everyone to avoid too much negative news and influences that would cause us to worry rather than build us up. 

So many of us constantly read the news, and it is rarely positive. If not on the news sites, then chances are we are exploring social media and this is hardly ever more positive. We must be so careful about this. We absorb this negativity in and it cannot help but do our spirits and minds deep harm. Many have commented on the dangers to mental health of an ongoing lockdown, and feeding that with negative influences will only make things worse. 

I suggested a few ways in which we could limit the negativity, and increase the positivity. Limit your news exposure. Turn off notifications from your favoured news app. Don’t engage with social media which only serves to drag you down. 

I did suggest some positive steps too. Aside from Christian disciplines of prayer and Bible study, try to listen to biblical worship music that will trun your heart to praise. Encourage other believers, and friends and family, and in so doing, be encouraged yourself. 

We have all heard the claim that we have more time now we are not going out all the time or commuting to work. This may be true, but what are we doing with that time?

Most of us are filling it with screens. And the one thing we are not doing – is nothing. 

Do nothing. That’s my advice. 

Hopefully you know me well enough by now, if you’ve read the blog for any length of time, to know that I mean something more by this. 

Chances are that, with the extra time you now have, you are filling it with something. Maybe you are wise enough to not be filling it with any old show from Netflix or diving deep into the YouTube rabbit hole… but what are you doing with it?

May I suggest something?

Firstly, an idea from the apostle Paul. 

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

2 Timothy 2:7 (ESV)

Think. Spend some time just thinking. When was the last time you did that? 

Your brain needs exercise as much as any other part of you. Use it! 

Don’t just let the first thought that comes to you drop into your mind. Think with a purpose. Think about God and His Word. That is what the Bible means when it says “meditation.” 

Meditate on the Word of God. Imagine ourself there, right in the scene, as the narrative is laid out before you. What would it have been like to be present as Jesus fed the five thousand? How about imagining being one who was warming himself by the fire as Peter denied Christ? 

Your mind is a wonderful thing. More often than not these days, we drown out our thoughts with one activity or another. I’m not advising you to be passive, for that is dangerous, but I am urging you to think actively. Discipline your mind and point it in the direction you want it to go. 

If you are not used to it, then you may need to constantly review what it is you are thinking about. Your mind will wander, and you will need to drag it back to the right path over and over again. 

Alongside this, I would recommend you turn off your electronics. Put your phone away, turn off the TV and leave the tablet out of sight. Sit in a comfy chair, inside or outside is fine, and just be still. 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

When were you last “still”? If you are like me, then it has been a while – a long while. 

I have four children living in my house, and so stillness is not something I’m all that familiar with! Yet it is incredibly valuable. 

Something I have learned is that God will not raise His voice. For me at least, God is rarely willing to shout over my circumstances and make Himself heard over my din. He wants me to sit quietly, and listen hard for His voice. And every single time I do, I hear Him clearly. 

Do you want to hear from God? Then may I suggest you cut out the background noise before you try to listen. 

If normal life is just plain busy, have you found lockdown life any different? Chances are you’ve exchanged one form of “busy” for another. A busy life often makes a good relationship with Jesus rather hard. 

Look at Martha and Mary’s example from the Bible. 

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

While Martha was “busy” getting everything done, Mary was just sitting at the feet of our Lord. Now Martha is sometimes unfairly criticised here, and actually we need hard workers to succeed. However, when we are in the presence of Christ, the work can be put to one side for a time. 

By all means, use any time you have gained due to COVID restrictions. Learn a language, or how to play an instrument. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never had time for. But don’t try to fill every waking hour. Set aside some time to be – to just be – and then just “be” with Jesus. 

You won’t regret one minute you spend with Him.