Biblical Meditation: What It Is & How To Do It?

Author Sarah Geringer, in her book Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus, addresses the difference between our society’s current understanding of meditation and genuine Christian meditation.

“You may be skeptical about the word meditation because of its association with New Age and Eastern religions. I can understand if you feel hesitant, but I’d like to reassure you that the idea of meditation is not foreign to Christianity. It is simply the practice of thinking about Scripture and communing with God. I think you will find it to be a powerful tool for increasing peace in your life.

“(Christian meditation) involves the solid truth of God’s Word… It’s an invitation to deeper relationship with the One who perfectly loves us. When we make God’s character, laws, promises, and works our focus, we engage in Christian meditation.”

Last week I wrote about one of the world’s ways to use meditation, the process of Mindfulness Meditation. Today, I am looking at the biblical model of meditation.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines meditation as:

“Close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation.”

Some form of the word meditation is mentioned in the Bible 23 times, 19 of which are found in the Psalms. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, mentions the Word of God in almost every verse. That Psalm alone uses some form of the word meditate eight times, in verses 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97. 99, and 148.

Biblical meditation was first mentioned in Scripture in Joshua 1:8. In the middle of an exhortation for Joshua to be strong and courageous as he was commissioned to lead Israel into their Promised Land, God gave a command to meditate on the Book of the Law.

“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.” Joshua‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Biblical meditation is one of several ways to commune with God. It focuses our thoughts on a specific verse or short passage of Scripture or on one of the names or attributes of God that are given in Scripture. It is different than prayer, but can include prayer. It is an important part of a growing relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Meditation begins with prayerfully reading a passage of Scripture, asking God to speak to us. Often when we do this, one or more verses will stand out to us. Maybe within those verses, one or two words catch our attention. For me, this is usually a prompting to look up the words in a biblical resource, such as the Blue Letter Bible, to learn what the word(s) actually meant to the original audience. I usually do this with my current journal in front of me, which I use to record any new insights I’ve gained from the verse(s).

What is the difference between Bible reading and Bible meditation?

The website of Billy Graham Evangelistic Ministries, http://www.billygraham.org, clearly answers this question.

“We believe that it is essential to differentiate between reading and meditating on the Bible. Reading is primarily assimilation of facts without application. In other words, it is for gathering of information.

“When we meditate on the Word of God, we seek to make personal application of the Scriptures to our own lives and circumstances. This results in more than the intake of information; it transforms by leading to the formation of the individual into Christlikeness.

“It is at that very moment that the Holy Spirit is able to speak to us, for as the apostle Paul said, “All scripture is … profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We never know how or when the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to bring conviction and correction. As God promises in Isaiah 55:11, the Word “will not return to me empty.”

“It is also essential to remember that Satan knows the Scriptures well. He often uses Scripture, out of context, to tempt us. He is a master at distorting what the Word of God says (Genesis 3:1). However, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Luke, chapter 4), Jesus correctly used the Scriptures to defeat him. The Word of God is our sure defense against Satan’s attacks.”

An important part of gaining benefit from meditating on Scripture is repetition. When we meditate on a verse or short passage of Scripture that is personally applicable to our current lives and circumstances, it’s important to meditate and repeat. I offen do this for a week or more, until I sense that my response to the situation has begun to change.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds… “ One of the most effective tools to renew our minds and experience transformation is biblical meditation.

In a world that has taken the God-given discipline of meditation and distorted it to the point that some Christians are afraid to even use the term, God has given us a major key to seeing lasting change in problem areas of our lives. Whether you choose to use the term meditation (which the Bible uses) or a synonym such as ponder or muse, please don’t ignore this valuable Spiritual Discipline.

Biblical meditation is incomplete until we apply what we’ve learned though the Word of God to our personal lives and our circumstances. In a Bible study group I’m a part of, we call these our Faith Actions. How does God want us to apply the lesson(s) He has been teaching us through meditation on a verse or short portion of Scripture?

Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this. Remember, the purpose of biblical meditation is first a transformed way of thinking and finally a transformed way of living. Permanent change takes time, so don’t rush through the process.

The Lord Is My Shepherd

This week, we are looking at the character of this One to whom we are called to submit. And one way we know the Lord is as our Shepherd.

Psalm 23 begins with the Hebrew words “Yahweh rohi,” the Lord my Shepherd. Yahweh, in our English Bibles LORD (in all caps), is the unique and sacred name of the Everlasting and Eternal God – the almighty, omniscient and omnipotent Creator.

The New Testament focuses on God incarnate, God in human flesh, Who we know as Jesus Christ. He is identified in John 10:11 as the Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” So both Father (Yahweh) and Son (Jesus Christ) are the Shepherd of those who have surrendered to their rule.

Psalm 23 was written by David, who during his youth had been a shepherd over his father’s flock. He took seriously his responsibility as the protector of the sheep.

In 1 Samuel 17, we read of some of young David’s experiences as a shepherd. In answer to King Saul’s concern that David was only a youth, not able to go against the Philistine giant Goliath who was taunting the army of Israel, David recalls some of the dangers he faced and overcame as he was tending sheep for his father, saying this Philistine would be like one of the lions or bears he battled as a shepherd.

“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” (1 Samuel 17:33-34 ESV)  

Sheep are definitely not the smartest animals God created! They constantly need to be under the watchful eye of a shepherd as they graze. In the hilly terrain of Palestine, sheep faced many dangers. For example, if one sheep jumped off a cliff, and there was no shepherd there to protect them, the whole flock would likely follow. Therefore having an alert and vigilant shepherd to watch over them was essential.

Let’s look at Psalm 23 verse by verse. In these six short verses, we are promised:

* RELATIONSHIP AND PROVISION:The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:1a‬) (The word translated “want” ‬refers to not lacking anything we need.)

* REST AND RESTORATION:He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a)

* GUIDANCE AND PURPOSE: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:3b‬)‬

* GOD’S PRESENCE AND COMFORT:Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:4)‬

* BLESSING AND ABUNDANCE: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:5)

* GOD’S GOODNESS AND MERCY AND AN ETERNITY WITH HIM: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬)‭

Like sheep, we are helpless, defenseless, and even purposeless without God in our lives. We need a Shepherd who will protect, provide, and give purpose to our lives. And God wants to be that good Shepherd in our lives.

There’s just one problem. As sheep we are not always wanting what our Good Shepherd provides. W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, wrote, “It takes some of us a lifetime to learn that Christ, our Good Shepherd, knows exactly what He is doing with us. He understands us perfectly.

We want the care of the Good Shepherd while still reserving the right to do things our way. But that’s not the way it works. Surrender to the One who is our Good Shepherd is to key to being able to partake of all the benefits of being one of His sheep. On this Thankful Thursday, let’s make sure there are no areas of our lives we are refusing to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and then give thanks to God for all the blessings that are a part of the life of surrender.

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Awaiting the Messiah’s Return

During this Advent Season, I’m reading God In the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, a book of daily devotionals by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written in 1943 while he was in Tegel prison camp in Germany. I will usually be doing a weekly blog post, sharing some truths and quotes that were especially helpful to me. This is a second post on the materials covered in Week 1.

On Week 1, Day 4, Bonhoeffer shifts his focus from Jesus’ first coming to pay the penalty for our sin, to His still future second coming. He begins with what he calls “The Un-Christmas-Like Idea,”

“When the old Christendom spoke of the coming again of the Lord Jesus, it always thought first of all of a great day of judgment.”

There will be two judgments, one for believers and another for unbelievers. Revelation 20:11-15 describes what is called the Great White Throne Judgment. “Books” are mentioned in this passage, the book of life and other unnamed books where the dead whose names were not written in the book of life are judged “according to what they had done.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation‬ ‭20‬:‭11‬-‭15‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

Those whose names are written in the book of life will not be judged for their sins. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this clear. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8‬-‭9‬ ‭ESV‬‬) But this doesn’t mean our works as believers in Christ are not important. The next two Scriptures make it clear that when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ we will give an account for our works IN CHRIST, after we surrender our lives to the Lord. This judgment has to do with rewards versus loss. As Christians, we will all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where our works at believers will be judged.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬-‭13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

2 Corinthians 5:11 begins with these words: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. Most of the people who read my blog posts have committed their lives to Christ Jesus as the Savior and Lord. For you, take advantage of this Christmas season by sharing your personal testimony with some who still need to be persuaded of this life-changing decision.

For those reading these words who have not yet made this decision, there is no better time to do so that during this season when we focus on Jesus’ coming as a baby in a manger. For this wasn’t a normal baby. He was God in human flesh, and for thirty-three years He lived a sinless life. Then, Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross, paying the penalty for the sin of all who put their faith in Him. But that isn’t the end of the story. Three days later, He conquered death. As it says in Acts 2:24 (NIV), “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

If you haven’t made the decision to make Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord, I invite you to pray the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I believe You died on the Cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I recognize I need Your forgiveness for my sins. I want to turn away from living life my own way, but to do that I need Your help. Please come to live in my heart, through Your Holy Spirit. I surrender my life to You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for forgiving my sin and accepting me as Your child. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

The Christmas season after I graduated from college was when I personally made this life-changing decision. My life – and my Christmas celebrations – have never been the same since then. If you prayed the above prayer, I believe this will also be a part of your testimony. Jesus will no longer just be a baby in a manger to you. He will be Your Savior, Lord, and coming King.

✡️ Awaiting the Messiah ✝️

Hopefully Waiting for Jesus

During this Advent Season, I’m reading “God In the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas,” a book of daily devotionals by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written in 1943 while he was in Tegel prison camp in Germany. I will be sharing some of the most important points from this book, points that really stood out to me. This week, I’ll be dividing the material into two posts, since it would be difficult to share all of the important points in one post.

GOD IN THE MANGER: REFLECTIONS ON ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS, WEEK 1, PART 1

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor, theologian, and peace activist. He wrote without compromise about the Christian faith, as he stood against atrocities of the Nazi Regime. He was imprisoned shortly after Hitler’s cruel reign began in 1943, and was executed just weeks before the end of the war. God In the Manger was originally in German, and the version I’ve reading was translated by O. C. Dean Jr. and compiled and edited by Jana Riess.

Week 1 in this devotional focuses on the truth that Advent is A SEASON OF WAITING. The word “advent” comes from a Latin word, “adventus”, that means “arrival or appearance.” For Christians, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and is a period of preparing our hearts for the celebration of Christ Jesus’ first coming as an infant, God in human flesh, also known as the Incarnation. It is also a reminder that He has promised to come again, this time as Conquering King.

In a letter to his best friend Eberhard Bethge, as the holiday season was approaching in 1943, Bonhoeffer wrote:

“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent. One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other—things that are really of no consequence—the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.”

Since I have personally been in a season of waiting on God for several months for an answer to prayer, this week of devotions was encouraging to me. One quote from Day 2 especially stood out to me.

“Celebrating Advent means being able to wait… Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.”

Waiting on the Lord to answer our prayers is in essence “hopefully doing without.” This was one of the most helpful quotes I’ve even read about waiting on God. God seldom moves in our timing, so waiting with hope and expectation is the key to not giving up.

In Week One, Day Three, Bonhoeffer explains that not everyone can successfully wait on the Lord. It takes a special kind of people, those who understand that they are poor and incomplete in themselves, waiting on the Holy One, the only Complete One, “God in the Child in the manger.” He is our source of strength and power to live in a way that is pleasing to the Father.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭12‬-‭13‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

When Jesus came in Bethlehem, He came as the LAMB OF GOD who would take away the sins of all who placed their faith in Him. John 3:16, the best known Bible verse by most people, makes it clear that God gave His Son because of His love for those He created. All men and women, boys and girls, are offered this gift, but to receive it we must believe in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (‭‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

Jesus, a descendant of the tribe of Judah, will soon be coming a second time, as the LION OF JUDAH. Lions symbolize power, fierceness, and majesty. Lions have been called the king of the beasts. When Jesus returns, He will come as the “faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Revelation 1:5) Hebrews 9:28 says this time He will be coming for “those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Does that include you?

Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃

As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day, I was reminded this morning of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving festival, as they gathered with their Indian neighbors who had helped them learn how to have a bountiful harvest their first summer in The New Land. They gathered for a three-day celebration to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. During this first year, nearly half of those who had arrived at Plymouth Rock had died of illness and starvation, yet they gathered to thank God for His faithfulness and goodness to them during this first year in The New Land.

Our family is also nearing the end of our first year in our new home in rural East Texas. Our first harvest wasn’t as bountiful as the Pilgrims experienced – we had no Indians (or local farmers) to help us – and we knew very little about gardening. Then in July, our whole family caught the dreaded COVID-19. Since all three of us have chronic illnesses, each of us could have ended up in the hospital. But by God’s grace we all made it through the illness with no complications. Thank You, Lord!

For me, this was the beginning of five months of dealing with one health problem after another. I come to this Thanksgiving feeling weary and yet thankful for God’s faithfulness and goodness to us during this first year in our new home. He has given us a home that is fully paid for and abundantly meets our needs. Thank You, Lord Jesus.

And I especially thank the Lord that my wrist tendonitis is now healed. It began before COVID, in late June, and on Monday my hand orthopedic doctor said it is now healed. The treatment with a wrist brace with thumb splint was successful, so I don’t need the injection my PCP thought might be needed or any surgery. No more wearing the brace needed either. That’s definitely worth a big THANK YOU to the Lord Jesus Christ for healing me.

I hope all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. Be sure to remember God’s faithfulness and goodness to you and your family during this year, that will soon be coming to an end.

Happy Thanksgiving 2022!
Don Moen – With a Thankful Heart

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4 was my scheduled New Testament reading for today, a chapter that focuses on entering God’s rest. Rest is a treasured truth for me right now, as I deal with a painful mouth ulcer that is not healing as I’ve hoped it will. I need to experience God’s rest, so that I don’t end up trying to handle this problem in my own strength.

Remember, biblical chapter numbers were not in the original text. So when a chapter begins with the word “Therefore” you need to look back to the previous chapter to see what it was “there-for.”

Context is another important key to understanding the meaning of a passage. The following verses will make more sense if before reading them you read Hebrews 3:7-19 and Hebrews 4.

These verses help us understand God’s Rest:

“And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:1-2; 9-11 ESV

“Therefore” in Hebrews 4:1 refers back to the text on entering rest in Hebrews 3:7-19. I thought verses 18-19 summed up the message of the entire section. To enter God’s rest, faith is the key. But unbelief and disobedience are closely connected. Disobedience is the Greek word apeitheia, which literally means “the condition of being unpersuadable.”

To be unpersuadable is to obstinately reject the will of God. This is caused by unbelief, and the effect of unbelief is disobedience. Therefore, because of this cause and effect relationship, stubbornly being unpersuadable is the root of both of these decisions. I hope you will read the following affirmation aloud, as an expression of your submission to the will of God for your life.

My Affirmation:

When God speaks, I will not stubbornly refuse to be persuaded of His message. I will respond with both faith and obedience. When I do this, God has promised I will by faith enter His Sabbath rest, resting from my own works and resting in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way, I will be led and empowered to accomplish God’s will for my life.

A Restful Ride on the Lake of Galilee

Resting In God’s Presence

WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION? BUT I THOUGHT WE WERE SAVED BY FAITH!

My New Testament Bible reading this morning was Philippians 2. This is a chapter I’ve studied many times, but as I was reading it this morning, verses 12-13 stood out to me. What exactly does it mean to “work out your own salvation?” So I did some studying to make sure I understood the true meaning of these verses.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

First, I looked up the Greek word for “work out” using the Blue Letter Bible, and I learned it means “to do that from which something results.” Further research gave me this meaning: “to carry out to its full perfection.” This obviously does not refer to earning our salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that we were saved by grace through faith, no works on our part are involved.

So what exactly does it mean work out your own salvation? To answer this question, we need to look at the tenses of salvation. Salvation has three tenses: past, present, and future.

PAST SALVATION is also known as JUSTIFICATION. If you are a Christians, this means that all of your sins have been forgiven by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This past tense of salvation applies to everyone who has come to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and is “by grace through faith“. No matter how many good works we do, we cannot earn this stage of salvation. It is a free gift of grace. We have been delivered from both slavery to sin and its PENALTY.

PRESENT SALVATION is the tense of salvation described in Philippians 2:12-13. Basically, it is DELIVERANCE from the POWER of sin, in which we have a part. This stage is also known as SANCTIFICATION. I’ll go into more detail about this in a minute.

FUTURE SALVATION is also known as GLORIFICATION. It happens when we see Jesus face-to-face, and we receive our new bodies that will be FREE FROM ALL OF SIN’S CORRUPTION. In Romans 8:23 Paul calls this the “redemption of the body.”

Philippians 2:12-13 is about the stage of salvation in which you are currently living, if you are a genuine Christian. And these verses give us an essential key to how we are changed into the image of Christ. PRESENT SALVATION or SANCTIFICATION includes more than a mere moral change of character, brought about by learning the truth of God’s Word. The words “work out” are important. We can only “work out” what Christ has already put within. We have a part in this second stage of salvation, but Scripture says it is primarily a work of the Holy Spirit.

And such were some of you (referring to the unrighteous, see verses 10-11). But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV

SANCTIFICATION is the stage of salvation in which we have HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY, combined with DIVINE RESOURCES. The Holy Spirit Who lives within us works in our will, to bring each of us to a place of surrender to the will of God. Then He gives us the capability to do what He has called us to do; i.e., to “work out” what He has “worked in.”

There was two main areas included in this stage of salvation: (1) Being conformed to the image of Christ (see Romans 8:29), and (2) Completing the good work that God planned for us even before we were born (see Ephesians 2:10).

I want to close with a unique illustration on which makes it clear that this process of sanctification is Spirit-empowered and also requires our obedience to the teaching and leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is from one of my favorite resources for quotes or in-depth study of Scripture verses or passages, https://www.preceptaustin.org/observation

There are some Christians whose lives are like a parked (or stalled) car – if God wants them to move down the road of life, He will have to push them Himself.

Others live the Christian life by keeping their car washed and polished—looking good on the outside—but they fail to give proper attention to the engine that supplies the power.

Still others live the Christian life by holding the steering wheel and patiently waiting for instructions on where and when to go. Their car has been gassed up by the presence of the Holy Spirit (Php 2:13) Who freely gives His power and counsel for the journey ahead: a lifetime of adventure in the Spirit!

Are you like that parked car? Are you stalled on the highway to holiness? Are you waiting for a push (a “Let go and let God” mindset)? Even worse, are you trying to push your car down the road of life in your own natural energy?

“Or is your life one that looks good on the outside but lacks the Spirit’s power on the inside? Your most successful life journey will be to begin to sit prayerfully in the presence of His Word and to daily learn to use His Spirit’s energizing supernatural power and counsel to work out your salvation.

“The only thing the Lord will not provide is the decision to sit behind the wheel, turn on the ignition and drive. This is a choice of the will that each one of us must make, but God even gives us that desire. But we still have the choice to act on His desire or to act on our won desire. The choice is yours.”

Noah Webster and A Timely Quote

I was doing a study of the Greek word for “corruption” this morning, used in Galatians 6:8, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap CORRUPTION, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” The meaning in the verse was clear. We are to avoid sowing to our flesh. When we don’t do this, we shouldn’t be surprised when we reap unpleasant consequences.

After looking up the meaning in the Greek, I turned to one of my favorite apps, “Bible Dictionary and Glossary” which includes a free version of Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, as well as other Bible Dictionaries.

Noah Webster was born in West Harford, Connecticut, in 1773. In addition to writing this dictionary, he was an educator and wrote many of the textbooks used in the early schools of America. He became a Christian in 1808, and his 1828 American Dictionary, the predecessor to today’s Merriam Webster Dictionary, contained the greatest number of Biblical references given in any reference volume. He has been called the, “Father of American Scholarship and Education.”

The definitions of corruption in Noah Webster’s dictionary didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but as I was reading it the quote on the graphic stood out to me. This dictionary, first published April 14, 1828, suddenly sounded very applicable today.

“Corruption in elections is the great enemy of freedom.”

We have an important election coming up November 8, a Mid-term election (one between Presidential elections), in which many people don’t bother to vote. I want to encourage all of you who read my blog not only to vote but also to do two things during the upcoming month of October.

First, pray that this year’s mid-term election will be free of corruption.

Second, take time to look up the information on the candidates, seeing which one (regardless of party) stands for righteousness and truth, for what we believe as Christians.

And then on November 8th (or during early election dates in your state), you will be an informed voter when you go to the polls to cast your vote in this important election.

YOUR VOTE IN THE MID-TERM ELECTION IS IMPORTANT!

The LORD Yahweh is Our Good Shepherd

My last blog post was in June, so I decided it was time to write a new post. Typing is a challenge right now, using mostly one hand because my right hand is in a wrist brace with thumb splint, but here this goes. This is a short post I wrote this morning on one of the most familiar passages in the Old Testament.

The LORD Yahweh is Our Good Shepherd

This familiar psalm teaches us so much about our Good Shepherd. I used Psalm 23 in the New English Version this morning to gain a fuller understanding of what it means when we use the name of Yahweh Rohi, meaning the Lord my shepherd. (Numbers correspond to verse numbers)

  1. As my Shepherd, He provides for ALL my needs
  2. He meets my PHYSICAL needs.
  3. He meets my SPIRITUAL needs.
  4. He is WITH ME in the darkest valley.
  5. He has a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with me, even in plain sight of my enemies. My cup is completely full.
  6. His “hesed” – His GOODNESS and FAITHFULNESS – will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live with Him forever.

“Hesed” describes the covenant relationship Yahweh has with His children. This Hebrew word has no one English word that even comes close to it’s full meaning. Other Bible versions translate it LOVINGKINDNESS, UNFAILING LOVE, and STEADFAST LOVE. It also conveys the meaning of DEVOTION and LOYALTY.

Take some time today to thank Yahweh Rohi for all He is and does for us. Another good Scripture to study is John 10: 1-18, which gives us an extended picture of Yahweh Rohi through the life of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Reclaiming Your Life: The Place of Biblical Self-Care in Chronic Illness Management

side of the bed. Gradually increasing my walking is another goal. Yes, there are days I don’t feel up to exercise, but on days that this is an achievable goal I start my day with some light exercise. Another area where we can become more active is by doing my household tasks.2side of the bed. Gradually increasing my walking is another goal. Yes, there are days I don’t feel up to exercise, but on days that this is an achievable goal I start my day with some light exercise. Another area where we can become more active is by doing my household tasks.

I’m washing the breakfast and lunch dishes, a job I can do in less than ten minutes, and one other small job that needs to be done most days. When you live with the limitations of chronic illness, pacing yourself is very important, but for me a small job that takes around ten minutes is doable, and it takes a little of the pressure off of our daughter, who deals with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

SELF-CARE FOR THE SOUL
Our souls are made up of our mind, will, and emotions. Romans 12:2 deals with our minds and thoughts.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬

Do your thoughts line up with the truth of God’s Word? Or is your thinking “conformed to this world”? Renewing our MIND to see our lives through the lens of God’s Word is an area of self-care many of us need to work on. Lasting changes, even those that mainly affect the body, must start in the mind. That’s because our actions are a direct result of what our thoughts are focused on.

The apostle Paul spoke about our WILL in Philippians 2:13, saying we are to work out the salvation God has worked in us through His Spirit, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” While God won’t violate our self-will and force us to do His will, He will work in our will to help us embrace His will and then to empower us to do it.

The third area of our soul is the EMOTIONS. A passage that has helped me many times when my emotions are out of control is found in Philippians 4.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬

SELF-CARE FOR THE SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 4:34 encourages us to be holy – set apart for God’s use – in both our spirit and our body. Just as our bodies need physical nourishment, our spirits need spiritual nourishment.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬

Do you have a daily time in God’s Word? Are you taking time to listen to see if God has some truth that you need to make it through the obstacles before you today? Reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scriptures are spiritual disciplines that are essential to spiritual growth.

Prayer is equally important. Prayer is an acknowledge of our need for and dependence upon a God who is bigger than anything we may be facing.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV ‬‬

This is no where near a complete list of all the areas where self-care would help us better deal with the daily challenges of life with chronic illness. But it gives a starting place for choosing some self-care actions that will enable you to better manage the daily challenges of your life. I encourage you to share in the comments an area of self-care that has helped you cope better with the limitations and struggles of living with chronic illness.

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Is Mindfulness Meditation Something Christians Should Try for Pain Relief ?

One of the most difficult problems of living with one or more chronic illnesses is chronic pain. I personally have lived with chronic pain since 1975, and I’ve used a variety of treatments including over-the-counter and prescription pain medications, supplements, physical therapy, braces, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS unit), ElectroCorticosteroid and Hyaluronic acid injections, and several orthopedic surgeries in hope of relieving the pain – with minimal effect in most cases. One thing I have shied away from is mindfulness meditation for chronic pain.

Focus on the Family says of mindfulness meditation:

“Mindfulness (some use the word grounding) is characterized by meditation and relaxation techniques. The idea is to become more self-aware. You pay attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations in that moment — without purposefully deciding whether they’re good or bad, and without becoming overwhelmed or overly reactive. In short, you tune in to what’s real right now.”

Many reputable universities (such as Harvard) and medical facilities (such as Mayo Clinic) now recommend mindfulness meditation for chronic pain. What is mindfulness meditation, and is it something I should try as a Christian for pain relief?

Mindfulness meditation can be individual mindfulness meditation, sitting alone in a quiet comfortable space, usually with your eyes closed and not focused on anything specific to begin with. It often includes concentrating on various areas of your body, one at a time.

Or it may be guided mindfulness meditation, which involves listening to someone either on a recording or in person, who will prompt you to relax into a meditative state and then guide you through the meditation.

Sometimes guided meditation uses imagery, asking you to picture specific things in your mind. Guided meditation may include Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), when you focus on relaxing each part of the body, one at a time, to take the tension away from each muscle.

All of these are recommended by some physicians and counselors, so it’s important to decide ahead of time what you will do if mindfulness meditation is recommended as a part of your pain relief.

Opinions about both individual and guided mindfulness vary within the Christian community. Focus on the Family mentioned the following cautions to those considering any secular kind of meditation therapy.

  • Secular mindfulness is based on an unhealthy degree of self-focus.
  • It supports emptying the mind, which can expose people to demonic influences.
  • It encourages escape from reality.
  • It sometimes promotes a one-with-the-cosmos worldview.
  • The concept of “mindfulness” is rooted in Zen Buddhist meditation.

All of these concerns are valid. Secular mindfulness encourages you pay attention only to yourself. In contrast, Scripture teaches us to have the mind of Christ and to evaluate everything in light of our vertical relationship with God and Jesus.

Mindfulness meditation can be compatible with a biblical worldview if it is rooted in Scripture and has a vertical focus on connecting with the God who created us and loves us with an unfailing love. Some faith-based counselors use this form of mindfulness meditation as a therapy tool. If you are considering mindfulness meditation for pain relief, make sure you work with a genuine Christian therapist who will guide you to the truths of Scripture. For me, personally, the decision has been made. I don’t want to use any kind of mindfulness medication, because even when it is wrapped in biblical principles it’s still rooted in Zen Buddhist meditation.

Next week, we will be looking at Biblical Meditation, the kind of meditation the Lord clearly calls us to participate in.