Tag Archive | Psalms

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.

Giving Thanks As We Wait

Waiting isn’t optional, but waiting well is! I hope you learned some keys on how to wait well from Tuesday’s post. We learned that to wait well is to wait prayerfully, patiently, joyfully and expectantly. It is to wait with trust, believing what God says in His Word about His nature and His ways. It is to wait with strength and courage. It is to wait with worship. But I purposely left out one truth about waiting well. To wait well is to wait with thankfulness.

Psalm 13 is a short passage of Scripture, only six verses long, so take the time to read it. As you do, notice the question David repeatedly asks.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

In these six brief verses, we see the words “how long” four times. Have you ever cried out to God with those same words during a time of waiting that seemed to drag on and on and on? I sure have. We don’t know the exact circumstances that David was facing when he wrote these words. But we do know he was sorrowful, even despairing of life. His enemies were prevailing and he was feeling shaken.

During extended times of waiting, we may feel forgotten or even forsaken. But instead of allowing our feelings to determine our attitude and actions, we can choose to remember what we know about God. We can choose to believe the truths He reveals in His Word. I believe that’s what David did, and it provides a clear pattern for us to follow.

Instead of fixing his eyes on his circumstances, instead of acting on his emotions, David turned his eyes on the Lord. He acknowledges his adversaries, but he also gives thanks to his God.

“And my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” PSALM‬ ‭13:4-6‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Are you currently in a prolonged time of waiting? If so, are you willing to stop using your feelings as a guide? Are you willing to turn your focus off of your circumstances and onto the God who is bigger than your circumstances? Are you willing to look for what you can thank God for in the midst of your situation that still shows no signs of resolution?

On this Thankful Thursday, let’s learn from the psalmist David and reflect on the nature of our God. Where do you see His goodness? His faithfulness? His lovingkindness? Look at your situation and see where there is evidence that God is at work, even during this time of waiting. Then, let’s offer up to Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving for who He is and what He is doing.

“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm‬ ‭116:17‬ ‭

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm‬ ‭50:23‬ ‭

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Transformed By God’s Spirit and His Word

“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

‭Renewing our minds is such an important Christian discipline! In both our constant exposure to the input of the world in which we live and our emotional response to the difficult circumstances that are a part of life, we need to take time daily to renew our minds in the truths of God’s Word.‬

‭This Monday morning, as I do many mornings, I began my quiet time in the book of Psalms. I found Psalm 27 on my Bible app and began reading a passage I’ve read many times before. But as I came to the final two verses, I heard God speaking to my heart. ‬

‭I read, ‬“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14)

God gently spoke to my heart, “Are you really expecting to see My goodness in this place where I’m asking you to walk?”

Immediately, I knew the honest answer was “No, Lord, I’m not.” And I knew it was time to renew my mind in the truth of the goodness of the Lord.

Life with its many and varied challenges has a way of wearing down our resolve to be doers of the Word and not just hearers (James 1:22), but the indwelling Holy Spirit is quick to teach us if we remain open to His voice. Our part is to open up God’s Word daily, with our spiritual ears ready to listen and obey. That’s what happened to me on Monday, as I did a search on my Bible app for verses about the goodness of the Lord and began renewing my mind in this important truth.

On this Thankful Thursday, I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit is able to take our willingness to open the Bible, in whatever form we prefer, and use it to renew our minds to see our circumstances from a biblical mindset. Whether He works by reminding us of some truth about the character of God, as He did for me this week, or He reminds us of some other principle taught in Scripture, the Bible and the Holy Spirit who lives within us as believers in Christ together are God’s agents of transformation in our lives.

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Hope in the Darkness: Dealing with Discouragement

Part of my scheduled Bible reading for today was Psalm 42, which begins with a superscription identifying it as a Maskil of the sons of Korah. What is a maskil?

Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes a maskil as a song enforcing some lesson of wisdom or piety, a song intended to give instruction. So as I read this psalm, the first question I asked myself was what is the intended instruction? I think the answer to that is found in the following verses.

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I believe the lesson God is seeking to teach us through this psalm is how to deal with circumstances that cause us to feel “cast down,” to experience discouragement or even despair. When we walk through problems that seem to stretch on and on, one of the biggest struggles we face is holding onto hope. In this psalm, the message is clear. God is our source of hope, so to experience hope we must shift our focus off our circumstances and on to the Lord.

Corrie ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”

When we walk through on-going trials, the key to victory is fixing our eyes on the One who reigns over everything that touches our lives. God alone can bring peace and rest in the midst of circumstances that bring tears to our eyes and sorrow to our hearts.

Or as Hebrews 12:1-2 says, to find renewed strength to continue the race God has set before us, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Our Savior was strengthened as He turned His focus beyond the Cross He was facing to the joy to come after, when His death and resurrection would provide the way for us to be forgiven and restored to relationship with the Father.

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