24 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF MEDITATION
What is meditation?
Meditation is like chewing the cud. Animals that chew the cud are called “ruminants” because they regurgitate and rechew their food to get the most nourishment out of it.
One meaning of “to ruminate”, therefore, means “to think deeply about…”, to do with our thoughts what ruminants do with their food.
Some religions and philosophies are big on meditation. It’s a good practice BUT… it’s value lies, not in its practice but in the content of the meditation. False religions focus on some mantra or facet of religious belief for spiritual power or enlightenment.
Since meditation in false religions is such a wide and varied practice, we will turn our attention to what the Bible commands us to do.
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8 NLT
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom … “ Colossians 3:16
God’s command to Joshua has in it the principles by which we, as children of God’s kingdom, should conduct our lives in an ungodly world. The Bible is our constitution for life in the kingdom but we will never live in the fullness of kingdom power if we don’t know the requirements and benefits of its constitution.
Firstly, unlike all other religious meditation, we have two infallible “ingredients” for discovering the truth.
- We have the Bible which is the infallible Word of God.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
2. We have the Holy Spirit who always works in tandem with the Word.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ ” John 16:13-15 NLT
Secondly, let’s look at what it means to think deeply about…
“To meditate is to reflect on, to ponder, to mull over, to talk about, to re-read, to re-hear, to say to others, and to hear from the lips of others.” (au.thegospelcoalition.org)
Our aim is to die to sin and live righteously every day as God’s children in an evil world. God has provided the means to change us into the image of His Son – the Bible. However, the power of God’s Word will be ineffective in us if we casually read and forget.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25 NLT
God has promised blessing on those who meditate on His Word regularly and faithfully, the blessing of a life that is unaffected by outward circumstances, that is stable and fruitful in all seasons and all weather.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” Psalms 1:1-3 NLT
One of the provisions of the New Covenant is a promise that God will write His Word on our hearts.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord . “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33 NLT
However, this cannot happen through casual reading. Continual thought, meditation and application will cut a pathway of thought in one’s mind that will gradually eradicate old patterns of thinking by replacing them with the Word.
Biblical meditation does not aim at emptying the mind. Indeed, it cannot. We can only replace patterns of destructive thinking by filling our minds with God’s Word.
FIVE WAYS TO WRITE THE WORD ON OUR HEARTS
There are 5 ways to apply the practice of meditation in such a way that it becomes the instrument of transformation. However, we must remember that we always do this in partnership with the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to use the Word to do what God has promised He will do.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 NLT
THE WORD MUST BE
- In your mind and heart
To write God’s word on our hears requires diligence and discipline.
There is great benefit in dwelling on a passage of Scripture for several days or even weeks. I call it “inching” my way through the Word.
Writing down thoughts, understanding and revelation helps to fix the Word in one’s mind and encourages acting on what the Word says.
Memorising Scripture, especially key verses or passages, gives the Holy Spirit fuel to fire the heart when the need arises.
A valuable way to increase our understanding of what the Word says is to compare Scripture with Scripture. I find that the Holy Spirit reminds me of verses and passages that are already in my heart that build on or awaken my understanding of some truth I am exploring.
Ask questions. God loves to respond to our sincere desire to know Him through the Word. He will answer your questions, not always immediately but eventually if you stay alert and expect an answer.
- In your eyes
We remember what we see. Use whatever visual aids you can that help you to remember the words of Scripture – pictures, flash cards, fridge magnets, etc.
- On your lips – to yourself
Hebrew words usually get their meaning from the context. The word “hagah”, translated “meditate” is often translated by a word that includes repetitive sound, e.g., to murmur or mutter. So, to meditate is to mutter God’s Word over and over until it is fixed in your mind.
By muttering the Word, you hear as well as see the words of Scripture which will help to write them on your heart.
- On your lips – to others
This may not always be easy depending on the responsiveness of the hearer. Speaking God’s Word over and over to your children is a valuable way of getting the Word into them. Use the Word to reinforce wisdom as you guide them through the challenges of life.
This was God’s instruction to Israel…
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NLT
We can do the same with the promises of the New Covenant.
- In your ears – from the lips of others
Again, this is an activity of committed believers with one another. How valuable to counsel and encourage one another with the words of Scripture rather than the words of human wisdom!
WHY DO WE NEED TO MEDITATE ON THE WORD?
Meditating on God’s Word is a powerful and effective way to change our thinking from the way of the world to the way of the Word. We must take the “l” out of world for the following reasons:
- The world loves LAWS. The world is governed by laws, rules and regulations which people regularly break. This is what law does to the unbeliever. It awakens the rebellion that is in the heart.
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway…. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Romans 7:18-19, 23 NLT
- The authorities that rule the world are not LEGITIMATE. The world, and the god of this world has usurped the authority to rule that belongs to God alone.
“We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 NLT
When we fill our minds with the Word, we come under its authority and live by its power rather than the illegitimate authority of ungodliness.
- The world demands our LOVE. We cannot love the world and God at the same time. God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world are opposed to each other.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” 1 John 2:15 NLT
Our minds process and filter what comes in from the outside. We choose what we will reject and what we will retain, and what we retain will form the belief system that governs our attitudes and behaviour.
Without God’s Word in our minds and hearts, we will be like a rudderless ship, at the mercy of every influence, good or bad, that blows us through life.
God has graciously given us gifted people who minister God’s Word to us to build us up in our faith and conduct…
“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:13-15 NLT
All Scripture quotations in this series
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.