Thursday, May 2, 2013

MEDITATE, Prayer & Fasting, Day 5

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)

In the last year I have become infatuated with the idea that I can be, and should be as a spiritual tree. I have an entire series of "tree scriptures" that I've found, and claim their attributes in prayer.

In looking at Psalms 1:3, I'm all about wanting to be like the tree described here; planted along a riverbank, bearing fruit, leaves that are green and do not wither, and prospering! Who wouldn't want this as a description of their life?!

But as with all things of any value, purposeful action is what brings quality and value. So we must ask ourselves, "What brought about these results?"

The full description is in verses 1 and 2. But I want to focus on "meditation."

We tend to be really good at loving the Bible and at following its regulations to the detail, but how often do we MEDITATE on it?

1. (intr; foll by on or upon) to think about something deeply
2. (intr) to reflect deeply on spiritual matters, esp as a religious act
3. (tr) to plan, consider, or think of doing (something)

MEDITATION, and indeed all things of the spirit, contend with the same competition, our busy lifestyle. We have some anti-spiritual habits due to our society. We're a very electronic, fast-paced society. And I'm going to be the last person who is against our current technologies. I am writing this devotional on my iPad. Every scripture I've researched and used has not been from a thousand pound concordance like my grandfather would have used, nor from a Bible with paper pages; it's been 100%, entirely of digital means. So, because we actually have to WORK to detach from the tangible, instantaneous, physical realm... Relax and clear our hurried thinking from our lists, our troubles, our heartaches... In efforts to help people open up their spirit to God, people have come up with "meditation techniques." But they're not necessary. They are simply devised methods and means to help us unplug and chill enough for our minds to think on HIS thoughts.

Meditation is NOT an invention of the Buddhists, Yogis, or the New Age thinkers. The earliest meditation we have on record is in scripture, and it's with Isaac, Abraham's son.

One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming. (Genesis 24:63 NLT)

We'll talk about HOW to meditate later. Let's first look at examples of WHAT the scripture shows we should meditate on.

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I [MEDITATE] about your mighty works. (Psalms 77:11, 12 NLT)

We should MEDITATE on His works of the past. From His wonderful, miraculous deeds found in ancient scripture, to the drug addict delivered, or the financial blessing of this past week, allow your thoughts to replay those events. Involve your imagination in the color of the sky when God provided the ram in the bush for Abraham, or the look of astonishment on their faces when God closed that Red Sea over the Egyptian army! PONDER the glories of these events. REMEMBER your own events. RECALL his mighty acts!

I will study your commandments and reflect [MEDITATE] on your ways. (Psalms 119:15 NLT)

After study, either on our own, or after a service where a minister has taught, or after a Bible study where friends have been studying the Word together; MEDITATE on God's ways. Think about HIS preferences. We don't need to understand WHY he prefers things a certain way, but we need to comprehend that he does, indeed, prefer some things differently than we thought was necessary. We should REFLECT on what we've learned.

May all my thoughts [MEDITATIONS] be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalms 104:34 NLT)

2 Corinthians 10:5 is another scripture that talks about something we do with our mind; how we use our imaginations. The Bible says to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Our imagination starts MEDITATING on how things  could go awry, how things could so easily fall apart...

Before we know it, we've snowballed into scenarios that are contrary to the KNOWLEDGE of God!

So we must purposefully make our thoughts, our MEDITATIONS, pleasing to him. If our imagination takes us anywhere, let it take us to the most amazing, victorious plan that God is so famous for! He's the only REAL superhero in existence, and he's pretty amazing!!

Ok... So I said we'd get to HOW to meditate, so here we go...

I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude (Psalms 143:5, 6 NLT)

Meditation is akin to Outback Steakhouse's motto; "No rules. Just right."

There are various people, various groups who have come up with tricks that have helped them become better at MEDITATING, but just because they have an audience does not mean their routine is the ONLY way.

In Psalms, we see David connecting MEDITATION to "remembering, pondering, & lifting his hands."
Remembering; thinking of his past works.
Pondering; present instruction or learning of God.

Then we see David's body physically involved in or around his MEDITATION when we read that he lifted his hands. When we read of Isaac's MEDITATION, we saw that he was walking.

The key to proper MEDITATION is no different than what Christians have been seeking to do since our salvation; that is to detach from the world around us, and deliberately put our thinking in line with God's.

That may include walking, raised hands, standing, kneeling, or sitting. Some may rock back and forth while they MEDITATE on the things we've described earlier, others may lay prostrate on the floor. Your MEDITATION may even involve some "outside helps" like a blindfold if you're easily distracted, or music, or headphones with nature sounds if you need to drown out other sounds that are distracting.

I MEDITATE every day, but I could just as easily say, "I pray every day." And, actually, that is exactly what I usually say simply because the church culture is accustomed to MEDITATION being associated with New Age, or a Buddhist practice. But I'm an Apostolic, Penteocstal through and through. And because I know how helpful it's been to me to purposefully add deep, silent meditation to my devotion, I want to describe to you what my MEDITATION is like.  

I usually start out sitting on the floor, thinking about the goodness of God... Perhaps a question will come to me, or a concern... And so I'll bring those thoughts around to faith and believing that God is working on my behalf. I'll usually end up turned around in a fetal position crying before the Lord. Then my meditation and prayer (because I ALWAYS end up talking to God about whoever and whatever I'm thinking about) will turn into a standing (and sometimes dancing) praise and thanksgiving over what I KNOW he's already doing and going to do. Then I'll blow my nose. Sit back upright. Read another passage of scripture. And the whole process is started all over again!

MEDITATION: No rules. Just right.
And now Nike is entering my thought: JUST DO IT!

P.S. God MEDITATES too! Here's what he MEDITATES about:

How precious are your thoughts [MEDITATIONS] about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! (Psalms 139:17 NLT)

Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing!

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