Romans 12:1-8 The purpose of meditation

Notes from sermon preached on 18th September 2011: Biblical meditation 2

Truth No. 1: Biblical meditation is designed to change us through the power of God’s word!

In our mid-week Bible Study we have begun a study on the book of Genesis, and this week we were looking at Genesis 1.  What spoke to me most was the creative power of the word of God.  Genesis 1 begins with God creating earth, which for a moment is formless and empty, but by the end of the chapter it’s a world with shape and brimming over with life of every sort.  This form and fullness is created through the creative power of the word of God.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light!”

Each day God gives form and fullness to His creation through His word.  Transformation and creativity takes place through God’s spoken word.

So we see that all this creativity – we call it prosperity – is not only created by the power of God’s word, but it is also continues to be dependent on the power God’s word spoken day by day.  There is always the danger of returning to a world which is formless and empty if we ignore the word of God.

The central message of the New Testament is that the Word became flesh, a human being, the Lord Jesus Christ [John 1:14].  The message we read in John’s gospel is that God is doing his work of recreation (redemption) through the Word who has become flesh, Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” [John 1:1-5].

You might be asking what this has to do with Biblical Meditation.  It is this, God want to transform us, even transform society, through the power of his Word, to bring light and life.  The Bible is the written Word of God, and as we meditate on it each day it will bring light and life and spiritual oxygen and fruitfulness.  It cannot but help transform us.  This is what St Paul says in our reading in Romans 12:2,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The teaching this week in Selwyn Hughes’ book is about the transforming power of God’s word that comes through Biblical Meditation.  This is truth no1: Biblical meditation is designed to change us through the power of God’s word.  Biblical meditation will make us more God-centred and less self-centred.  It is a key that God can use to make us more Christlike.

Truth No. 2: Biblical meditation changes our thoughts, our emotions and our will.

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve had their personalities thrown out of line as a result of their rebellion and sin, and we have all suffered.  As a result of sin our thought life is affected, our emotional life is affected and our will is affected.  What we believe affects the way we feel, and the way we feel affects the way we act.

  1. a.       Our thoughts

Let’s think first of all about our thought life. There is no sin that you committed that you didn’t think about first.  You may not have thought about the consequences, and you may have been deceived, but at some point you thought about it in your head.  This is why our thoughts need to be brought into line with God’s thoughts through Biblical Meditation.  This is how we renew our minds, our thinking.  For example, if you meditate on the 8th commandment, “You shall not steal,” we realise we shouldn’t be taking what doesn’t belong to us; then we realise it’s not just about taking about being generous and giving out of what does belong to us.  When we start thinking these things it will change our behaviour.  But it starts in the mind.

It may be we think that Biblical Meditation is intellectual suicide, just indoctrination. But it’s not intellectual suicide; it’s actually giving ourselves a framework for thinking properly about the world.  Selwyn Hughes quotes Pascal, the famous French Christian philosopher who said, “Nearly all the ills of life spring from this simple source that we are not able to sit still in a room.”   Meditating on God’s word will stimulate and bring our thinking to life.

Look at the lives of Christians who take the Bible seriously and who meditate on it.  Do they blow people up?  Are they unbalanced?  Or are they more generous; more loving; More committed to their families; more active in their communities?  Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”

  1. b.      Emotions

Biblical meditation affects our thinking, but our thinking affects our emotions.  God has emotions and we have emotions.  God wants to touch us in the area of our emotions. Sometimes we have a difficult relationship with our emotions.  We try and control our emotions because we are frightened of them; or our emotions control us and we are pushed and pulled around by every negative feeling. But when God touches our emotions through his word, they begin to come back into line and balance.

Selwyn Hughes tells a story of a lady in his church who said to him, “My emotions are dulled and deadened.  I can feel nothing – joy or sorrow, elation or despair.  I have been so hurt that it is impossible for me to respond with feeling to anyone – even to God.”  He encouraged her in biblical meditation, and he says that within three months she had changed beyond recognition.  She could laugh, cry, sing and display emotion in a healthy and positive way.  As we meditate on God’s word and allow the Holy Spirit to touch us at a deeper level our emotions are released and we are better able to express God’s love.  I believe there are people in this congregation who are in great need God touching you in the area of the emotions.

The stomach is made for food, and our inner natures are made for the word of God.  Jesus said,

“Man shall not live on bread along but on every word which comes from the mouth of God.” [Matt 4:4]

Life only works God’s way.  My mind and God’s thoughts were made for each other.  When we meditate and allow God’s thoughts into our minds, our emotions also hear the voice of the Master and we become ready to do His will.

  1. c.       Our will

This is the third area where need transformation.  Many Christians think the Christian life is a battle of the will.  Thou shalt not do this or that; though shalt do this or that.  We just have to grit our teeth and do everything we can to try and please God.  But trying to force the will is an exhausting experience, and we will inevitably end up discouraged, frustrated and probably wanting to give up.  Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7,

“I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do … I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil o do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”  [Romans 7:14…20]

We call this struggle a battle between the spirit and the flesh.  This battle isn’t a sign of how spiritual we are; it’s a sign of how sinful we are and very much in need of God’s grace.  This is where biblical meditation comes in.  Selwyn Hughes says this:

“Instead of trying to conquer a rebellious will by forcing it to obey God’s commands, flood your mind with God’s Word by systematic meditation.  The more you think God’s thought the more your emotions delight in Him and you will want to obey him more and more.”

When you want to do something, guess what, you usually end up doing it!

Truth No. 3: Biblical meditation is something we have to make time for.

At the end of this week’s devotions you will find a bit on the importance of making time for Biblical Meditation.

A certain Dr Alex Carrel says, “We have lost the art in this modern age of developing “islands of solitude.”  We are living in a highly individualistic society; we’re living in an age where loneliness is endemic. But paradoxically we have lost the art of developing islands of solitude, since we can’t sit still, and our lives are filled with too much busy-ness.  Developing islands of solitude doesn’t mean we become more individualistic, or more lonely; in fact the result is the opposite. It means that we learn to make time and space for God each day to allow Him to speak his Word into our lives that it might do it’s own work of powerful transformation.

When do we do this? At home, in the morning is the best and most obvious time to do this.  But we can do it at other times as well.  The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon said, “Whenever I go for a walk I take a verse of Scripture as I would a sweet on the end of my tongue and suck every precious drop of sweetness from it.”

Another good time to meditate on a Bible verse is at night, just before you go to sleep.  If you do this you will find out the truth of Proverbs 6:22,

“When you walk, they [i.e. God’s words] will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.”  [Proverbs 6:22]

The last thing you are thinking about at night is often the first thing you think about when you wake up.  When it’s God’s creative Word you are thinking about, all the better; it will work in your subconscious during the night, and sometimes you will wake up and it will speak to you in a new way.

This practice is very good for overcoming nightmares or disturbed sleep.  Don’t fight nightmares, just put in the light so the darkness must flee.

But the question is, do we really have the commitment.  Life is a matter of priorities; we set our priorities according to what we values.  If we really value the word of God, we will make time, whatever.

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