English Evening Service on August 6, 2017
Messenger by Don Frank Title : "When Was the Last Time You Meditated? "
Introduction - The title of my message tonight is, "When Was the Last Time You Meditated?" I don't know about you, but over the years when someone would mention the word "meditation" to me, I would just automatically lock up and I would think New Age - like Transcendental Meditation (TM) or here in Japan, Buddhist Zazen Meditation! And these are types of meditation that many people in our world enjoy practicing. The real basic idea of these types of meditation is to empty your mind and yourself of everything.
So when we read the Bible and it says to meditate, is that the goal we need to shoot for, emptying ourselves of everything? No. Biblical meditation is a completely different ballgame all together! It's not emptying ourselves, but letting God fill us with His Word and with Himself!
So tonight, I'd like to briefly share with you how to meditate on God's Word. Here at ODC, we have a weekly Prayer and Bible Study time together. It's a great small group time and I'd highly recommend it if you're free on Tuesday mornings. But it took me the longest time in my life to realize that Bible reading and prayer are not two separate activities. They are two parts of a conversation! So, let's take a look at how we can have some really quality conversations with our Heavenly Father.
1. Receive an Open Mind from God's Spirit - John 16:13-14
The Holy Spirit is the One Who inspired all the writing of the whole Bible - and He wants to inspire you and me every time we read it! Jesus said, "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." (NLT)
Ask the Spirit to guide you through His Word. Now this isn't some long, drown-out prayer. You're just asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind before you open God's Word. You might want to pray something like this, "Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of this new day and for life to live it. Open my heart and my mind to receive Your Word today. Fill me with the living waters of Your Spirit and refresh my mind. I look forward so much to hearing what you have to say. In Jesus' name, Amen."
2. Read God's Word Repeatedly - Joshua 1:8
"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." (NLT)
Let God begin that daily conversation by speaking to you from His Word. He's got so much wants to share with us. So, the question you ask is, "Where should I begin this conversation?" I can recommend a couple of different ways that might be helpful. One would be to use a devotional guide like Our Daily Bread or The Upper Room. Both have a nice Scripture passage for each day that you can enjoy reading through.
A second way that is quite good is choose a small book of the Bible to start with, like maybe one of the New Testament letters. Or you can begin with the beginning of the New Testament, starting with the book of Matthew. Whichever you choose, begin by reading the passage or the chapter through once to get the context, to get an aerial overview of the whole thing. Then...
3. Reflect on the Passage Prayerfully - Psalm 1:2
"But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night." (NLT)
You read again, but this time slowly and carefully, thinking about one sentence, one phrase, one word at a time. Delight in reading God's Thoughts! Don't read for distance. Read for depth. We're not talking today about reading the whole Bible in a year. Maybe you've done that before - and if you have, well then... congratulations! That's awesome to read 5 or 6 chapters from the Word of God everyday and get the Bible finished in a year. Maybe God will call you to do that sometime in the future. But today, we're not taking about going at jackrabbit speed, but the speed of a turtle! Like the proverb says, "Slow and steady wins the race."
And this time, read it and be ready to take notes. Type your notes out on your iPhone or write them down in your paper Bible or in a notebook. Some people like to keep a journal as they go through the Scriptures. Write down the date that you studied that Bible passage. God wants to speak to you from that Bible text - again and again!
4. Recite God's Truth to Back to Him - John 15:7
"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you can ask for anything you want, and you'll receive it." (International Standard Version)
The more you do this, it then becomes memorization! And my advice to you this evening would be, "Don't just do it once, do it multiple times throughout the day." I have my iPhone with me always and for me it's a tool I use to be in God's Word. If a verse really hits me, I'll keep that verse on my iPhone screen so that I can look at it again and again. I stop at a red light while I'm driving and I open my iPhone and read that verse back to God again for just 20 or 30 seconds until the light changes.
The great British preacher of the last generation, C.H. Spurgeon called it, "Taking God's promises from the Bible and cashing them in at the Bank of Heaven." Claim the promises of Scripture and take them back to God Who made the promise to you. Use it! That's what God wants us to do with His Word!
5. Relax in God's Love and Listen - Psalm 46:10
Then finally, just clear your mind and let God's Spirit speak to the depths of your heart. "Be still and know that I am God..." (NLT)
As you bring your quiet time or meditation time or Bible study time to an end, let the Spirit of God apply those treasures you discovered to your heart and mind. Relax in His Presence. Enjoy your happy thoughts and feelings of the Lord. And then thank Him for meeting you in His Word. Appreciate His Lovingkindness, His Grace and His Mercy.
As we finish up our time together this evening - I want to ask you to do 3 things as a commitment to God.
1. Use whatever time you have, but take your time while using it.
2. Where do you start? Devotional guide, a short New Testament book, a Bible passage from church or one that a friend recommends, etc.
3. Start this today. Within 24 hours.
Closing Prayer - Let's close our time together with a word of prayer. I want to practice together the idea of customizing a Bible passage and praying it back to God. Let's use Joshua 1:8.
"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."
Now let's put it in the form of a prayer and let's pray this all together to our Lord.
Lord, I want to read Your Word often and regularly. Help me to think deeply about it all the way through my day. Then Holy Spirit, give me the power and guidance to do what you teach me. You have promised me that then I will be successful in everything that I do. I take that promise to the Bank of Heaven right now and cash it in. In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen.