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4. Extracting the Juice:

 

Bible Meditation

Joshua 1:8 'Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.'

Meditating the Christian way

These days meditation is the 'in' thing. Buddhists do it; Hindus do it; devotees of yoga and Transcendental Meditation do it. It's an exploration of the 'inner self'. Generally, it involves the repetitive chanting of a mantra and letting the mind go blank. But this is not Christian, and it's something you should never do. To let your mind go blank is to invite the enemy to use it as a litter bin.

Christian meditation is altogether different. It doesn't home in on yourself but on the Lord. Far from letting the mind go blank, it focuses the mind on Scripture, the Word of God.Bible and notebook

There are various ways to read the Bible, of course. For example, you can read a whole book like Isaiah from start to finish and try to get the overall message of it. Or you can take a topic like 'prayer' and gather together from various parts of the Bible some passages that deal with it.

In meditation, however, you zoom in on a particular phrase, verse or short passage of Scripture and concentrate on extracting as much meaning and blessing from it as you can.

Ruminating

It's like a cow chewing the cud or ruminating—recirculating the same material over and over again to extract all the nourishment. According to the dictionary, 'ruminate' can be an activity of people as well as of cows. Then it means 'to revolve, to turn over and over in the mind, to meditate deeply upon, to Cow chewing the cud - ruminatingconsider with a view to subsequent action.'

When meditating you inevitably end up in prayer as the truth of God's Word grips your heart. This is a powerful way of feeding your mind with wholesome material and building up your spirit in God's presence.

Three steps in meditation

Bible meditation involves three stages:

1. Grasping the meaning

First, you need to understand the passage you're meditating on. This begins with a mental grasp of its basic meaning. But it's more than that; it's a spiritual understanding, something that comes as the Holy Spirit opens up its meaning to your spirit.

Take the following verse as an example:

1 John 3:1 'How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!'

One person, on reading this, says, 'According to this verse I have received the Father's love and I am a child of God'. But another, who has begun to meditate on it, whispers, perhaps with tears, 'Oh, thank you, Father! I'm just so blessed that you loved a useless person like me. And to think that you actually made me your child and brought me into your family…Thank you, thank you, Lord!'

Psalm 119:125 'I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.'

2. Getting the benefit

The truth of God's Word is spiritual food. It feeds your spirit just as natural food feeds your body.

The natural food you eat actually becomes part of you. Your body assimilates it and uses it to build blood cells, tissue and bone. Some people have a deficient system; they take in food and drink but, becauseFood their system doesn't assimilate it, they don't grow and develop normally. In the same way, your spiritual digestive system needs to assimilate the truth of God's Word so that you can get the benefit from it and grow:

Psalm 63:5 'My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.'

Colossians 3:16 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.'

Properly digested, the fruit of your meditation will nourish your faith. You'll know your spirit is getting the benefit by the fact that you are steadily growing in your love for the Lord and your understanding of his ways.

3. Living it out

God's Word isn't just to be read, understood and assimilated; it's to be obeyed. You are to meditate on it with a view to obeying it:

Joshua 1:8 'Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.'

King David, for example, kept quiet about something he should have confessed to God, but as he meditated the fire of conviction began to burn:

Psalm 39:3 'My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned.'

Later, he sorted it all out with the Lord, as the psalm goes on to say. You, too, will sometimes find the fires of conviction burning as you meditate. Be sure to turn the conviction into action, and be blessed.

Talking to yourself

Some say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, but it isn't necessarily so! King David did it Man talking to himselfregularly. In Psalm 42:5, for instance, where he talks to his 'soul', he's really talking to himself.

Meditation, too, can involve talking to yourself. Notice the verse at the start of this lesson, where God says to Joshua, 'Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.' In fact, the two main Hebrew words for 'meditate' can also mean 'mutter or talk to yourself'. It's helpful to talk over to yourself the insights from Scripture that the Lord gives you as you spend time in his presence.

Meditating and speaking go naturally together:

Psalm 19:14 'May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.'

This is part of the digestive process. As you assimilate God's truth you'll find it often spilling over into spoken words of praise, prayer or confession.

A practical exercise

Below is the text of Psalm 1.

We'll spend about 15 minutes individually meditating on this lovely psalm, then we'll pool the insights God has given us. Use the space at the side to jot down your thoughts.

Learn
by heart

Joshua 1:8  'Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.'

Heart

GiG4: Bible Meditation
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Psalm 1

1  Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
 

2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
 

3  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
 

4  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
 

5  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 

6  For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

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