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Godward Meditation

Godward Meditation - Renewing our minds Key Text: Psalms 119:9-16 I want to read this passage before we get into the topic; listen: Psalm 119:9-16 New King James Version (NKJV) ב Beth

9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. So I have been focusing on the Christian Disciplines when I have been given a chance to preach in the morning. My goal in this series is to centre the disciplines on grace; in other words to take the focus off us and onto God. Today I want to address the idea of meditation, and look at Godward meditation. Most of us have no idea, desire about this crucial Christian discipline. 1.What is it to Meditate? Well there are different interpretations of this depending on where you go. But essentially meditation is the inner thought dialogue. Basically; talking to yourself about something. Now it must be said this is very different to transcendental Meditation; which has its roots in Hinduism and is the act of empting yourself. Essentially this is filling your mind with a mantra; which is a repetitive phrase in order to discover god or nirvana, or inner peace. Now this is a talking to yourself; but it is done in a way to shut down your inner dialogue. This is very different to what the Bible calls us to. In terms of the meditative act it is simply to think about something; to create an inner dialogue about something, and in Biblical terms this is a dialogue about God. It must be said that this is not the play thing of the Spiritually elite; we all meditate on something; it is a thinking it out or filling your mind with something; sometime you are meditating on worry, on money problems etc. Today I hope to get you to as the psalmist to meditate on God, to change in inner dialogue so that it brings life and not death. 2.Making Meditation Godward How do we make our meditation Godward; God focused; and beneficial. Well there are three ways the psalmist calls us to here: root your thinking in scripture; hide it in your heart and finally replace falsehood with truth. So let’s look at this; how can I have productive God focused meditation: a.Root it in Scripture The Psalmist calls us in verse 9: 9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. In almost every stanza of this portion of Psalms 119 and repeated in every portion of Psalm 119 the idea focusing on God’s Word. Psalm 119 is separated into 22 sections; a section for each of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. And its 176 verses are dedicated to God’s word, His Law His statues. Put it simply it is a psalm, a long Psalm about God’s Word; the Bible. Verse 15 calls us and says 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. If you are going to successfully meditate it needs to start and end with Scripture. As I have done my study there are some interesting and very helpful guides. But so many of them say we must start with an empty mind and then let our imagination be filled with thoughts about God. Now that sounds wonderful, and incredibly sentimental. However, I have to ask how do I know that my imaginations are actually God; or my imaginations of God. If I know my own heart; the god of my imagination will always be perversely below the God of Scripture. How can I – a finite being – ever hope to imagine the infinite God? I can’t so I need something to guide my imagination; to focus my thinking and guide my meditations: that something is God’s revelation of Himself to us; His word; the Bible! So we start with Scripture; this could be as simply as taking a verse and thinking over it; or a Psalm, or a passage and just thinking over it; processes it. Next we… b. Hide it in our heart In verse 11 the Psalmist says; 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. What do I mean by hide it in your heart? Well, simply put we allow the word of God to become more than intellectual knowledge; it becomes something we inherently truth in. When I say heart; most of us (because we are influenced by and Aristotelian view of man, say it is the center of emotions. So I know something is in my heart when I feel it. Now this is okay; but it misses what the Scriptural author was meaning when he was speaking about the heart. When the Psalmist says heart he is meaning the totality of his inner being; his core. A best term today that would mean something similar would be our convictions. So when the Psalmist was saying I have hidden your word in my heart; he was saying your words have sunk deep into my being so that they now shape me; they are my convictions. They have moved from my thought life and have become my everything. You see you can know that sugar is bad for you; so, you won’t eat the whole slab of chocolate in one sitting. Or you can be convicted – you know in your gut – that it is not good for you. This December I got super convicted about how bad sugar is for us as a family. And I won’t lie; it made me into a bit of a fanatic; I now check everything I buy and everything that I give my kids for how much sugar is in stuff; and it’s terrifying! Some low fat yogurt has four spoons of sugar in that little tub! You see I used to think sugar was bad; however, that had no impact on my action; when it moved to my heart; I cannot help but now act. So, I will never buy low fat yogurt for myself or my kids again. Silly illustration; but it gets my point across. Scripture needs to move from knowledge to felt convictions. How do we practically do this? How do we move our meditations from just a mind exercise to something that affects our heart? Well, point c… we… c.Replace truth with Truth What I mean by this is we meditate on the big T truth of God so that it replaces the little t truth that we have come to believe that is holding us back. How do we do this? Well we meditate on it. I know this sounds like circular logic; however, let me explain. There are several studies that have been released that link repetition to belief. Many of these are called Low-Involvement learning. Essentially these studies have observed how when something is repeated over and over again; it becomes the truth of those who are either hearing it or saying it. A classical example is how the Nazi in Germany repeated over and over about the Jews. It started out by just repeating the idea that they were Untermensch" (subhuman) and "Judenschwein" (Jewpig). But it became entrenched when Hitler started saying something was "verjudet" ("jewed") when he talked about things that went wrong. What were they doing; they were repeating something until it became the unquestioned conviction of the society; we see this in South African calling foreigners “Cockroaches”. An example closer to home might be; the 5 second rule… if you drop something if you pick it up before 5 seconds its okay… this has no truth to it. How about something more controversial; I’m left brained or right brained? The reality is that in brain scans looking at the activity of over 7,000 areas of the brain, both hemispheres of the brain were equally active in both logical and creative activities. Last one; we have 5 senses. This is simply not true; we have around 21 senses. We have repeated these things until they have become truth… Now the reality is that we can reprogram ourselves through the wonder of meditation and repetition as well. We can replace entrenched beliefs with others if we repeat the truth to ourselves. And that is where meditation on Scripture is so important for us. Scripture is what God desires for us to know about himself; and declares of itself in 2 tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, It is God’s truth to us; therefore, we need to be training ourselves in it. Repeating the truths of scripture to ourselves over and over again until it is not something that is in our heads it is in our hearts; it moves from knowledge to conviction. This means that it starts in knowing Scripture; in other words; you need to know what it says; all of it (in other words read the bible) but it has to move to having Scripture be your conviction. This only happens when we meditate on it day and night! I’ll give you two examples; one was from when I was a kid; I used to struggle with nightmares and fear. I mean as a little thing I was terrified of everything. When a Jo’burg storm was happening my mother used to have to close all the passage doors and hold this quivering mess of a child who was screaming every time lightening crashed. She said at the end of a storm I was a sweaty mess. But I still remember this today; when I was afraid; my mom would tell me to repeat 2 Tim 1:7 “For we have not been given a Spirit of fear but of love power and a sound mind.” The interesting thing is that it took years for that to sink in; but it is now my conviction! Another one was more recent; every now and again I get worried how we are going to pay for something; or afford to this next challenge. And you know how it is; when you get caught by a thought; it runs through your head over and over and keeps you up and literally plagues you. Well, I simply repeated, “My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in Glory.” Phil 4:19 every time I felt that stress come upon me. I have to be honest, it didn’t make the stress go away immediately, and it wasn’t some magical sentence that put more money into my back account. But the more I said it the more I believed it, and the more I believed it the more I was at peace. It became my new conviction! Paul speaks of this reality in Rom 12:2 Romans 12:2 New International Version (NIV) 2 Do not conform 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. How do we renew our mind? Meditate on the Word; think about; dwell on God’s truth! And you know how you know that you have got it? You start to delight in His truth. Verse 16 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. So let’s remember we are all mediating on something; I wondering if the things that are occupying your thoughts are the life giving words of God; or your own affairs and things. I pray that you would today start a Godward meditation rooted in Scripture that will delight your heart in Him! Let’s pray [PRAY]

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