Monday, January 10, 2011

A Conviction for Bible Meditation

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. -Joshua 1:8 (Amplified)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD,and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

Meditation on God's attributes and his Word is a topic that has repeatedly confronted me in my reading during the last few months. While my personality has been described as melancholic or introspective, I find myself lacking in deliberate acts of meditation. I tend to be a fast but thorough reader and though I do take time to stay inside sentences, paragraphs and verses, much of my reading tends to be at a brisk, steady pace.

The question that alerts me is does my reading of the scripture cause me to meditate and praise the perfection of God and his Word? I am often challenged. I am often led to prayer. But still more often I depart far too quickly from the Bible and its life-changing words. The growth of the population and the growth of the internet have created a wealth of teaching and resources for the earnest student of the scriptures and the disciple of Jesus, so much so that we may find ourselves spending too much time with teaching and not enough time with the Teacher. The Holy Spirit does not dictate, He leads. Jesus does not lecture; He walks with us in the way, opening the scriptures for us. As a child of God and a part of the body of Christ, I have access to the mind of Christ, to the actual thoughts of God as communicated by the Holy Spirit and the Bible. Am I interacting with those thoughts? Am I allowing this Holy thought process, this spiritual communication that bleeds into the mental realm transform my mind as Paul writes in Romans 12:2? My heart's desire is to give my mind and the chaotic vortex of human thought which filters and struggles to contain and communicate the desires of both the flesh and the spirit to my Lord and Savior.

J.I. Packer's foundational book Knowing God delivers an incredibly lucid introduction to meditation and defines the practice in high, but non-mystical language and terms. His words inspired this post and hopefully the Holy Spirit continues to inspire me to pursue a deeper immersion in the Word of God.

Meditating on the Truth
How are we to do this? How can we turn our knowledge about God into Knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.
We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask, for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.
Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.
Its purpose is to clear one's mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let his truth make its full and proper impact on one's mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself about God and oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God's power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God's greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us--"comfort" us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word--as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
-J.I. Packer, Knowing God

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