Biblical Meditation

Good morning. It is Tuesday, September 29, 2015. One more day until my favorite month!

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is anomia. This is a medical condition, “the inability to name objects or to recognize the written or spoken names of objects.”

Today is World Heart Day. Heart disease and strokes still kill more people per year than any other disease. Heart Day is part of a “campaign to spread awareness about heart disease and stroke prevention.”

Not a whole lot to write about on a personal level. Yesterday was a pretty average day. Work was fine. Band practice was fun, because we’re practicing Christmas music. We have a good variety of music that we are working on, and quite a bit of it, too. Of course, we have two different concerts that we are preparing for, too; one in November, and one in December.

And the really great thing is that, beginning October 11, these Saturday concerts will no longer interfere with church! But, once again, we have mixed feelings about that. Speaking of church, I ran into our pastor, along with his brother and mother, yesterday evening, right before band practice. I had stopped in Southlake, to have dinner at Zoe’s Kitchen. When I walked out, and started walking down the sidewalk to my car, I saw these three people down at the other end of the strip. I thought, “That looks like Jacob!” Then I saw the other guy, and said, “That looks like Jared!” About that time, Jacob saw me, and we were both, like, “What??” Jacob laughed and said, “I didn’t get to see you this weekend, so the universe aligned to have us meet in Southlake!” Good times! They had been eating at a place called Torchy’s Tacos. He spoke highly of it, so I might try them next Monday.

As the baseball playoffs get closer, the Rangers seem to be doing their best to not be in them. They have lost three in a row, now, and the Astros have won three in a row. The Red Sox are also on a roll, but got eliminated last night when the Astros won again. But the Sox are not in last place, and could even wind up in third place, which would be a great victory for the season.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert;
he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.
When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD,
the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.
Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

Psalm 106:14-18

“For whoever allows himself to desire more than is needful, openly sets himself in direct opposition to God, inasmuch as all fleshly lusts are directly opposed to him.” (p 273)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we continue to look at meditation, the “gateway” between Bible study and prayer, today’s section looks at “Meditation and the Mind.” The word that the Psalmist uses in Psalm 1 means, literally, “to mutter.” This makes reference to the fact that Scripture should be memorized. “There is no better way to meditate on a verse and draw out all the aspects, implications, and richness of its meaning than to memorize it.” There are words in the Psalms, translated as “meditate,” that mean “to ponder and question thoroughly.” In meditation, we ask questions. Questions like, “Am I living in light of this? What difference does this make? Am I taking this seriously? If I believed and held to this, how would that change things? When I forget this, how does that affect me and all my relationships?” Meditation makes intense use of the mind.

It also assumes that we already know something about the text upon which we meditate. “You can’t reflect on or enjoy what you don’t understand.” In order to understand a particular passage of Scripture, several questions must be asked. “First, what did the original author intend to convey to his readers in the passage? Second, what role does this text play in the whole Bible; how does it contribute to the gospel message and move along the main narrative arc of the Bible, which climaxes in the salvation of Jesus Christ?”

If we do not do the difficult work of answering those questions, our meditation will not be “grounded in what God is actually saying in the passage.” We run the risk of listening to our own hearts, or worse, to the “spirit of [our] own culture.” There is a popular Bible reading technique that has arisen in the past few years, known as “lectio divina.” While do believe there to be some value in this, it is dangerous, as it encourages the reader to hear a personal word from God. “Martin Luther said that before he could turn a biblical text into praise, he first needed to understand it as ‘instruction,’ as truthful information.” True, biblical meditation must be “founded on the work of sound biblical interpretation and study.”

Finally, we also must note the difference between biblical meditation and “mantra meditation.” “Biblical mediation does not empty the mind of rational thought.” (Emphasis mine) Christian meditation is very rational, sometimes even argumentative. Consider David’s meditation in Psalm 42: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (v 11) Here, David is “contending with his own heart.” While TM, or mantra meditation, seeks to “suppress the analytical side of the mind,” Christian meditation “stimulates our analysis and reflection–and centers it on the glory and grace of God.”

Father, again, I ask you to teach me the proper method of meditation, that I might know more about your Word and what it says and means to me. I trust your Holy Spirit to influence me and bring me along in this. Help me to keep my mind focused during times of meditation and prayer, for this is one of my biggest weakness, currently. Help me to understand passages that I choose for meditation, and then bring me into the glory of your presence as I lift up my prayers to you.

I pray for this day, that our passage to work and back will be safe. I pray for the day, that work will go well. I lift up tonight’s Huddle meeting, that we will know your presence as we see what you are saying to us. May you bring healing to Christi’s pains. I pray for your grace and mercy to rain down on the rest of our family today.

I pray for Brandon, our brother in Christ, who is working to demolish the house that burned a few weeks ago. May you protect him and strengthen him and bring him encouragement in some way.

I also pray for little Andrew, who is struggling mightily as he processes the death of his grandfather.

Come, Lord Jesus.

If we understand true meditation, we will not fear it. Biblical meditation can bring a wealth of possibility as we step into the presence of God in prayer.

Grace and peace, friends.

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