Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Difficulty of Bible Meditation

Good morning. Here is my latest article for the Harvey Oaks Baptist newsletter.

Don Whitney wrote: “Those who make the most rapid, consistent, and evident growth in Christlikeness are those who have developed a daily time of being alone with God for Bible meditation, prayer and private worship.” Along with prayer and worship, Bible meditation is essential for our Christian growth. On October 23, I will preach a sermon for my Doctor of Ministry project. It is a problem-centered sermon where I will address the difficulty and lack of biblical meditation among evangelical Christians in America.

This is a “problem” because the lack of meditation on the Word of God will cause us to miss out on the treasures of knowing and delighting in God. My scripture text will be Psalm 1. The first three verses are:

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. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law meditates day and night. 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.

The Hebrew word for blessed is a strong word that means more than “happiness”. The idea here is a person will experience God’s special favor and grace when he or she does not listen and follow the advice of people who are not followers of Jesus. Instead, the blessed person will delight in the Word of God. Delighting in scripture is linked to meditation on it.

This is where the problem often is with many of us—we simply do not meditate on the scriptures. We are aware of God’s promises when we do: we will be blessed by him and we will spiritually flourish and prosper just like a tree that is planted by streams of water (verse 3). Why is Bible meditation so difficult for us?

One reason perhaps is that it takes discipline to not only read and memorize a Bible verse, but then to repeat and reflect on those words. If we are convinced of the first reason, then that may lead to a second reason: that the discipline of scripture meditation will drain us of energy rather than refresh us and help become more like Jesus. We are already “over-loaded” with things to do throughout the day. We can hardly imagine actually setting aside even more time to meditate on the Word of God.

Yet, if we do, we are promised that our Christianity will be like a tree whose roots run deep into the soil. Such trees will consistently bear the fruit of Christlikeness and eternal impact on the people around us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote during the days of Nazi Germany:

“Daily, quiet reflection on the Word of God as it applies to me (even if only for a few minutes) becomes for me a point of crystallization for everything which gives interior and exterior order to my life. Our previous ordered life has been broken up and dissolved in these present days, and we are in danger of losing our inner sense of order, too, because of the rush of events, the demands of work, doubts, temptations, conflicts, and unrest of all kinds. Meditation can give to our lives a measure of steadfastness…

…Meditation is a source of peace, of patience and of joy; it is like a magnet which draws together all the forces in our life which make for order; it is like deep water which reflects the clouds and the sun on its clear surface” (Meditating on the Word, pgs. 51-52).

On October 23, we look together on how we can all delight in the Word of God.

Monday, September 26, 2005

If God is Not Sovereign

Recently when I was in England, I bought a book by R.T. Kendall called "Out of the Comfort Zone." Most of the book is hard hitting and convicting. But here is somewhat of a humorous quote with a strong message...

"This reminds me of a friend of mine whose six-year-old son knelt at his bedside and prayed, 'God bless Daddy and Mummy and me and, oh yes, please take care of yourself because if anything happens to you we are going to be in an awful mess.' If God is not sovereign, there is no hope that our Lord Jesus will triumph in the end as he did when God raised him from the dead" (pg. 104).

Praise the Lord that He rules all things. Thus, he can be depended on and trusted even when life around us is chaotic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Most Powerful Word in the Bible

Good Morning. I pulled this off http// If revival is going to come to us, then we must daily surrender to Jesus.

The Most Powerful Word In The Bible

What is required?If any man will come. Discipleship begins with an option – IF. If any man would come... Discipleship is a deliberate choice, an act of the will. Many fall into discipleship at other’s request or by situation, but Jesus desires that his disciples choose to volunteer themselves as his disciples.

The terms:

1. Let him deny himself. Admission into Christ’s school of discipleship begins with self-denial – it is the first lesson learned and the foundation from which all other lessons are built upon. Those who have learned self-denial are those who deny themselves absolutely and do nothing to seek life on their own terms. They are those who lay down their lives for others and only for their good. They have understood the difference between time and eternity and have chosen to forsake this life for the time to come. They no longer love this life’s rewards such as thinking their time is their own, no longer love leisure, power, authority and financial security for they have discovered how empty these really are. They become free to follow Christ and in so doing, will inherit eternal life and begin immediately to experience abundant life and the benefits of truly following Christ Jesus.

2. Let him take up his cross. The troubles of believers are rightly called crosses – troubles including God’s afflictions, persecution for righteousness’ sake, troubles we encounter whether for doing well or for not doing evil. Isaiah calls this the bread of adversity and the water of affliction - my cross, my troubles are my substance (Is. 30:20). Every disciple has his cross. Every disciple must bear the cross that God has provided. My cross is not your cross. Your cross is not mine. I must not avoid, add to, or take away from that which Father God has made for me. I must take up my cross and not think what I am facing as an accident or evil, but I must rejoice in my afflictions for I know that it is working for my good. I must deny myself the pleasure of sin and the fleeting, deceptive advantages of this world for Christ.

3. Let him follow me. If I have denied myself, have taken up my cross, I now can follow Christ. He then bears my cross for me and bears it from me. I must follow Christ in all instances of holiness and obedience. As a disciple, I must study and imitate Christ, conforming myself to his example, regardless of what the world suggests or what troubles lie ahead. I must do well and I must suffer troubles for this is the way of Christ. A disciple studies to imitate their Master, and conforms themselves in every thing to his example, and continues in well doing, whatever troubles lie in their way. To do well and to suffer ill is to follow Christ. If any man will come after me, let him follow me. Those that come after Christ must follow after him.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Peace and Righteousness

Good Morning. I read from Isaiah chapter 48 earlier today and in verse 18, God said to his people that they forfeited peace and righteousness because of their rebellion...

"Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea..."
Are we missing out on God's perfect peace because we are not obeying him? Is our righteousness consistent like the waves of the sea?
I know that I need to pay more attention to God. How about you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Revival in 1949 on the Isle of Lewis

One of my favorite books on revival is by Brian Edwards: Revival! A People Saturated with God In the book is a description about the revival that God sent to the Isle of Lewis in 1949...

"In 1949, on the Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland, Duncan Campbell witnessed... scenes of conviction over personal sin: 'The awful presence of God brought a wave of conviction of sin that caused even mature Christians to feel their sinfulness, bringing groans of distress and prayers of repentance from the unconverted. Strong men were bowed under the weight of sin and cries for mercy were mingled with shouts of joy from others who had passed into life' "(pg. 116).

Oh, for this to occur in our churches today!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Why We Must Pray

Centuries ago, William Law (1686-1761) wrote: "He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life."

Prayer is more than just bringing to God our requests. Prayer is coming into the very presence of the Most High God. His presence will bring joy and an urgency to be His holy representatives in the world