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.

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