Week 8  – Bible 101 – Meditate

In the final week of our Live Salted Summer Series we are looking into the idea of meditating on God’s Word. We have studied the other fingers of our “Whole Hand Metaphor” – hear, read, study and memorize, and now it is time to look deeper into the one that holds them all together and brings stability. PS: As you are going through this study, make sure you check out this week’s #SpotifySaturday.


Meditate – The ThumbWholehadmetaphor

You have made it!! This is the final week of our eight week series, and we will be wrapping up our whole hand metaphor with our thumb. Our thumb represents “meditate,” and it is the one idea that works together with every “finger.” Remember that activity we had you do the first week with holding your phone? If not, let’s do it again real quick. Try and balance your phone on one finger. Flimsy, yes? Now grab your phone between your thumb and any other finger. It quickly becomes a pretty solid hold, right? That tells us measures about the importance of meditation when it comes to grasping God’s Word. 


We Must Slow Down

Hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing are all essential spiritual practices, but if we do each of these things and never slow to meditate on the Word of God – to marinate in it and digest it – then we will miss out on much of the supernatural work God is wanting to do in us…

Imagine this:

You chewed up your food really really well, so it is small enough to pass through your system, and then your food does just that – it passes through with your body not absorbing any of the nutrients from it. You might have felt “full” for a period of time, but it won’t be long until your body recognizies that it didn’t take in any of the essential vitamins and nutrients it needs to grow and be strong. In this metaphor, the intestine {click for a little science lesson on the intestine; yay school!} of the spiritual digestive process represents meditation.


The Guts of Meditation 

Do you know how long your intestine is? It’s really really long. About 4 times the length of your twin-sized dorm room bed. Crazy right?! But it makes sense, because your body wants to maximize every morsel of food you have chewed by breaking it down and absorbing all the nutrients it can, and that takes time as the food passes through. Not only does the intestine draw out from your food everything that the body needs for health, but it also absorbs water and salt {!} and destroys enemy bacteria and tells you how the food you ate is doing in you. Yep, your intestine is full of nerves and will “talk” to you – a stomach ache when you have eaten garbage, nausea if you have eaten something poisonous, or conversely, comfortable and quiet when it is functioning well!

When we take time to meditate on all that we have “chewed on”, we give the Holy Spirit, our helper and counselor, space to speak into our lives, to move our hearts to action, to repentance, to service and to love.

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It is the working out of the Christian life in the everyday moments that demands our mindfulness.


So, what is Meditation Exactly?

Let’s start with what it is not. It’s not dependent on a yoga mat, a particular bodily position, or even a one hour class. While those are surely helpful practices to get into a posture of meditation, the only thing you really need to meditate is your will and your brain. It is the choice of bringing the attention of your mind to a particular subject. In this context, meditation is turning that attention to the Lord.

Meditate: To engage in contemplation or reflection; to focus one’s thoughts on; reflect or ponder over; to plan or project in the mind

The word reflect is similarly interesting in light of what Timothy talks about:

Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” –2 Timothy 2:7

Reflect: to think quietly and calmly

So…what is it that you think about?

We can focus our thoughts on leafy greens or on empty calories. Treasure or trash. On what we have or what we desire from others. Positive or negative. Right or wrong. 


Activity!

Open up a journal, take out a piece of paper and take a moment to answer this question: What most consumes your mind throughout the day? This could be in a list form, a pie chart reflecting the amount of time each activity takes up, or doodles inside of a brain outline – whatever works for you! I would imagine there are both positive and negative thought patterns, as well as a bit of empty space.  Be as honest as you possibly can.

Once you have taken stock of your normal mental activity, let’s look at what God invites us to focus our minds upon:

  • Do not conform any longer 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. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” – Romans 12:1-3
  • “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 he 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…” –Psalm 1

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  • “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”Joshua 1:8
  • You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” – Deuteronomy 11:18-20

I love that this verse in Deuteronomy makes it clear that we don’t need to have our Bible open, or to be in a “quiet time” at a particular hour of the day with the perfect setup to experience God! That practice allows the Word to get in us, but that is just a sliver of our lives! What happens when we stand up, walk out the door, and life smacks us in the face?! Begin to notice when God brings a Scripture “randomly” to mind in the midst of your day. Think about it! Use the questions you know to ponder, “Why might this have popped up?” As you are walking to your car or biking across town, ask, “What promise or command might I need to hear today?” As you are walking along with friends, ask them what they think about what you have been reading.

Be curious and let God’s word wash you in the midst of your everyday moments!

watchyourthoughts

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.


David = The Man

Doyouthirst?I have sort of a crush on David. Ya, the little guy who killed the giant who grew up to be king, and despite bad boy moments, his heart was inextricably tied to God. He is such a wonderful, handsome mess. I love how David just adores God. Despite all his blunders and wayward thoughts and actions, he is honest and repentant and responds to God’s relentless love by always turning back to the One who is faithful. He says this:

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” – Psalms 119:97 


“Law” in the Hebrew Scriptures did not mean “rules” as it does today.  We can define God’s Law as the Word of God that does not alter or change and is good for life! For David, this would have been the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. While the ten commandments and other “rules” are included, the Scripture as a whole points to God’s goodness and holiness and pursuit of us. 

Like David, do you thirst for it? Do you thirst for the Scripture, to be in unity with God?

….or does this sound overwhelming and so far from where you are currently standing in relation to Scripture? If this is you, you are not alone! Like just about anything in our lives, we acquire a taste for it. Just start nibbling and ask God for a fresh fill of the Holy Spirit. 


The Gospel + the Enemy

If you have recognized that you are broken without Jesus, that you have a condition you cannot heal or correct, and believe {however limited your understanding might be} that Jesus died for you, that his blood was shed for your sins to make you new, then you have the opportunity to invite the Holy Spirit to reside in your heart. And when the Holy Spirit invades your life, then your taste buds begin to change. We have a new thirst for God’s presence, and also a heightened awareness of those things that are opposed to God. This awareness can create a dissonance, but that is meant to be! Again, this is a discomfort that God, in His great love, allows!

The enemy of God, Satan, is a liar.  He lurks in the shadows, intending to attack you in your everyday moments. He can’t touch you when your heart and mind are focused on Jesus. But if He can somehow distract you, get you to momentarily take your eyes off of the author and perfecter of your faith and peek even for a second at the waves (Hello Peter!) we sink!


Peter on the Water

That story of Peter is so beautiful because the moment Peter realizes he is beginning to sink and calls out to Jesus, Jesus catches him by the arm and helps Him back in the boat.peterandjesus

Why do I diverge here? Because Peter was in the midst of focusing his eyes on Jesus and He, like us, got distracted. His meditations moved from the one who could calm the storm to the storm itself – things that were scary, out of his control, threatening, dark. This is an excerpt from Stephen Simpson that is so helpful when it comes to wayward thinking:

When you catch yourself meditating on something undesirable, renounce it and cast it away. Step on it to kill it. Replace the thought with a good one, such as a prayer, a memorized scripture or song.

Do not be discouraged if you find yourself thinking about that same thing only a minute or two later. Simply recognize sin as sin [anything that draws you away from relationship with God], renounce it again and choose to replace the thought with something worthwhile. You will find that many of your personal idols are firmly attached to your hearts as if with elastic bands so when you throw them away they just snap back at you. But eventually the elastic will break and you will be free.

Similarly, do not think it strange if you find it difficult to cast off the undesirable thought pattern. Remember that your heart has a basic tendency to enjoy such things; you will be fighting with yourself. But you do not have to give in.”notoftimidity


Keep Fighting

Don’t give in! Keep fighting! Your mind and your heart are both like clay – being shaped and formed with each passing day – and the more you press into the Lord, the more you will be changed. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7     


Mindfulness is a Practice 

Mindfulness is hard, and being present with your thoughts and actions is hard, and learning how to meditate is hard, but like all things – with practice comes progress so here are a few questions to consider to help you along the way.

Ask yourself:

  • Whose hands are forming my heart and mind?
  • What are they being formed into?
  • What is my responsibility in the process? 

Take notice of:

  1. What you read
  2. What you look at
  3. What you listen to
  4. The people you associate with
  5. What you think about

Whether you carefully plan who you want to be or if you just let life happen, your character is becoming solidified by what you choose to take in, spend time with, listen to. 

Meditate on.

  • The things God has done for me and others I know.
  • The holiness and perfection of God.
  • The Beauty of Christ
  • Our meeting with God after our life here is complete
  • Our eternal fellowship which we will have with Him
  • The meaning/application of any specific passage of Scripture.
  • Anything God has just taught us or made us aware of
  • Questions regarding the will of God.
  • The salvation He has given us
  • The life He has freed us from

When you meditate on the things of God you will gain wisdom, purity, spiritual maturity and intimacy with God. 


The Hard Truth is that it takes DISCIPLINE

I am the first to admit that I fail regularly at the very things I am proposing, but I am determined to not give up. I am inspired by Olympic athletes who persistently train and sacrifice so much to contend for the glory of gold. I am encouraged by Paul’s letter to Timothy:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Paul says ‘train yourself’. I am struck that our godliness is our own responsibility. I can blame no one for my lack of fitness, physically or spiritually, but myself. God can pursue me, and will, for all the days of my life, but until I partner with Him, step into His training facility and get to work, I will have no spiritual muscle to show for it! And he has so graciously given us everything we need:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:3-11

When we pursue relationship with Jesus, it is through that relationship {not white knuckling or even just memorizing our Bibles!} that we have access to everything we need to live a full and successful life. Not successful by the world’s standards. Not even trouble free. But full in the sense that we know that we are loved, we are chosen, and that God is pleased with us. Does anything else really matter?! And because we are loved and have everything we need, we should ‘make every effort’ to grow in godliness.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“The NIV says “goes into strict training”, but the literal meaning of this Greek verb is to “exercise self-control”. Everyone who competes in the games must exercise self-control if he is to have any chance of winning. Further study of the word brings out the idea of forcing oneself to do a thing or starving oneself. A self-controlled man, then, is one who voluntarily drags himself in a direction contrary to the common nature of a man, in order to achieve something that the uncontrolled man would never achieve. Both may have a desire to achieve something good, but only the man with self-control will be able to be able to achieve it because he is able to use his time and resources to his advantage. The man without self-control is like the would-be jogger. He goes from day-to-day only wishing he could be different.” {Simpson}

How painfully familiar is this analogy? Ten months after having my fourth child, I have hit a plateau. I keep dreaming of exercise and a sleeker bod, and yet I keep eating cake and scrambling after toddlers, hardly what one can call exercise despite the fact that my blood pressure is often high!

You might resonate. So this week, if you want to join me, I invite you to commit to mindfulness – I have removed social media from my phone for the week and replaced that spot with my Bible. I plan to take stock of what goes in my mouth as well as what comes out of it. To assess what I am watching and reading and thinking about. To write in my calendar several times when I am going to exercise my body and also several times when I am going to ponder the things of God. And my prayer is that together, we would get fit. That we would find ourselves intentionally meditating on things of God, so much so that we begin to unintentionally have our thoughts turn toward him throughout our day.

Please share with me and the Live Salted community stories of your growth and your delight in the Lord. Let’s get after it sisters!


Challenge

In the next few days, keep a log of what you think about. At the end of the day, take stock of what consumed your thoughts that day. What was helpful? What was wasteful? Ask the Holy Spirit if there were any lies to be refuted and if there is a verse to memorize to replace lies with truth.

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Bible 101 RECAP

The Bible is a library, a collection of 66 books by 40 authors spanning 3000 years. It is a library full of poetry, law, songs, prayers, letters, building codes, history, biography and wisdom – the WHOLE point of which is a love story of how God is glorious and adventurous, and the definition of true love, and is in wild pursuit of you and me.

The Bible is our window through which to see JESUS. It is a swab for our spiritual ears so that we can hear the voice of the One calling out to us. The one who offers life to the full!  

When we meditate on the Word of God that we have read, listened to, studied, and memorized, that is when it’s richness may be absorbed deep into our spiritual bones, and the Spirit can help to identify what in us is poisonous and needs to be expelled, and what is healthy that we might need more of!

Continue to visit the source of the living water and to feed yourself the Bread of Life daily! There is nothing if not life with Jesus.

Blessings and hope to pick up here again with you soon!

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