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Meditation: The Halfway House between Bible Study and Prayer

Meditation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:31
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Meditation Defined

It is sequestering oneself for a time of serious and solemn thinking upon God in order to stir up heavenly affections.
Matthew 14:23 ESV
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Genesis 24:63 ESV
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.
Meditation is where we step out of the world and set ourselves aside for heaven. If the wings of the bird are full of slime, she cannot fly: Meditation gives our soul wings for heavenly flight but how can they fly when they are slimed with earth.
It was said of St. Bernard that when he came to the church doors he would pray; “stay here all my worldly thoughts that I may converse with God.” Let us prepare ourselves for meditation by praying; “Vain thoughts I leave you at this door for I go to meditate on more.” When going up the mountain of meditation do all you can to prevent the world from following.
The Hebrew word to meditate, signifies with intense thinking on serious and solemn matters. Meditation is not a random work. It more than a few transient thoughts of God. There must be in meditation a fixing of one’s heart upon an object. It is the arduous task of elevating ones thoughts.
Joel Beeke illustration about wet wood
Meditation stirs up heavenly affections. A Christian enters into meditation, as a man enters into a bath, that he may be cleansed, refreshed, and renewed. Meditation enables the soul to cleanse itself from worldly stains.
Meditation is the chewing upon the truths we have heard. In the Old Testament beasts that did not chew the cud were considered unclean and so is the christian who does not meditate. Christian; do you filled distance and dirty? Cold and Calloused? Stale and Stagnated? Do you meditate? How long has it been since you last meditated.
Meditation is like the watering of the seed, it makes the fruits of grace to flourish.

Meditation is our duty.

Meditation is a required duty. Therefore, it is to be obeyed not opposed. Just as we are commanded to believe in order to be saved. We are commanded to meditate in order to be sanctified.
Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Psalm 1:2 ESV
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Meditation is different

Meditation is different than memorizing.

Memorizing scripture elevates meditation but memorizing without meditation is dry. When we combine memorization with meditation sweetness emerges from Scripture. Memorization is like swallowing your food whole; while meditation is chewing and savoring foods flavor. Memory is like a pantry where food is stored and meditation is plate from which we eat. We are not called to remember but ruminate Scripture.
Meditation is intrinsically verbal. This means the Psalmist memorized God’s Word — for one cannot continually mutter the Scripture without memorizing it, and vice versa.
Personally applied, this tells us that along with our systematic reading of the Bible, we ought to select especially meaningful segments to reverently mutter over.
Slowly and prayerfully turning over Scripture in this manner engages the eyes, the ears, and the mouth, and drills through the granite to the heart — maximizing internalization and devotion.

Meditation is different than studying.

Study is a work of the brain; while meditation is a work of the heart. Study searches for the vein of gold; while meditation digs out the gold.

Meditation is difficult

Why does Christian’s seem to be so impotent? Because there are so few who practice meditation. Why do so few practice this discipline? Because it is difficult. It is easier to listen than it is to linger. We are swift to hear but slow to meditate. This duty has grown out of fashion because people are to busy (being under Satan’s yoke) in work that they are seldom on the Mount with God.
Not only are they too busy in work but in the world. It’s easy to have one’s pursue stolen in a crowd and even easier to lose one’s thought of God in worldly employments. As long as one’s heart is in the world it cannot be expected to be in worship.
If you are to busy to meditate then you have failed to realize your true business. Too busy for your spouse will result in a broken marriage. Too busy for your children will result in broken children. Never be too busy for that which is your true business.
Where is the Christian that meditates on sin, hell, eternity, the recompence of reward, that takes a prospect of heaven every day?
Salvation cost Christ his blood sanctification may well cost us sweat.
Matthew 11:12 ESV
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.
They want a crown without a cross. If you do not find God’s Word a delight you will find meditation difficult.
Meditation is a means of mortification. Meditation is violence against our flesh.
Romans 8:13 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Meditation is hard
Christian’s want delight without difficulty. They want a crown without a cross. If you do not find God’s Word a delight you will find meditation difficult.
Christian’s want delight without difficulty. They want a crown without a cross. If you do not find God’s Word a delight you will find meditation difficult.
Psalm 1:2 ESV
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
If you do not delight in God’s Word then make this Scripture your prayer of help in this your time of trouble. . .
Psalm 119:36–37 ESV
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Psalm 119:36 ESV
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Meditation may seem like a yoke to heavy to bear but once it is on it become easy and what once left like a yoke now wears as a crown. The more you meditate on him the sweeter he will become to you.
Thomas Watson said
The poets say the top of Olympus was always quiet and serene: it is hard climbing up the rocky hill of meditation, but when we are got up to the top, there is a pleasant prospect, and we shall sometimes think ourselves even in heaven.
An angel was sent to comfort Christ in the wilderness and when the soul is alone in meditation God sends not an angel to comfort but His own Spirit.
When a Christian encounters His Lord in meditation he would not exchange it difficulties for all the world’s riches. Our encounter with the Lord in meditation will lead us to say with David
Watson, T. (1829). A Christian on the Mount, or a Treatise concerning Meditation. In Discourses on Important and Interesting Subjects, Being the Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson (Vol. 1, p. 246). Edinburgh; Glasgow: Blackie, Fullarton, & Co.; A. Fullarton & Co.
Psalm 119:97 ESV
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 63:6 ESV
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
Psalm 63:3 ESV
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
Don’t let the difficulty discourage you for pleasantness will infinitely counteract the pains.
Psalm 119
Psalm 119:36-37

Meditation and the Devil

The devil is an enemy to meditation. He does not care how much you read or hear. He is only concerned with how much you meditate. He knows that meditation is a means to building a fully devoted follower of Christ. Now this the devil is against. Satan is content with you being a hearing and praying Christian, just as long as you do not become a meditating Christian. He can’t keep you from owning the gun but he works continuously to keep you from loading it and pulling the trigger.
Watson, T. (1829). A Christian on the Mount, or a Treatise concerning Meditation. In Discourses on Important and Interesting Subjects, Being the Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson (Vol. 1, p. 241). Edinburgh; Glasgow: Blackie, Fullarton, & Co.; A. Fullarton & Co.
Watson, T. (1829). A Christian on the Mount, or a Treatise concerning Meditation. In Discourses on Important and Interesting Subjects, Being the Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson (Vol. 1, pp. 240–241). Edinburgh; Glasgow: Blackie, Fullarton, & Co.; A. Fullarton & Co.

Meditation is to be Deliberate

Set some time apart every day that you may in a serious and solemn manner communion with God.
When should you meditate? Pick a time that suits your schedule and style. The best time to communion with God is when we may be our most private. For most the morning is the golden hour. It is the first part of our day. Scripture teaches that God wants our first fruits. What better way to begin our day than to give our first thoughts and words to our Lord.
"I ought to pray before seeing any one. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, it is eleven or twelve o'clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. It is unscriptural. Christ arose before day and went into a solitary place. David says: 'Early will I seek thee'; 'Thou shalt early hear my voice.' It is far better to begin with God—to see his face first, to get my soul near him before it is near another."
-Robert Murray M’Cheyne
"Rose early to seek God and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?" -Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Psalm 119:147 ESV
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Why the morning for meditation?
In the morning our mind is fittest for communion. What kind of devotion can be given at night after the business of the day but weary devotion. A weary Christian is more fit for sleep than to meditate. In the morning our memory is its strongest, our spirit is fresh, and our body revive. This is our best time to spend with God and find ourselves most in tune with him. In the morning the heart is like a violin strung and put in tune, and then it makes the sweetest melody.
Morning thoughts stay with longer. Those thoughts received by the mind in the morning will not be easily lost. How many times has your first thoughts of the morning linger without escape throughout your day. They are like a perfume that lingers after an embrace.
Whatever you give your heart to in the morning will stir your heart throughout the day.
We should imitate the pattern of past saints such as Job who rose early in the morning.
Job 1:5 ESV
And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Psalm 119:147 ESV
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Genesis 19:27 ESV
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.
Psalm 5:3 ESV
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Exodus 34:4 ESV
So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.
Do you love the Lord? Do you seek to honor and glorify him in all that you do? If our answer is yes then let us give God our morning meditations. We should think of Him first because he deserves our first thoughts. Some of God’s first thoughts were about us.
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Before we fell he was thinking how to raise us. If we had some of God’s first thoughts, may he have some of our first thoughts.
Watson, T. (1829). A Christian on the Mount, or a Treatise concerning Meditation. In Discourses on Important and Interesting Subjects, Being the Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson (Vol. 1, pp. 250–251). Edinburgh; Glasgow: Blackie, Fullarton, & Co.; A. Fullarton & Co.
There are additional Scriptures, not as many, that promote evening meditations. Exodus teaches us that there was both a morning and evening sacrifice.
Meditation must be deliberate but it can break forth at anytime. As we practice deliberate meditation we will prime our hearts for occasional meditations. A meditating heart can turn any object into fuel for meditation. There is no command concerning the time of day that ones meditation should be carried out only that meditation be done.
Watching a bird feed may raise the following meditation; look at the birds of the air they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they.
Watching your hair fall to the beauty shop floor may raise the following meditation. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value.”

The Duration of Meditation

How long should I meditate? Again there is no command concerning time. Many who have studied this subject have suggested that we meditate until you find your heart growing warm.
If a man is cold; how long should he stand by the fire? Till he is thoroughly warm. David said . . .
Psalm 39:3 ESV
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
Personally applied, this tells us that along with our systematic reading of the Bible, we ought to select especially meaningful segments to reverently mutter over.
We should adopt the following resolution; “Lord, I will never come away from you without you.”
Slowly and prayerfully turning over Scripture in this manner engages the eyes, the ears, and the mouth, and drills through the granite to the heart — maximizing internalization and devotion.

Doing Meditation

How

How do you do this?

Look at the metaphor used in our text? A tree drawing from its roots on streams of water is the image for what it means to meditate. Meditating is feeding on the Word, not just studying it, not just learning about it, not just reading it. It’s feeding on it spiritually. It’s taking it on in, drawing it up into yourself. You an only work out what you work in.

We draw up

In meditation we draw up from the “the law of the Lord”.
The law of the Lord. Why does it say you’re supposed to put your roots down in the law of the Lord? Why doesn’t it just say the Bible? Why doesn’t it just say the Word of God? Some people say, “Well maybe it’s saying you have to meditate on the parts of the Bible that are law, like Exodus. Maybe you’re supposed to meditate on the Ten Commandments.” That’s probably not what the psalmist is thinking.
For example, there’s a place in the New Testament where Jesus says, “Have you not read in your law?” and then he quotes a Scripture passage, but it’s from the Psalms. Why would Jesus Christ call the Psalms law? The answer is the law of the Lord is often used in the Bible to speak of the whole of Scripture as authoritative. We’re only going to do another minute on this, but next week we’re going to do the whole message on this.
For example, there’s a place in the New Testament where Jesus says, “Have you not read in your law?” and then he quotes a Scripture passage, but it’s from the Psalms. Why would Jesus Christ call the Psalms law? The answer is the law of the Lord is often used in the Bible to speak of the whole of Scripture as authoritative. We’re only going to do another minute on this, but next week we’re going to do the whole message on this.
The Scripture will never move from being just a set of words on a piece of paper to a vehicle for an encounter with the living God unless you accept its authority in completely.
The famous great Jewish writer of the twentieth century, Martin Buber, said unless you accept the Scripture completely, you may read it but you can’t hear it.
This is what he means by this. It won’t be a living word from God unless you accept it completely. Why? If you come to a place where you say, “Well, I can’t believe that but I can’t believe _____________,” you can’t wrestle with God.
If you have a great marriage, sometimes you wrestle. If you have a great friendship, sometimes you wrestle. You come at each other. You say, “I don’t think you’re right.” In real relationship you wrestle.
If you don’t accept the Bible in its entirety you are creating a God who you can’t possibly wrestle with, a God who is impotent, a God who can’t knock you down, can’t punch you in the chops.
In fact, it is impossible for you to have a life-changing encounter with God unless you see Him as authoritative. You’re not going to be able to draw anything up unless you see it as authoritative.
Unless you see the Bible as law, authoritative, it can’t be love. It can’t come in and prove to you what you don’t want to believe. Such as; you are more sinful than you ever imagine but that you are more cherished, loved, and accepted than you ever imagined.
When you feel worthless and you read something in the Bible that says you’re not, you won’t believe it. You won’t be able to wrestle because Scripture is not law. It won’t be able to come in. It won’t be able to change you. So the first how-to in practice is you cannot meditate unless you see the Scripture as the law of the Lord.

We draw on

B. How do you draw on it? Think about the image. Fruit comes from drawing on the water. What’s interesting is the tree is not a pipe. A pipe would draw the water in at one end, and what would come out the other end? Water. The tree draws water in at one end, and what comes out the other end? Fruit. What this means is meditation is making the Word flesh. Meditation is making a principle a reality. This is true both cognitively and emotionally.
Think about the image. Fruit comes from drawing on the water. What’s interesting is the tree is not a pipe. A pipe would draw the water in at one end, and what would come out the other end? Water. The tree draws water in at one end, and what comes out the other end? Fruit. What this means is meditation is making the Word flesh. Meditation is making a principle a reality. This is true both cognitively and emotionally.
Cognitively, it means meditation means sitting and saying, “Okay, if that’s true, what would it look like in my life? What would it look like in my marriage? What would it look like in my relationships at work? If the Word is true, how would it become flesh?” You think out the implications. “If that’s true, how should I be feeling?”
“If that’s true, how should I be feeling?” That’s the second thing. It’s not just only that the Word becomes flesh cognitively; it’s also true the intellectual becomes sense. When you meditate, you look and say, “God is loving. Think of that, O my soul. God has sent his Son. Think of that, O my soul.” In other words, you think about it and reflect on it until the Word becomes something you sense on your heart. You don’t just know it; you see it. You don’t just know it; you taste it. You don’t just know it; you feel it. It affects you in the center of your being.
Not only does the Word becomes flesh cognitively but emotionally as well. In meditation you think and reflect until the Word becomes something you sense on your heart. You don’t just know it; you see it. You don’t just know it; you taste it. You don’t just know it; you feel it. It affects the center of your being.
So meditation is taking something and making it real. Now how does that work?
Do you know the word meditate can mean to repeat to yourself? The word meditate that’s used here can also mean to plot or imagine or work it out.
Here is one way of many. This is a modification of a method practiced by Martin Luther.

Start with slow reading. Read the text several times and then distill the teaching by asking four questions.

What does this tell me about what God does?

What does this tell me about who God is?

What does this tell me that about who I am?

What does this tell me about who I should be?

After answering these four questions use the acronym A.C.T.S. to make the Word flesh.

Adore . . . How can I love and adore God based on this teaching?

Confession . . . What do I need to confess to God based on this teaching?

Thanksgiving . . . What can I thank God for based on this teaching?

Supplication . . . What can I ask God to do based on this teaching?

Example: The Lord’s Prayer

“T” means get the teaching. What’s the teaching of this Word? “A” is … How can I adore God for this truth? “C” is … What sin can I confess on the basis of this truth? “S” is … What can I ask God for on the basis of this truth? Adore, confess, supplication. The way I do it is I look at a word, I look at a phrase, or I look at a sentence, and I say, “What’s the teaching?” Once I write the teaching down I say, “How great is a God who would say this?”

Our Father,

For example, how would you meditate on ? “We have a delightful God. We have a speaking God, not a God we can’t know.” In other words, “If is true, who is God? How great is he?” Secondly, “If is true, I’m lazy.” Confession. “I’m un-diligent. I’m neglecting something the Bible says is absolutely critical to my future.” Then supplication. “O Lord, make me a tree. I feel very chaffy right now.”

Distill the main teaching. When Jesus taught us to pray he didn’t teach us to pray my Father. What is the main teaching . . . God has placed us in a family.

Adore: Thank you for putting me in your family.

Confession: Forgive me for not praying with others. Forgive me for preferring isolation over involvement.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for a Faith Family. Thank you that we can pray together and for one another.

Supplication: Father strengthen my resolve to be more consistent in my praying with my family of faith.

Resolve with my Father’s enablement to seek out and take advantage of every opportunity to unite my heart in prayer with those whom “Our Father” has placed in my family.

Dedication

The Psalmist says that we are to do this day and night. I do not believe this is speaking of duration but of discipline. Do it everyday. Take a passage of Scripture, meditate on it, talk to your soul about it, think out the implications of it, work it out mentally, work it out emotionally, until you hear God speaking to you, and then answer him.
Do it over and over and over again. It may take a long time before you begin to even sense the things we’re talking about here. How fast do roots grow down into the river? Overnight? Of course not. But do it, and these things will be true of you.
Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Prayer does one of its most deep and satisfying works when it intersects with the Word of God in our lives. Without prayer the Word lies before us as a blank page. We must cry out again and again with the psalmist,
Prayer does one of its most deep and satisfying works when it intersects with the Word of God in our lives. Without prayer the Word lies before us as a blank page. We must cry out again and again with the psalmist,
Psalm 119:18 ESV
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:12 ESV
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
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