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Spiritual Disciplines: Meditation

Spiritual Disciplines  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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An overview of Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.

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What The World Needs Now

Deep- Extending far from some surface or area.
What does it mean to be a deep person?
“I go through life as a transient on his way to eternity, made in the image of God but with that image debased, needing to be taught how to meditate, to worship, to think.” -Donald Coggan
What are Spiritual Disciplines?
They are actions that are central to experiential Christianity. They call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They are not only for those who are “spiritually mature”, but can be practiced by all.
Psalm 42:1–2 NKJV
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
It must be something desired...
Just going through the motions of spiritual disciplines mean nothing if our hearts are not involved.
Spiritual disciplines should not be turned into laws! They should be used as a way to experience God on a deeper level.
If we change the inner person it will reflect outwardly. Leading to lives more closely mirrored to that of Christ in addition to showing the world how to experience Godly peace.

The Discipline of Meditation

“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace.” -Thomas Merton
The Adversary majors in three things:
Noise
Hurry
Crowds
We must be willing to go into silence, slow down, and have some alone time with God.

Biblical Witness

In the Bible there are two different Hebrew words that convey the idea of meditation. They are used 48 times. Their meanings are:
Listening to God’s word.
Reflecting on God’s works.
Rehearsing God’s deeds
Rumination on God’s law
and more
“Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation.”
Psalm 119:97 NKJV
97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:101 NKJV
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.
Genesis 24:63 NKJV
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming.
ps 1
Psalm 1:2 NKJV
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
If you know how to listen to God you can help others learn how.
1 sam 3 1-
1 Samuel 3:1–5 NKJV
1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. 2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, 3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, 4 that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” 5 So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.
1 Samuel 3:7–12 NKJV
7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.) 8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.
-
Jesus being 100% God and 100% man needed meditation time...
Matthew 14:13 NKJV
13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

What is Christian Meditation?

“Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.”
God desires to be in close relation with His creation. From the relationship with Adam and Eve in the garden, to Cain, Abel, Noah, and Abraham. God continues to reach out to a fallen people to be close to us.
Exodus 33:11 NKJV
11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
When we take the time to listen to God and obey his command, our actions will reflect the will of God. Jesus gives us an example while he is on this earth.
John 5:19 NKJV
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:30 NKJV
30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
jn
John 14:10 NKJV
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
Both Peter and Stephen point to Jesus as fulfillment of this prophecy.
Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,
Acts 3:22 NKJV
22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.
Acts 1:1 NKJV
1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Acts 7:37 NKJV
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’
We see that God sent Jesus to fulfill prophecy. We must hear and obey his voice.

The Purpose of Meditation

Do you want to be a friend of Jesus?
“In meditation we are growing into what Thomas a Kempis calls “a familiar friendship with Jesus.””
When we meditate it “allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart.”.
Revelation 3:20 NKJV
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This was written to believers not unbelievers.
This inward fellowship with Christ in your heart is transformative. It is impossible to remain the same person when Christ takes up residence in your heart. This relationship inwardly will cause you to desire and aspire to be in His way. It will cause us to be more spiritual people!
Romans 14:17 NKJV
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Understandable Misconceptions

pic of rafiki from lion king meditating
Eastern Religious Meditation Vs Christian Meditation
Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind.
Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind.
In Eastern forms of meditation there is an emphasis upon losing personhood and individuality and merging with the Cosmic Mind. A longing to be freed from the burdens and pains of this life. There is no God to be attached to or to hear from. Detachment is the final goal of Eastern religion.
In Christian meditation detachment is needed. But it is dangerous to only detach from this world.
Luke 11:24–26 NKJV
24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
“Detachment is not enough; we must go on to attachment.” God must be in the picture (our lives).
Another misconception: Meditation is too difficult, too complicated.
Misconception: Meditation is useless and leads us to be distant from the world.
“True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.” -William Penn

Desiring the Living Voice of God

1 Samuel 8:7 NKJV
7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
1 sam
What happened here?
What happened here? God’s people had rejected a theocracy in exchange for a monarchy and wanted an earthly ruler. Someone to speak on their behalf for them to God. This culture still exists and is a preference for many today. Many people want a mediator over meditation.
Meditation is a desire to have a one on one relationship with God. A desire to hear the voice of God.
A desire to meditate must begin first with prayer.

Preparing to Meditate

“We learn to meditate by meditating”
Time?
It is good to make time for meditation, but do not get swept up in thinking that it must be a set time daily. We must grow towards being able to have meditation to happen in the business of our daily lives.
Place?
Find a quiet place. No phones, distractions, or people who distract. It is best to have one designated place.
Posture?
How you sit, stand, lie down all matters. Choose a posture that doesn’t put you to sleep or break your focus.

Forms of Meditation

Meditation of Scripture
“The study of Scripture centers on exegesis (bringing out the meaning of the original text), the meditation of Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage.”
“…just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“When Bonhoeffer founded the seminary at Finkenwalde, a one-half hour silent meditation upon Scripture was practiced by everyone.
Do not rush over passages!
“…take a single event, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you.”
Smell the sea. Hear the lap of water along the shore.
See the crowd. Feel the sun on your head and the hunger in your stomach.
Hear the lapo
Touch the hem of his garment
“Always remember that we enter the story not as passive observers, but as active participants.
“with your imagination anointed with holy oil, you again open your New Testament. At one time, you are the publican: at another time, you are the prodigal…at another time, you are Mary Magdalene: at another time, Peter in the porch…Till your whole New Testament is all over autobiographic of you.”
Re-Collection
It is a time to become still to enter into the recreating silence, to allow the fragmentation of our minds to become centered.
Here is a brief exercise: Palms down, Palms up
Palms down
Begin by placing your palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God.
Inwardly you may pray, “Lord, I give to you my anger toward release my fear of my dentist appointment this morning. I surrender my anxiety over not having enough money to pay the bills this month. I release my frustration over trying to find a baby-sitter for tonight.”
Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you just say “palms down.” RELEASE IT!
After several moments of surrender, turn your palms up as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.
Palms Up
Place your palms up and perhaps pray, “Lord, I would like to receive your divine love for John, your peace about the dentist appointment, your patience, your joy.”
Whatever you need, you say, “palms up.” Having centered down, spend the remaining moments in complete silence.
Do not ask for anything.
Allow the Lord to commune with you, to love you. If impressions or directions come, fine; if not, fine.
Meditation Upon The Creation
This is NOT pantheism. This is monotheism in which the creator of the universe shows us something of his glory through His creation.
In pantheism, God does not have an existence distinct from that of the universe.
-
Psalm 19:1 NKJV
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
“…Begin with that first form of contemplation which the old mystics sometimes called ‘the discovery of God in his creatures.’” - Evelyn Underhill
Give attention to the created order
Look a the trees, really look at them.
Take a flower and allow its beauty and symmetry to sink deep into your mind and heart.
Listen to the birds.
Meditation Upon The Events of Our Time
“Thomas Merton writes that the person “…who has meditated on the Passion of Christ but has not meditated on the extermination camps of Dachau and Auschwitz has not yet fully entered into the experience of Christianity in our time.”
This form of meditation is best accomplished with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other!
Do not be controlled by political cliches.
We would do well to hold the events of our time before God and ask for prophetic insight to discern where these things lead.
We should ask for guidance for anything we personally should be doing to be salt and light in our decaying and dark world.

Conclusion

In pantheism, God does not have an existence distinct from that of the universe.

Do not be discouraged if at first your meditations have very little meaning to you. You cannot climb Mt. Everest in a day! Meditation is never complete, it is a way of life. You will be constantly learning and growing as you plumb the inner depths.
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