Ruminations

Lamentations 3: 22 – 23       NRSV

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I have a new journal, a gift from a friend. This morning I turned to the page with this verse and found myself pondering it. As I turned it over in my mind, I wondered if this might provide a good opportunity to show you what meditation can look like. Now I know some of you are old hands at meditating on scripture but bear with the rest of us for today.

Meditating on scriptures is where I receive a lot of revelation. Many Words of the Day come out of this process. In fact, tomorrow I will share with you what came out of my meditation on this scripture. Pondering scripture is where I connect with God and He shows me a deeper view of a scripture or a different aspect of it.

Reading this scripture, you might stop on the word “steadfast”. What does that word mean? What does it mean to you? What synonym could you replace it with. I didn’t stop there, but maybe someday I will. I was arrested by “never ceases.” I began to replace “never ceases” with other words: eternal, abundant, they overflow, unending . . . you get the idea. As I thought about those words an idea began to form about this bottomless well, the cup of coffee that has no bottom.

You might want to stop and think about “His mercies.” What is the author talking about here? What are God’s never ending mercies? Compassion is one of the synonyms you will find in other versions. What word or words would you use?

This never ending, renewable resource had me fascinated this morning. His mercies are inexhaustible. None the less, He gives us a fresh supply every morning. I guess, like the manna in the desert, God does not want us living on day old bread. He gives us a fresh, new stock of His compassion every morning.

All I did with this scripture, was to play the synonym game. That yielded a fuller understanding and developed into ideas and a visual image, which is what I will share tomorrow. There is nothing special about what I did. I just let the Holy Spirit lead my mind and spirit on a journey. It is quite fun, actually. Give it a try on this scripture. I would love for you to send me your impressions. Remember, there is no right or wrong. We all see from slightly different vantage points and that is a good thing.

Night Watches

Psalm 63: 5

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.

I thought I would share the secret of David’s success for those who wish to know it. It’s two-fold. First, David remembered the Lord. That’s a very good start. He thought about the Lord. He remembered that the Lord, our God, was his constant companion and his strong right arm. So, at night, when he had bedded down the sheep, he remembered God.

Part two – when David remembered God, he then meditated on Him. What does that mean? He didn’t just have a fleeting thought about God and move on. He remembered Yahweh and when he did, he stopped and contemplated who God is and what roles God played in his life. That was likely when David also pondered the promises God had previously made to him personally and through the Word. It was likely the time when he would consider his future and what God wanted to do with him.

Those quiet night watches made David a king. God chose him, and even had Samuel anoint him with oil as the future king. Then David went back to tending sheep. How lonely that must have felt. Here you have this huge calling on your life and the anointing to boot but you are on the backside of nowhere tending a small, seemingly inconsequential flock. Sound familiar? Well, don’t worry. The promotion is in those quiet times of just you and Yahweh. It is in those times that no one sees.

I would be willing to bet that many of you who receive this Word of the Day, are being called into a deeper prayer life this year. Furthermore, I bet God isn’t asking you for a typical prayer life as much as He is asking you to spend quiet, contemplative time with Him. Is this you? Write me and let me know. I will add your prayer time to the prayer list and encourage you too.

Pondering

Psalm 77: 6

I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, and my spirit ponders.

I really like this scripture. It has a nice feeling to it, but it also shares some key insights to meditation. For example, did you notice that the author meditates with his heart? Well, that’s not very western of him. Oh yeah, he wasn’t western. Our faith originates in the east. No wonder some of these ideas perplex us.

The author goes on to say that his spirit ponders. Okay. Let’s pick up our meditation series right there. First, though, remember that we have quieted down physically, emotionally and mentally. Breathe deep, slow breaths, maybe put on nature sounds or atonal, soothing music, turn off the phone, light an aromatic candle or wax burner. In other words, make your physical surrounding one of relaxation.

Then as we engage stillness in our bodies and internally, we turn our minds and attention to the Father. Perhaps you imagined Him sitting with you at your kitchen table or in lawn chairs on your patio. This is all to connect you with the Father in your heart. We can use this time to let our minds rest and instead interact with Father with our spirits. You know how to do this. Remember when you fell in love and you didn’t have to say anything to each other. Your hearts felt like they just matched beats. Or, remember how you connected with your new baby who couldn’t yet speak? Connecting with God is really very much the same. You reach out with your heart rather than your mind and make the connection there. Then, you can certainly use your mind as a tool of your heart to communicate but make the connection with the Father in your heart rather than in your mind.

Now comes the fun part. We get to ponder. Here are some synonyms of meditate: contemplate, think about, consider, ponder, cogitate, muse. I just really like ponder. People get all weird about meditating, though we all do it all the time, but when we think about pondering something, it all becomes normal again. Yea! So, here we go. I am going to show you one of my favorite ways to meditate. Let’s ponder Psalm 46:10.

I have shared with you three translations. The NLT reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” God’s Word Translation reads, “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.” And the Passion Translation has, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.” They are all the same verse but don’t look the same, at least at first blush. So, here is what I do, and, by the way, this is where lots of Words of the Day come from. I just begin to ask questions about the differences. I ponder the differences. Why did the editors choose one word over another? What are some other words which mean the same thing? What is the difference in each translation? Are they communicating the same thing but from different vantage points? What ties them together? What was the author experiencing at the time of writing? Do the verses before and after give me insight into the meaning? Then, the most important question of all, if I slow down for a moment and think about this verse, what does it mean to me? How can this wisdom fit into my life?

And that’s it. You’ve just meditated. Of course, that is only one way. I like to meditate over verses by looking at different translations. You may enjoy pondering a Bible story. Picture Jesus on the day he and his apostles fed the five thousand. What did that look like? What did Jesus do? What did his disciples do? As you observe and ask questions, you will discover the Holy Spirit providing insights and answers. It’s really a whole lot of fun. You might even put yourself in the scene. What would you be doing? Are you distributing food, taking up the leftovers or are you just sitting by Jesus watching and listening to him?

Do a little mental meandering. Ponder a scripture, a story or a scene. I would love hearing about your experiences, so share them either by replying to this devotion or post it on our site.

Breathe, Meditate (Part 2)

Psalm 46: 10             TPT

Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.

Let’s continue our look at meditation today. I hope you have concluded that meditation is a vital part of the Christian walk. If you have not, then you might want to conduct a search on the word meditate. Secondly, I hope you have decided to make it part of your walk with Christ.

The first step in effective meditation comes from Psalm 46: 10. The NLT reads, “Be still, and know that I am God!” In order to know God, we must first find stillness in our being. For me that took two forms. First, I had to learn to relax my body. Ultimately that ended up being the easiest. However, Pat Richards from Impact Ministry brought up a good point yesterday. Although I was talking about a virtual cup of coffee in yesterday’s Word of the Day, she pointed out that drinking coffee before trying to meditate or during can sabotage your success because of the caffeine.

The second was learning how to get my mind to be still. This was a great deal more challenging for me. One of the techniques I learned from Dr. Jim Richards was to take all those ideas that were bombarding my mind and tie a balloon to them and release them. The first time I tried that it caused me increased stress because I didn’t want to lose those thoughts. So, I imagined God above me raking in each balloon I released. That worked for me. I also put a note pad and pen beside me when I was learning to quiet my mind. All those “to do’s” and ideas that came to me got written down on that pad so that my mind could relax.

We’ve talked about this stillness in relationship to worry this week. The God’s Word translation told us to let go of our concerns. Okay, what does that have to do with being still so we can know Yahweh as God? If you are worried and agitated, then your inner person is anything but still. You need to release those concerns to the Father so that your heart can be calm. You can receive God’s peace when you feel He has all your concerns in hand. Look at today’s version of this same scripture. It too is coaxing us into releasing all of our worries and concerns so that we can be silent and still and watch God show His divinity in our lives.

We spoke about breath this week too. I find that slow, deep breaths help both my physiology and my psychology. If you count as you breathe, maybe inhaling to a count of five and doing the same as you exhale, you will likely find that your body and your mind ease. Also, think thoughts like, “With every exhalation, I relax a bit more.” You can even breathe, exhale, relax your legs; breathe, exhale, relax your arms; and so on. Don’t forget to relax your face. You would be surprised how much tension you may hold in your face.

We are learning how to relax so we can learn to meditate but releasing the tension from your body and from your mind will improve your health and your mood too. God knew what He was doing when He told us to meditate. He was instructing us for our good.

Walk through these relaxation steps today. Find out how many breaths it takes you to calm yourself down on the inside and the outside. Within a short time, you will reduce that number significantly. After you have calmed yourself down, endeavor to hold onto that peace and have a good relaxed day, all day.

Breathe, Meditate

Joshua 1: 8

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 success.

This is one of those “stand out” verses in the Bible. Some Christian circles use it a lot while others don’t teach it quite as much. Even fewer teach what it means to meditate or how to do it. I am going to use it today as a practicum.

This week I have sent you two emails that encourage quiet, contemplative time with God. In other words, meditation. God told Joshua that this was the key to success. The problem is, most of us were not taught how to meditate. As for slowing ourselves down so that we can hear God’s voice, well, that’s just not a strength either, though that is what Psalm 46: 10, our verse from yesterday, directs us to do.

The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, so I find the easiest way for me to relax and quiet my inner self is to take a couple of slow, deep breaths. When you breathe deeply and slowly, you signal your body that you are safe. It does not have to keep itself primed for fight or flight. This is a super powerful tool! Breathe. Anytime you feel anxious, angry, worried or any other energy emotion, just breathe deeply and slowly. Focus on exhaling out every last bit of air in your lungs. This is actually healthy for your lungs too because many of us breathe in the middle volume of our lungs which means we never empty it of the stale, used up air. If you, at the same time, imagine yourself meeting the Father in a safe place of your own choice you will likely feel yourself connecting with Him.

Picture a place you like. For some people it is their own kitchen table with cups of coffee steaming nearby. Others like to walk on the beach, sit in the woods or wade in a creek. Better still, sit by a creek, in the woods, in the mountains with a cup of coffee and your Father. Now that sounds heavenly to me. Wherever you choose, make it a place of supreme safety and comfort. When you meet your Father in that place you will notice that many of the barriers which block good communication are automatically lowered. Don’t go to His throne room where He looms gloriously in His majesty because you may find it hard to approach Him. Go there when you want to see His glory and worship Him. Instead, sit down in your own living room with Him.

Now, here is another secret. Once you are connected with the Father, you don’t actually have to speak with Him. You can actually think of other things, do other things. See, the big objective is to live with Him day and night. Well, you certainly wouldn’t talk non-stop with a person you were with all of the time. Healthy relationships do not depend on non-stop chatter. Sometimes it is nice to just be with Yahweh in the quiet of your mind and soul. Having said that, still we need those very still, quiet times. Then they swell into the ever present “now” with the Father.

So for today we have learned two things to help us in our meditation or restated, our quiet time with the Lord. First, breathe. Second, visualize yourself in a tranquil, peaceful place with your Father at your side.

Tomorrow, we will explore a bit further into this idea of reflective time with the Lord.

Daydreaming

Psalm 27: 4

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

Many years ago, I heard Joyce Meyer say this was her favorite scripture. I was surprised by that statement. Of all the great verses in the Bible, verses filled with promise and victory, why was she so fond of this one? Years later, I get it.

It will not surprise you that this is a psalm of David. David had a different relationship with the Trinity than others we find in the Old Testament, especially. He had a New Testament relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. He seems to be one of the few that had any knowledge, especially a working knowledge, of the Holy Spirit at all. His relationship goes further, though. He trusted God. He had a love relationship with Him.

Here we experience David saying that nothing is better and that he seeks nothing greater than staring at the beauty of the Lord. The longing of David’s heart was simply to hang out with God. What do you suppose David would meditate on? Perhaps his thoughts turned around the beauty, majesty and splendor of the Lord such that he just wanted to sit in the temple and meditate on the Lord’s glory all day.

This is the one thing he asked of the Lord. We all have that one thing which is not a numerical value as much as it is a priority number. What is the most precious thing to you? What is it that you want from God above all things? Is it to stare at His beauty? Probably not. Most of us think differently than David. Most who read this are westerners in thought and philosophy. We have to produce something daily. We can’t just sit around and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. We say, “Lord, what do you want to DO today?” That is, if we bother to ask at all because we are in a hurry. We are busy, but as I have said before, “Busy is a four-letter word.”

Maybe you can take a few minutes to meditate on God’s gloriousness and grandeur. Maybe you just want to meditate on David’s words to see if you can make any sense of them. It’s kinda deep but I would say this is THE one thing. This is the thing that Jesus would not take away from Mary when Martha wanted her to help with the chores. Being in the presence of the Lord may be the one thing you have been searching for too.

TV Bomb

Joshua 1: 8

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 success.

Joshua was about to take over the leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses. How would you like to follow in those footsteps? Yahweh God went to Joshua. This is the advice the Father gave him. If you were about to take over the leadership of an entire nation of people, the nation of God’s people, wouldn’t you expect the advice God gives will be the most critical piece of advice available. Perspective on the situation Joshua found himself in when God gave him this instruction gives great insight into its importance.

Should we expect God’s guidance to us to be any different? Of all the things God could tell us, this is the one bit of wisdom He chooses for us. Keep this Word in your mouth; meditate on it day and night. Well, one would easily conclude that to keep the Word on our lips constantly, we will have to read it and meditate on it continually. How else will we know enough of it? We have major impediments in modern life, though. Joshua didn’t have television or the internet. He didn’t have a video console or an electronic tablet. He didn’t run his kids to soccer practice or any of the many other distractions we have.

We are busy people, over busy really. Somehow we have to learn to control the chaos so that we do as Mary, Martha’s sister did, put first things first. If we don’t have time for prayer, mediation and time in the Word, then we are too busy. Most of us, I find, have time for TV and few of us miss many meals. If I had a red button that, when pressed, would blow up every television, I bet many of us would find more time for contemplation and our Bibles. There are just too many things demanding our attention and who doesn’t enjoy sitting in front of the TV to relax? Perhaps we could have our time with our beloved and then turn on the TV. I know that I am much more productive if I don’t turn it on. Once on, it is hard to pick up my book and read or to pray.

God gave Joshua the secret to success and prosperity. In truth, He has revealed this key to us as well. What do we have to do in order to find the time necessary to engage this all important principle? Each of us must decide for ourselves but I would suggest we each have that button which will disable the television, at least for a while. Push the button. Go ahead. You will find some time you didn’t have before. Here’s to your success and prosperity.