Thinking Time

Philippians 4: 8         TPT

Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

I should have sent this verse long ago in light of the challenging year we have had. This verse is a key not only to enduring challenging times but to rising above them. I chose the The Passion translation because it tells us to keep our thoughts continually fixed on that which is honorable, pure, respectable, kind, etc. That is an important element. It is so easy to let our thoughts, and our words for that matter, slip into the negative, detrimental, unkind, critical, facetious, etc. We really must set a guard over our lips and focus our attention on speaking and thinking those things which edify and encourage.

The NASB uses the word lovely, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable . . ..” These words create a high standard. God doesn’t want our thoughts wallowing around in the gutter of negativity, conflict, and destruction. It isn’t healthy for us and those thoughts, and subsequent words, are harmful to society. We are supposed to keep our thoughts to those things “that are excellent and worthy of praise.” If a thing is not worthy of praise, it should not be taking up time and space in our minds and spirits. It is like introducing a cancer into your spirit. You don’t want that.

You know, when we were kids, we were told that if we couldn’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. I think the adults got that from this verse. If it isn’t praiseworthy, don’t say it and definitely don’t fix your thoughts on it.

We have been through a crazy year, a year unlike anything we have experienced before. It has been such a challenge at every level of existence. It is time, now, for us to pick up the pieces and restore nations and communities. We descended down into pits and wallowed far too much into muck but now we have fought our way out of the pit and back onto level ground. Do not allow ongoing challenge throw you back to the ground. Lift your eyes to heaven and let your thoughts, words and actions glorify God.

If it wouldn’t annoy you, I would write this Word of the Day in all caps to emphasize how important this is. I know how challenged your heart and spirit have been. I know how you’ve wanted to lash out at someone for all the indignation you feel you have suffered. We have all been frustrated and angry. That’s on us. However, we have a God who is love and kindness. Therefore, to fuel our recovery we must meditate on thoughts which are congruent with His character. We must stop tearing each other down, pointing fingers and complaining. We really must devote ourselves to prayers for others, kindness and charity. Let us heal and coalesce. Do not let your heart continue in dark thoughts or anger. Let your thoughts be of light and love. Consider the needs and concerns of others and make those a priority, even over your needs and wants. I know that sounds crazy but that is what the Bible tells us to do (Philippians 2: 3). And may the light and life of Jesus keep you.

Ponder Your Treasure

Luke 2: 15 – 20

When the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem, then, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen Him, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it were amazed about the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

One of the things I love about the shepherds is that they did something when they heard the good word of the Lord. I think that sometimes when we hear the voice of the Lord, it requires something of us. These shepherds dropped everything and sought the Lord. The Bible encourages us time and time again to “seek the Lord.” Well, they did, and just as we are promised if we shall seek him, they found him.

The best part of this passage to me is in hearing about Mary. It must have been quite a task being the mother of the Christ. Wow! It is hard even to comprehend. This passage gives us a sneak peak in how she accomplished her charge. In the beginning, she treasured all that God revealed about Jesus. She treasured these bits of wisdom and pondered them continually.

Have you ever wondered what became of Joseph, Mary’s husband? Perhaps he didn’t treasure and ponder the revelations and prophecies about the babe. He too had an angelic visit, his in a dream, where the angel told him of the forthcoming birth. Did he treasure the words of the angel and ponder them in his heart? We don’t know because he just disappears from the scene. Mary never forgot the prophecies about the child. She kept them close all her days.

There is a lesson in here for us too. We are to treasure Jesus’ words and continually ponder them in our hearts. They are to stay before our eyes and in the midst of our thoughts. They are life and light. Think of that when you see all those pretty lights on the Christmas tree. They are little representatives of the Word of God lighting up your life.


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.


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.