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The Spiritual Discipline of Meditation

Recorded on March 17th, 2019

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Lent is a season that is set apart. It is a way of staying close to God. We can’t just wake up and remain in God, Remaining takes active participation on our part.

Transcript of Sermon:

[Music] I’m teaching you each week from richard foster’s spirit celebration of discipline everything that besides some of the stuff that we’re going straight from Scripture but everything I’ve learned about what we’re going to be learning is from this I’ve read this about you know ten years ago changed my life if you want a great book on spiritual disciplines I highly recommend this book it’s it’s not too heady it’s one that you could easily read and learn from so richard foster’s spiritual discount scripture is taken from Psalm 63 oh god you are my god I think you my soul thirsts for you my foot flesh thanks for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water so I have looked upon you in the sanctuary beholding your power and glory because your steadfast love is better than life my lips will praise you so I will bless you as long as I live I will lift up my hands and call on your name my soul is satisfied as with a rich feast and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed and meditate on you and the watches of the night for you have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy my soul clings to you your right hand upholds me but those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth they should be given over to the power of the sword they should be pray for jackals but the king shall rejoice in God all who swear by him shall exalt for the math of Liars will be stopped this is the word of God Thank You Jean good morning hard to say good morning but I’m saying again last week we began our Lenten series and I began by teaching you a little bit about what Lent is and I’m just going to review a little bit because we’re gonna be short on time today because we did a lot of celebrating today didn’t we Lent is not something you’re gonna find in Scripture anywhere Lent was something that began in about the 4th century Church as a way of teaching people who were coming into the church just people who were learning to become Christians before they were baptized and B fact in fact in order to become baptized you had to go through a series of teachings that led to Easter Sunday and on Easter Sunday UB could become baptized and then become a full member of the church and that season was the Lenten season and then you could become baptized well when that went away Lent remained and lent became a rhythm of the church a rhythm of setting aside a certain time of the year to mark as a Christian person to mark your rhythm of life with Christ and so I recommended that we do something as a group as a church not necessarily giving something up because Lent isn’t necessarily about removing things from your life although sometimes that can be what God is calling you to in Lent but Lent is really a way of remaining and our scripture for our entire Lent and seizing the one that we’re going to be pulling back to each week is from John 15 where we are told that I am the vine and you are the branches this is Jesus speaking if you remain in me and I in you you will bear much fruit apart from me you can do nothing if you do not remain in me you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers such branches are picked thrown into the fire and burned but if you and remain in me and my words remain in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you and so RIT really lent is a way of remaining in Christ it is a rhythm of life that helps us to remain in Christ it creates an intentionality to our Christian walk with Christ and so I decided that we would learn different ways of remaining in Christ different spiritual disciplines over the next few weeks that would help us to remain the first spiritual discipline that we’re going to learn about is going to be meditation and I chose that one because most of you probably think of meditation as an Eastern spiritual discipline as something that you might not think as something that a Christian should actually do you might think of meditation as something that is probably bad for a Christian to do but it might surprise you that meditation is mentioned over fifty eight times in Scripture the actual word meditation is something that is spoken about as early as the Old Testament in fact you heard it in Psalm 63 it says in Psalm 63 that when I think of you on my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night for you have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy the psalm starts out oh god you are my god I seek you my soul thirsts for you my flesh faints for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water how many of you can honestly say that your first thought in the morning are those thoughts that your thoughts throughout the day are oh god you are my god I seek you my soul thirsts for you my flesh faints literally faints for you the things that I really desire aren’t always of God the things that I wake up thinking about tend to be my to-do list or things that my kids need or my things that the church might need sometimes I’m so far from what my relationship with Christ because of the reality of my everyday things I need to do in life and what meditation really is in the Christian life is ruminating it’s thinking it’s being present with God it’s being present with Scripture Eastern meditation is all about emptying oneself it’s about being completely empty and getting rid of everything that’s inside of you where Christian meditation is all about filling ourselves with God filling ourselves with truth the focus of Christian meditation is on all beedi ins and on faithfulness and this is what distinguishes Christian meditation from what Eastern religions would call meditation they’re very different and they’re very distinct and what they try to accomplish you see an Eastern meditation would want you to completely Zen out to become nothing where the the purpose of Christian meditation is for you and I to change is for you and I to become different because of the change in our relationship that comes from our closeness to God because of our rumination because of the in because of the way that we’re allowing God to enter us through our time with him and meditation you know in Scripture Isaac goes out into the field to meditate on scripture you see Eli and David and Jeremiah going out to on scripture you see Jesus going away by himself to be with God alone so the best definition I can give you of Christian meditation is the ability to hear God’s voice and to hear and to obey his word the ability to hear God’s voice and to obey his word so two distinctly know what God’s voice is and then to be able to obey that voice see there are no hidden mysteries there’s no mental gymnastics that need to be done here there are no steps you don’t need a guru for this you don’t need to practice this and you know for years and years and years to be able to do this you don’t need to be a pastor you don’t need to be a sage you don’t need to be a spiritual magic man to make this happen you simply need to be able to sit down because it’s most comfortable I mean you could stand but that doesn’t that’s not very comfortable for that long and to be quiet you can do it and you can do it Keaton could do it Meili could do it what I’m telling you is that you really have no excuse not to participate in the spiritual discipline of Christian meditation because here’s the truth Genesis shows us that God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve he walked without him and even he had discussions with Adam and Eve God had a relationship with Adam and Eve God had fellowship with Adam and Eve and God wants that same relationship and fellowship with you and I and meditation brings us into relationship and fellowship with God meditation is learning to live in the basis of hearing God’s voice and responding in a to God’s voice obeying – well you get what I’m saying meditation is becoming familiar and friendly with God the inward fellowship with Jesus transforms us on the inside it refines us on the inside that kind of fellowship changes who we are that kind of fellowship is necessary to become the kind of light that we are created to be and without this kind of fellowship we are not the best Christian we are and that’s not good because it’s not about being Christian we are not the creation that God created us to be so I want to give you two examples of what this looks like because telling you what Christian meditation is really does you nothing because you can say okay well great so I want to show you to two ways we’re two ways of doing Christian meditation one is and this all requires quietness so you need to find a place where you can do this one it needs to be quiet so and two don’t bring your phone please I know from experience that if you bring your phone saying you’re gonna read scripture on your phone I promise you you’re gonna get text or you’re gonna get something or gonna it just don’t bring it to tell your spouse or your children that you’re doing this unless it’s two o’clock in the morning and you they’re asleep because they’re gonna find you and they’re gonna bother you so find a space that’s quiet shut yourself off from the world if you can see the outside it’s helpful because God’s creations there so one way to do this is to palms-down say to God God I give you my anxiety about the surgery that I’m going to have today I give you my anxiety about my relationship with my mother I give you my anxiety about that relationship with my friend I give you my anxiety about our finances I give you my anxiety about and you keep going on whatever it is and you just list out all of those things then palms up deep breath you know god I received from you peace about the surgery I’m gonna have today God I received from you peace about red my relationship with my mother god I received from you peace about our finances God I received from you so it’s the two together you list them all out hands down and then you receive God’s blessing on the other side hands up and then when you’re finished you just remain in silence just let God be with you try for two minutes at first and then two minutes is fine and try and do this try and make if you’re working on a spiritual discipline don’t try and add all the spiritual disciplines to your life in the same week or the same month work on one for a while so try and do this everyday for a while and see what God does for you do you get a good idea of what that one looks like that’s one way of what Christian meditation can look like this other way is my favorite it’s ruminating on Scripture it’s letting scripture come into you this is a way that I think that the somebody like David would have done King David although he didn’t have the New Testament but I’m going to show you a piece from the New Testament ruminating on Scripture is a way of letting it live inside your soul I suggest taking one piece of scripture for one month and sitting with it every day and sitting with it in a different way every day so if we take from John 6 I’m going to read to you 6 rounds John 6 16 where jesus walks on water and it says when the evening came his disciples went down to the lake and when they got in the boat and set off across the lake to Capernaum by now it was dark and Jesus not yet join them a strong wind was blowing and the waters got rough when they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus approaching the boat walking on the water and they were frightened but he said to them it is I do not be afraid then they were willing to take him into the boat and immediately the boat reached to the shore where they were heading and it goes on my stop their seeking at the idea read yourself the scripture every day and each day becomes somebody else in that story the first day imagine yourself as one of the cycles imagine what it feels like to be that disciple what does the air feel like what does it feel like to be on the boat in that water what is the water doing be in that scripture be in that story make the scripture real to you and then what is that teaching you what does that feel like make that scripture alive inside your soul and then what does God teach you about that and just sit with it there’s no studying necessary just be in it ruminate on it be with it be with it the next day choose a different perspective choose a different way of looking at the scripture it’s a way of being with God this is a way of being in relationship with God you’re not looking for answers you’re just looking to be with him you’re looking to understand him you’re looking to be in relationship with your best friend with your father your Creator and the thing that you know for certain is that he’s gonna meet you there because he wants to be in relationship with you too he wants to walk with you in the garden he wants to show you speak with you talk to you meditation is not Eastern it’s ours meditation is not emptying ourselves it’s filling ourselves with truth and being changed on the inside because of it let us pray God we thank you for the ability to be in relationship with you we thank you that you want to be in relationship with us us broken broken humans God we ask that you would honor our attempts to draw closer to you that as we try to be quiet that as we try to steal ourselves that you would work in our hearts and our souls and that you would refine us from the inside so that we would know your voice more clearly so that we would know you more certainly and so that we could shine your light more clearly it’s in the name of Jesus Christ your son and our Savior that we pray you