Written by: Joanne Beckley
I was surprised by a request for the following subject to be taught. At the same time, it was wonderfully encouraging to realize my sisters here in Africa were ready to dig deeper into the Word of God and learn the value of this subject. If you, in reading this, think of additional thoughts and guidelines, please comment.
To think right is to live right. Good thoughts and actions do not produce bad results. Bad thoughts and actions do not produce good results. One of the laws of life is that we become what we think. The more we think about something, the more it becomes a part of our life, whether it is good thoughts or bad thoughts. A single thought will neither ruin nor make a life, but a habit of thought will. We CAN control our thoughts. Like the people living in a captured city, our thoughts can be brought into captivity (control) and made to think on things that are pure and holy. We CAN keep evil thoughts from becoming a habit if we want to!
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
1. WHAT IS MEDITATION? Definition – to think, muse, reflect, contemplate, ponder, then to intend, plan. 1 Timothy 4:15 gives us the idea that mediation requires taking great pains with and being absorbed in something: Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all (1 Timothy 4:15).
2. What meditation is not –
a. It is not to pause and allow the Holy Spirit to “come into your heart” as a private message. Many religious people claim this happens, but the Scriptures do not support their claims. Instead, what they “hear” are only creative minds that has fooled themselves. This belief is part of the Calvinist doctrine that states only through God’s personal efforts can a person “hear” God and be saved. This is a false teaching.
b. It is not day-dreaming where we just allow our minds to wander without controlling our thoughts.
3. The proper kind of meditation is based on the wisdom from God and not from ourselves. King David often wrote about meditation and he states very clearly that he used the Scriptures to think and plan.
A. Why use the Scriptures? Because we value God’s Word.
i. Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
ii. Psalm 119:97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
iii. Psalm 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.
iv. Psalm 119:15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
B. Why use the Scriptures? God said: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 59:9).
4. Meditation requires thinking. No matter what we do all day long, we must take time to think! Why? Because no woman or man will be higher than the thoughts they think. Do we want to be more like Christ? If so, then our thoughts must rise to the level of Christ!
a. Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
b. 2Corinthians 4:16,18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
5. WHY SHOULD WE MEDITATE? Meditation is not just something we do without a plan. There has to be a REASON why we meditate.
a. We must meditate because God judges not only our actions but our thoughts. Genesis 6:5-7 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."
b. Meditation is a TOOL to aid our thoughts which prompt our actions.
c. Meditation can become a very valuable activity to control our thoughts and actions.
6. THE VALUE OF MEDITATION
a. Meditation helps us to “keep our heart”
i. Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
ii. Hebrew word natsar (naw-tsar') – to guard, to protect, to maintain. What we think and believe will control how we live. What we think and believe will guard and guide our footsteps.
iii. Isaiah 65:2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts.
b. Meditation sharpens our minds and understanding. Taking time to meditate gives us a chance to evaluate who we are and where we are going.
i. Proverbs 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.
ii. We can view sickness as a blessing for it forces us to lie still and think (3 John 2).
c. Meditation helps us to keep true values.
i. We spend our thoughts, time, and effort on what we value. If we value Jesus and His words, we will strengthen ourselves by meditating on His values.
ii. Read Matthew 27:6-10 and notice what value the priests gave for the blood of Christ. What action did that value prompt?
d. Meditation teaches us to control our thoughts and guard against rash actions.
i. David stopped to do some serious thinking when he wrote: "I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me." 2 I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. 3 My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue: 4 "LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am (Psalm 39:1-4).
ii. God recognizes that our thoughts control our words. Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, But the words of the pure are pleasant.
e. Meditation prepares us to repent of sin. When we take time to use God’s Word to evaluate good and evil in our lives., we will be moved to repent of any sin, for a person cannot be strong trying to live in two directions. But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls (Luke 11:17).
i. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
ii. May our prayer be as David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23).
f. Meditation aids in our spiritual warfare against Satan and his devises.
i. 2Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
ii. Ephesians 6:16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
iii. Even when we awake in the night with fearful thoughts, we can fight evil by meditating on God’s word. Job described his fear: “In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, 14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake” (Job 4:13).
g. Meditation helps us to act right, and in return, our righteous actions will strengthen our thoughts.
i. Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.
h. Meditation helps to accept ourselves, our circumstances and others.
i. Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
ii. Meditation helps us to live within God’s love through obedience to him (1 John 5:3). This, in turn, develops love (respect) for ourselves and others.
iii. Meditation helps us learn to be content. Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
i. Meditation gives us release from a too-busy life.
i. By taking time to consider how we spend our time, we can bring balance into our lives through the word of God.
ii. 2Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
j. Meditation prompts us to pray without ceasing. We can only conclude that we need God desperately and that He is the source of our peace of mind that passes all understanding (1 Thess.5:17; Phil.4:7)
7. Meditation is necessary to fulfill the command to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18).This is not a miraculous filling, but rather as the apostle Paul told the young preacher: Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
8. WHAT ARE WE TO MEDITATE ABOUT?
Go back to 1 Timothy 4:13. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Did you notice that reaching out to others also needs meditation? In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul advises Christians to meditate on these things:
whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and
if there is anything praiseworthy
meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me,
these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
9. HOW DO WE MEDITATE?
a. We need a quiet place, a Bible, paper and pen, and a diary.
b. Meditation requires a goal. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish? A desire to build your faith and make it work does not give you a working plan. Your desire to grow must be divided into more manageable pieces. For example:
i. What do you want to accomplish spiritually ten years from now? Five years from now? One year from now? Each year builds on the next. What we do (or don’t do) will affect how we grow the next year.
ii. Once you decide what measurement of spiritual growth you want to accomplish in one year, you can make a workable plan for today and tomorrow in your meditation on God’s word.
c. There are three general categories that are necessary to meditate. Each one requires the other two to accomplish the whole. Consider a triangle within a circle.
d. In order to read and study the Bible, you need to plan what to read and ask God’s guidance in understanding what you read. When you pray, you must know God and what he wants you to pray for. Praying requires careful thought about what you are going to say. Thinking and planning are useless unless you know what God wants from you. You learn this by reading and studying your Bible and then praying that your plan is pleasing to God
e. Meditation includes memorizing Scripture.
i. When we memorize Scriptures, we have to “pull apart” the verse to get understanding. This requires thinking before we memorize so that we can use the verse wisely.
ii. Psalm 119:148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
iii. How can we meditate when we find ourselves in need of God’s words and do not have a Bible in hand? Obviously, we must memorize Scripture beforehand! Memorizing verses from the Bible is not difficult, but it takes time and effort.
f. Singing spiritual songs can help us to meditate. We have to think about the words we are singing. These songs cause us to stop and think about God and His things. This is good. It strengthens our faith. But these songs are written by men. We must make sure the words are in agreement with the word of God. We must make sure the words carry important thoughts that cause us to be edified.
g. Making a plan of action
i. Once we learn any truth from God’s Word, we now have to spend time considering how to make it a part of our lives. Knowing something is not enough. We must think, plan and act upon it in order to please God.
ii. For example, the Bible teaches us God is truth and that telling lies is an abomination to Him. Suppose we have trouble lying. What can we do about it?
(1) Ask for God’s help in searching for truth concerning lying.
(2) Ask questions and then seek the answers: What is a lie? Are all lies bad? What if I only tell one lie? Can God forgive me?
(3) Look up all the places in the Bible where it talks about lying.
(4) Sit and seriously think about the consequences of lying. Consider what prompts us to lie and think of ways to avoid those situations.
(5) Make a decision to stop lying.
(6) Pray for forgiveness and ask for help in recognizing when we fail and lie again.
(7) Memorize verses that condemn lying
(8) Keep refining our plan of action.