Flourish 2/7: Meditating on Scripture
Bijgewerkt: mei 1
The words of the Bible hold an incredible transformative power. But most of us don't have a daily practice of reading the Bible in such a way that it actually changes us. In this message I'm going to say a bit more about how we can adopt a habit of meditating on Scripture.
Before I get started, let me help you to put down your red flags that go up when you read the word 'meditation'. The popularized version of meditation in our day is Bhuddistic meditation, emphasizing emptying the mind, coming loose from your feelings and desires and disengaging from this world.
That’s not what we’re going to talk about. Firstly, meditation is actually a Bible word!
Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
So, let’s take the practice of meditation back for the Kingdom, right?
Christian meditation is not about emptying the mind. It’s actually about filling the mind with the Word and the thoughts of God.
Secondly, it’s not about losing yourself and your personality, but actually about getting more in touch with what is going on inside of you, and let God speak into that. It’s about becoming a more whole you – the way God intended you.
Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, says that Christian meditation is: “the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His Word.”
Power to transform
I think that, all too often, we may be reading the Bible for information, instead of transformation. We read because we feel like we’re supposed to.
We may be reading for knowledge about God. But how much are we actually letting the words that we read transform the deepest parts of our lives?
Don’t just read the Bible. Let the Bible read you!
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
If the word of God holds this much power, then I don’t want my engagement with Scripture to be blunt, dry or stale! I want my engagement with Scripture to be alive, liberating, transforming and even painful at times – as long as it touches me deeply in my heart.
Do you share this desire with me?
I think that the key to experiencing this in our engagement with Scripture, is inviting the Holy Spirit into our reading. Because He will be doing three essential things:
1) Illumination. Through the work of the Spirit, we can understand what we are reading. He lights up our reading and guides our understanding.
2) Application. We don’t just want to read and understand. We want to do something with it! The Spirit helps us to understand how we can live out what we are learning.
3) Transformation. Through the illumination and application, the Spirit begins a work of transformation in us to become a renewed person; the best version of ourselves.
Scripture Reading Practices
Now, the problem is, many of us don’t have the spiritual practices to give space for the Spirit to be doing this work in us. If you just read a chapter, close your Bible and that’s it – the transforming effect will be limited.
If your only engagement with Scripture is a quick glance at the verse of the day in your Bible app – it’s not going to transform you any more than a Facebook meme or a nice quote on a postcard.
I've recorded a few videos that you can find on our YouTube channel and Facebook page, where I’ll guide you through three different practices of engaging with Scripture in a way that it can really begin to transform you.
Video 1: Lectio Divina, a contemplative hearing of Scripture engaging our imagination, understanding and feelings
These are three different ways of meditating on Scripture. There are a lot more options out there! Find something that works for you. My encouragement to you is to find a way that fits you, where you have a daily engagement with the Word of God that truly fulfils you and transforms you.
House built on the rock
Let me close off with a really short parable of Jesus. He gives this at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount, covering Matthew 5-7. This is some of the most exciting and challenging teaching of Jesus – a great place to start with a more engaging way of reading Scripture.
Jesus ends this time of teaching with a short but powerful parable.
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
This is so powerful. It is not just about hearing or reading the words, it is all about applying and living the words! That’s the power and the potential of this incredible book.