Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 29, 2011

Thought for the Week December 4, 2011

I trust that everyone had a pleasant and safe Thanksgiving and than you got to enjoy all of the culinary delights of the day without adding anything to your waist lines. That is always my dilemma. It seems like I am always waiting for the next big eating holiday to be over so that I can shed a few extra pounds. The problem is that as soon as one is over, another one swoops in to take its place with its special types of delectable fare. Is it “will power” or “won’t power” I need?

This is Segment 4 of our Christian growth journey. I do hope that you are not only reading each week’s thoughts, but that you are finding ways to put each small exercise to work in your lives. Remember, the goal is not just to digest and add to your information files but that you will grow closer to the Lord and those He loves. We want to become more Christ-like by growing in love for God and in love for others. His word is our path into intimate relationship with Him

Let’s do a quick evaluation. Without looking in your Bible, try to name the 27 books of the New Testament in order. Did you get it? If not, where did you get stuck? One memory help (trick) might be to group the books together. Matthew—Acts are history. Next comes 13 epistles (letters) written by Paul, Romans—Philemon. We know to whom the next book was written but are not sure of the writer – Hebrews. Then is James, two books by Peter, three by John, and the last book is Revelation. Does that help? I may share the song I learned in children’s church that helps me.

Now also without looking in your Bible, try to quote Psalm 119:105, the memory verse from the first Segment three weeks ago. How did you do? Need a little extra work? That’s OK. It’s not a contest to see who can memorize more or do it fastest. We’re growing closer to the Lord. Just keep training, doing exercises a little at a time.

Today let’s look at a few suggestions from John Ortberg in The Life You’ve Always Wanted, about meditating on God’s Word. This is an important training exercise because as we think on God’s word, it washes out the thoughts that are corrupted by the world in which we live. The psalmist tells us that the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditates in His law day and night, is blessed. Can you find the Psalm? This is a good one to memorize.

Ortberg gives some simple ideas to help us in this exercise. 1) Ask God to meet you in the Scripture. In other words, ask Him to speak to you and then expect Him to do just that. The Bible records God’s words give to us so why wouldn’t He speak directly to us as we read? Also Ortberg says that “it is uniquely in the Bible that we encounter Jesus,” and what we really want as we read is to come into His presence and hear from Him. So before you begin, acknowledge that Jesus is with you, ask him to wash your thoughts with His thoughts and then expect to have something move you, convict you, encourage you, or lay out a course of action.

2) Read the Bible with a repentant spirit. Ortberg says to be ready to surrender everything, have a vulnerable heart, recognizing that you are reading for transformation not information. He says, in fact, “to be filled with knowledge about the Bible but to be unwashed by it is worse than not knowing it at all.” The key question is not “how much” but “how”. As you read be open to the Spirit of God as He prompts you towards changes that make you into Christ’s image, then take action on whatever He shows you.

3) Meditate on a fairly brief passage or narrative. “The goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures but to get the Scriptures through us.” Try to immerse yourself in a short passage, a few verses. Read slowly as you would a love letter. As certain words stand out to you ask the Lord what He wants to say to you right now. Last week as I read Psalm 130, two verses jumped out at me. If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared. (Ps. 130:3-4) I stopped on these verses, remembering all the charges that could be brought against me and realizing that God doesn’t keep a list. There is no rap sheet where He can bring up my past failings and rebellion. He forgives so that I can walk in reverence and be intimate with Him. These verses had such an impact that I decided to memorize them so I could meditate on them some more. Why not try that?

4) Take one thought or verse with you through the day. This is what memorization is for. In the Bible, meditation is not like eastern religions teach where you empty your mind and make yourself open to almost anything. Bible meditation is filling your mind with God’s Word but it is not fast. The word is like a cow chewing its cud, where it brings already chewed grasses back up and chews them some more. The more we chew the more that comes out. Take a simple verse like Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God,” and for a whole day let these words keep coming back to your mind. Let them hold you when things get a bit out of whack, let them speak to your feelings. Remember that God is with you and He has everything in control.

5) Allow this thought to become part of your memory. Not to belabor the point, but memorization is the best tool for meditation. Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Wow! God’s Word helps us when we need it most. When fear or temptation come up a word memorized months or years ago can come to the surface and help us meet it head on, just like Jesus did.

So this week, as you approach the Bible, in whatever regular fashion is your custom, would you try to put these simple steps into operation? Let me know if this helps by giving me feedback through my email or blog. Let the Word be a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path. Just a thought.

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