Christian meditation

Why You Should Study, Memorize and Meditate on the Bible

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I’m so proud of our Sunday school kids, and the teachers, for taking the time to memorize the Romans Road to Salvation over the past few months. Memorizing of scripture takes time, concentration, and energy – and it is a way to worship God. That time is never wasted and these kids will be amazed at how many times in their life God will keep bringing these verses up in their minds during times of crisis and trouble. When they are in a tough spot, or need encouragement, God will bring these verses to mind because they have stored them where no one can get them – in their hearts.

In doing this they have echoed the praises of Psalm 119:9-16. Let’s turn there and talk for a moment about what happens when we study, memorize and meditate on scripture.

A Pure Path

Psalm 119 BethAn old German version of the Bible has a great title for Psalm 119. It calls it “The Christian’s Golden ABC of the Praise and Love of the Power and Profit of the Word of God.” That’s exactly what Psalm 119 is. The author of the psalm uses the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to create an intricate, acrostic poem in thanks and praise for – and commitment to –the Word of God. Each section has its own theme and takes apart that theme in 8 lines – and each line starts with the same letter. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry about the “vital ministry of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children.” (Warren Wiersbe – Be Exultant)

 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:9-16 ESV)

Notice it starts with a question. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The two key words there are “way” and “pure.” The word “way” can also be translated “path”, “highway”, or even “caravan”. The word “pure” can also be “clean” or “clear” or “blameless”.

How can someone without experience, keep their path clean, their highway clear?

The picture the psalmist is painting for us is a young man setting off on the journey of his life, starting out from his door and looking ahead at the horizon to the endless expanse in front of him. He looks back at his parents, knowing he is now too old to be under their full-time guidance and it is time for him to make his way in the world.

He steps forward, opens the gate, and looks up to God and says, “God, how can I make sure the path I’m walking on is the right one? How can I keep from stumbling? How do I keep from getting lost? How can I keep my life pure so that I can hear your voice and know I’m heading the right way? How can I be confident in the way I’m going? How can I live a life where all the problems come from outside me – not from a bunch of dumb things I bring on myself? Lord, how can a young man keep his way pure?”

And the rest of the section – in fact the whole of Psalm 119 – is an answer to that question. See what his answers are.

Setting up Guardrails

First, as we look at verse 9, he says that he needs to guard his way according to God’s word. In other words, for a person to walk in a straight line, not get lost, and be assured of his destination, he must set up safe-guards on the sides of the road; guardrails all the way along, so that when things start to go wobbly in life, there is something there to bounce off of so one’s life doesn’t careen over the edge.

I’ve driven on some fairly precarious mountain roads, and I’ve been very thankful for the guardrails along the sides. They give me a sense of security that if I blew a tire, or lost control that I wouldn’t go over the cliff, but would bounce off the guard rail. Sure there would be some damage, but it wouldn’t be catastrophic. That’s the first benefit of studying, memorizing and meditating on scripture – it tells us where to set the guardrails in our life.

 

False Freedom

People in this world believe that what really want is “freedom”. They say that in a perfect world there would be no rules and everyone would be able to do whatever they wanted free from oppression and outside influence – and the world would thrive. You’ve probably heard that a lot.

Think of the words to John Lennon’s song “Imagine”. “Imagine there’s no heaven, no hell, no countries, no religion… imagine all the people living life in peace.” That’s the definition of freedom for a lot of people: no God, no government, no rules. But that’s not freedom, that’s anarchy. The human heart is not able to deal with that kind of world – it’s simply impossible. Every nation that has eliminated God didn’t find a time of peace and freedom, but instead saw the rise of oppressive leaders who devastated and oppressed the people. Think Joseph Stalin, Mau Zedong, Pol Pot, or Che Guevera. Their atheism didn’t spawn a life of “peace”, but chaos.

The Broad Road

Jesus would call the kind of “freedom” that Lennon sang about “the broad road”. A life, without walls, without guardrails, without rules. And he says this: “…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)

The “broad road” “leads to destruction”, not life and peace and flourishing. It is the heart that seeks God, which is guarded on both sides by the Word of God that finds life.

Even as I write that I realize how difficult it is to understand, much less apply. To agree with Jesus about choosing the narrow road requires a movement of the Spirit of God. And often, it requires that a person travels the broad road for a while, has their life spin out of control, and then careens of the edge and explodes. That’s the testimony of so many men and women I know.

“I was on the broad road. I was living for myself and I didn’t care what people thought of me. I did what I wanted. And it lead me to sin, and sin more and more, darker and darker, and then I realized what I thought was freedom was actually a trap. I wasn’t controlling my life, it was controlling me. My addictions, my desires, my appetites, my way of life was controlling me. I was captive to my ‘freedom’ and I couldn’t get free. And then things really started to spin out of control. I lost my closest relationships, my friends turned out to be enemies, everything I thought was secure fell apart – and I hit rock bottom. It was only there that I finally looked up and saw Jesus offering me forgiveness and life.”

And their testimony almost always ends the same way: “I’m telling you all of this horrible stuff that I went though because I don’t want you to go through it! Don’t make the mistakes I did. I’m trying to teach my kids not to do what I did. Not to even start down that path. I want them to walk the straight and narrow – to flee the broad road to destruction that I went down.” (Go to “I am Second” for a long list of inspiring testimonies)

In fact, much of the wisdom literature in scripture (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and more scattered throughout the other books) is written to try to warn people away from taking the broad road that leads to destruction. Look at the beginning of the book of Proverbs.

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. … my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.” (Proverbs 1:8-10, 15-16)

Can you hear the pleading of the parents to their son to stay on the straight and narrow? The rest of the book of Proverbs is a series of sayings meant to help an immature person find maturity the easy way – without having to crash and burn to learn it. How many of us wish that we would have learned the lessons from our parents and not had to repeat their mistakes?

The very beginning of the Psalms starts the same way, right from the first verse: talking about choosing the right path to walk on in this life.

“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.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

All through the Bible you can read the voice of the Prophets, and the voice of God, saying “Here’s how life is meant to be lived. Follow these rules and you will have peace, and flourishing, and joy, and righteousness and purity, and know the heart of God! You will avoid much suffering and pain if you just follow this path.” And chapter after chapter is stories of people looking at the narrow path and saying, “I want to go my own way.” And then walking down the broad road – which leads to their destruction.

The prayer of the Psalmist is:

“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:10-11)

The first benefit of studying, memorizing and meditating on scripture is that it gives us the guidelines for how to thrive in this life. Having it in our minds keeps it ready for us. Here is how I’m supposed to deal with anger. Here is how I find the will of God. Here is how I flee temptation. Here is what I say when Satan shows up. Here is how I should pray. Here is the kind of friends to have. Here is how I should spend my time. Here is how I should treat my money.

Learning and Teaching

“Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.” (Psalm 119:12-13)

The second benefit of memorizing scripture is that as we study and learn and remember, the Holy Spirit uses that time to teach us, and then gives us the words to teach others.

When Jesus was about to be crucified His followers were quite worried about losing their teacher and connection to God. But Jesus looks at them and says something very important. Turn to John 16:4-14.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:4-14)

This is what happens when we spend time reading, studying and memorizing scripture. The Holy Spirit of God comes in and teaches us about sin and righteousness. He gives us insight into the ways that Satan works. He expands our minds so that we can tell truth from falsehood. He teaches us how to glorify God and what true worship looks like. And then gives us the words to speak when we are sharing the gospel or in a spiritual battle.

God Breathed Answers

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Some people are afraid to share their faith because they might get questions they don’t have answers to. Others think that there is no real way to know God and they speak as though He is some great mystery. But Scripture, the Bible, has been “breathed out by God” and given to us “for teaching”, so that we can be taught the ways of God, the thoughts of God, the plan of God, the will of God. Between the Bible and Holy Spirit is inside of us, we can have a pretty good idea of who God is. And when we are sharing our faith with others, the Holy Spirit promises to remind us of what God has said about Himself and His plan of salvation.

Some people say they aren’t sure what God thinks about certain things – they can’t really know what is good or bad. Scripture has been given to us “for reproof”, or “for conviction”, or “for rebuking”. That means that within the Bible is everything we need to be able to expose false teachers and expose personal sin. Right and wrong, good and evil, wisdom and foolishness isn’t a grand mystery. Scripture has the power to point out mistakes and clarify how we can make it right.

Some say that they aren’t sure if they can ever know they are truly saved. But the scriptures were given “for correction” which is a word that means it tells us “how to restore ourselves to a right place before God.” In other words – the Bible tells us how to correct this problem of sin and death. It’s only the Bible that gives us the good news of hope in salvation through Jesus.

Some say they don’t know what to do with their life. What should I do? Where should I work? How should I parent? What should I do with an empty nest? What should I buy? The scriptures were given “for training in righteousness” so that we can know how to live a holy life. The Bible is an instruction book for life. I’m convinced that 99% of everything we need to know about how to live in this world is captured within this book – and the Holy Spirit will give us special knowledge about the other 1% when we need it.

That’s why the Psalmist says to God in Psalm 119, “Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!” He knows that the only way he can live well is if God is his instructor.

Delighting in God’s Word

The third benefit of memorizing, studying and meditating on scripture is that it brings delight! Let’s read Psalm 119:14-16:

“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

This is something that a lot of people simply don’t agree with. Using words like “memorizing”, “studying” and “meditating” in the same sentence as “delight” makes no sense to them because it all sounds like work. And it is work.

But once you have experienced the Spirit of God entering into your life in a new way, guiding you in life, protecting your spirit, battling for your purity, teaching you new things about yourself and God, reminding you about the love you have in Jesus Christ – you can start to see how the psalmist feels.

Psalm 119:97-104 says it this way:

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”

I like learning – but there’s something special about my time with God. It’s more than learning – it’s experiencing the presence of God. I understand what the psalmist is talking about! The Word of God comes alive for me when I read it in the mornings. There are times when I’m studying for a sermon and insights that I never had considered start flowing into my mind. I start welling with emotion, getting excited, or sometimes it hits me and I feel a terrible sense of conviction, sadness or anger. Reading, studying and meditating on scripture is an experience for me.

There are times where I walk away from a time with God, and I’m literally breathless because of what I’ve just learned from Him. There are times when God brings to mind a scripture and it protects from doing something harmful, and I am so thankful that he did that for me – because I watch others around me crash and burn because of that same error. There are times that reading the Bible depresses me because I start to feel God’s heart on a particular subject – and He shares His grief with me.

It breaks my heart how distracted most of us are – me included. The cares of the world, finances, fears, entertainment, and so much more, draw us away from the Word of God. We go to so many other things for life, knowledge, peace, joy, hope, help, guidance, and peace. But it all comes up short. Why do we keep going back?

When we lose sight of the word of God, the temptations start to grow, fears start to creep in, unrighteous anger fills our stomach, jealousy and bitterness take root – and a time of meditating on God’s word, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, wipes so much of that away!

Examples of Delight

Consider what the children recited today, and think of the hope, the joy and the wonder that they will have in their hearts for the rest of their lives as the Holy Spirit brings that back to them.

They start to think, “I’m a good person. I don’t need Jesus and all this religion. I don’t need a saviour. I can save myself. God saves everybody because we are basically good and God loves everyone, right?” And the Holy Spirit says,

“Remember Romans 3:23, ‘For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. and Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’’”

Satan comes in and says, “God doesn’t love you because you sinned. You need to earn your salvation! You haven’t done enough to impress God. You need to be better! God’s disappointed in you! You don’t have enough faith. You need to be a better person and clean up your life before you come to God.”

And the Holy Spirit says, “Remember Romans 5:8, ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’”

Satan tells them to keep quiet. “Don’t share your faith. Keep it to yourself. It’s between you and God. Religion is personal. You don’t have to be uncomfortable. Just keep it to yourself.” And the Holy Spirit says,

“Remember Romans 10:10, ‘For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.’”

And then, when they eventually fall into sin, the backslide, and Satan turns up the heat and starts to condemn them. “God hates you now. You’re dirty. God says He loves you and then you turn around and do that? You let him down over and over! He’s done with you. He’s not listening to your prayers anymore. There’s no point in reading your bible. He’s heard you confess that sin so many times that He’s sick of it! Maybe you were saved before, but you just lost it. And you’ll never get it back.”

And, the end of the Romans road comes from Romans 8:1 and 38-39.

The Holy Spirit says, “Remember, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”

That’s where delight comes from. That’s the power of memorizing and studying scripture. I hope you know that delight.

Valuing the Bible

Do you value having a Bible? How much do you value having study guides and thousands of hours of sermons and books to read about the bible? Can you imagine, for a moment, what it would be like if you didn’t have a copy of the Bible? If you knew Jesus, and were saved, loved the one true God, but you couldn’t read about him every day, how different would your life be? What would your life be like if there was no bible in the English language? Would it be different? I hope so.

We are so fortunate. So blessed. Let’s close by watching a short video, but let me set it up first.

True Christianity is “illegal” in China, but it is spreading like a wild-fire there. Some estimates are that there are 20,000 conversions per day. Police will search homes, confiscate CD’s, bibles, song books and calendars, and then arrest people who have “illegal religious gatherings” (The Empty Cross Pg 14) . I read this week that “In China, believers often share one copy of the Bible. Each person receives a page, and when they have memorized it, they get back together to exchange their portion of the Bible.” (Bible Smuggling) What you are about to see is a group of Chinese Christians receiving a bible in their own language for the first time.

Christian Meditation: Stopping & Listening

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Meditation is a multifaceted and religiously loaded term.  There are many Christians today who shy away from practicing  meditation because they aren’t sure that it’s “allowed”.  Let me assure you it is, and it is the key to developing a deep life and focus on God’s priorities for you.

Christian meditation only has two components:  Stopping and Listening.  Other religions have meditation as a religious practice, particularly eastern religions, but for them, meditation is designed to purge all thought, desire and will – it is to empty themselves.  Christian meditation is not an emptying … but a filling of ourselves with God.  In Christian meditation we focus on our obedience and faithfulness to God and the person of Jesus Christ.

First, let’s talk about Stopping.

For some of you that period of silence we just had before I came up was refreshing, for others it was annoying, and maybe even agonizing.  Take a second and think: What was going through your mind?  Godly thoughts?  What was your body doing?  Were you at peace, or were you keyed up?  Some of you are so tired that if there is no sound or activity, you will just fall asleep.  For those of you who are staying awake with me, let me ask you about your feelings about “stopping”.  How do you see stopping?  Is it a sin?  Are stopped people, lazy people?  What emotion does the word “stop” conjure up?

Christian Psychologist Carl Jung said,

“Hurry is not of the devil; it is the devil.”

Why?  Because when we don’t stop, we cannot listen to God, love our neighbour, serve the church, or worship properly.  We must make the time to stop.  It is the first step in meditation.

Hurry Sickness

John Ortburg, in his book “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” talks about  “Hurry Sickness”, and he gives a few symptoms of people who are “hurry sick.”  Let me ask you to identify any of these in your own life, because if you have “hurry sickness”, then you will not stop.  And if you will not stop, you cannot meditate.  And if you cannot meditate, you will not deepen yourself, or hear the voice of God.

The First symptom is “Constantly Speeding up Daily Activities”.  Do you find that everything in your life is a race because you are plagued by the fear that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done?  Do you read fast, talk fast, and keep nodding so the other person will speed up their talking?  Do you find yourself being anxious about which line to stand in at the store, or what lane to be in when driving?  Do you ever find yourself rushing around, even when there’s no need to?  You’re just so used to going at 110% that you can’t stop.  Do you find yourself making up pretend races with your kids or loved ones so that you can get them out of the way at the end of the day?  People do this.  They tell their kids to race through brushing their teeth, and taking a bath, and then race through reading them a book… because they need to get them to bed.  Married couples race through dates and even sex so they can get through it so they can do something else.  Are you always speeding things up?

The Second symptom Hurry Sickness is “Relentless Multi-Tasking”.  Do you find yourself unsatisfied, or even feel guilty, if you are only doing one thing at a time?  Some people do.  They can’t just read.  They have to read with music, and the news on, with the computer on in the background, while sitting next to someone having a conversation.  Some people can’t just sit outside and have a coffee… they have to bring a crossword puzzle, or a grocery list, or something else… because somehow just sitting there with a coffee is somehow a sin.  Some people can’t let the phone ring… they have to answer it.  Do you always have to multi-task?

 Third, “Clutter”.  A hurry sick person cannot fathom simplicity.  They have every time-saving gadget in the world, and ten things strapped to their belt, and in their backpack.  Their closets and bedrooms are stuffed to the brim with things they never use or wear, but will “get to later when they have time.”  Do you lead a cluttered existence?

 Fourth, “Superficiality”.  Richard Foster calls it “the curse of our age.”  Relationships are superficial because time is not given to deepen them.  Marriages break down because the depths of love are not plunged.  Spiritual life is superficial and unsatisfying, so people go to all kinds of sins and idols to fill their spiritual hunger.  So many people live their life on the surface, and have no idea that there is a depth to existence they will never see unless they stop, wait and listen.

The end result of hurry sickness becomes an inability to love.  This is the most serious danger of hurry sickness.  We race and run and live a superficial lives and we become jaded to love, and unable to love.  Why?  Because love and time are indelibly tied.  We cannot hurry and love.  Love takes time.

When we hurry, we lose our sense of gratitude, and our sense of wonder.  Carleton Place, and the Ottawa Valley are truly beautiful, but you won’t really experience its beauty if you whiz by in a plane or a car.  To really appreciate it you have to get out of the car and take a walk, go on one of the bike-paths, or sit in a park.  You’re spouse is wonderful, but you won’t fully experience that sense of wonder or gratitude to God for them unless you stop and truly experience them for a concentrated period of time.

Jesus knew how to stop.

And He did it often.  He had the most important mission in the history of the universe, and yet He took time to stop.

When Jesus heard about the beheading of His cousin John the Baptist he was in the middle of an itinerant preaching journey.  But he stopped.   Matthew 14:13, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”  But the crowds were relentlessly following him.  So Jesus teaches them for a time, miraculously feeds them and then dismisses them.  Now many of us would have went for a nap, or went with our friends somewhere, but Jesus sends His disciples away in a boat, and then stops again.   Verse 23 says, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”  Why didn’t Jesus get swept up in all the things we get swept into?  Because He stopped regularly to listen to God.

Before Jesus chose the disciples He stopped to listen to what God had to say.  Luke 6:12-13, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”   We get the impression from the Gospels that despite Jesus’ popularity, people coming to Him day and night, dealing with family matters, having to train the disciples, teaching, preaching, miracles, traveling, the Pharisees chasing him down, and all the rest, Jesus took time away to be with God.  If Jesus needed to do this… how much more do we?

Second, let’s talk about Listening

Not many people are good at this.  And it is certainly not something that is encouraged in our culture.   Richard Foster says,

“What happens in meditation is that we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary of the heart.”

Think of your inner life like a building that you have been working on for some time.  God started you with some materials to work with, your parents gave you pieces and tools to build more, hardships and life events added to the design, and so did your schooling and friends.  You have this inner house built up that represents every part of you.  But when you ask Jesus to take over your life, what you are doing is asking Him to rebuild your house.

When we stop and listen, what we are doing is giving God the time and focus to rebuild our house.  During our meditation time, God opens doors that we had locked and stuffed full of anger, bitterness, and pain.  He takes our favourite trophies down off of our shelves.  He points out the structural problems and weak designs we have incorporated into our house.  And He starts the process of rebuilding us.  And in our listening we have time to ask Him, “God, does that have to go?”  And we listen to when He says, “Yes.”  And we ask Him, “What parts of me need to be added?  What needs to be torn out?   What should be kept?”  And in our listening time God begins that work.

So often we love to go to others for this advice.  And there is certainly a place for that.  But if we really believe that we live in a universe created by a personal God who loves us and still speaks to this day, then we must listen to Him.

How to Listen to God

There are many ways that we can listen to God, but let me tell you the two most helpful that I’ve found.

First is listening to scripture.  Open the bible and read it as though it was written to you.  Now, I don’t mean bible study.  I mean just take a bible, without study notes, and meditate on one part.  Maybe one section, or one verse, or even one word, and let God speak to you about it.  Use your imagination to put yourself in the place of Elijah by the stream, or Paul on the road, or become one of the throngs of people listening to Jesus on the mountainside.  What do you hear, see, sense, feel?  Meditate on scripture and let God speak to you through it.

Next, just get quiet.  Take a period of time and just turn everything off and listen.  Indoors, outdoors, wherever.  Don’t pray, or talk, or read, or listen to music, or bring a friend… just listen.  If you’ve never done this, it’s going to be really hard.   Try it for 1 minute.  Then 5 minutes.  Then 15 minutes.  Then half an hour.  Don’t feel guilty if your mind is racing and you can’t focus.

Once you get to the 10 or 15 minute mark, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and then go find someplace to just listen.  If something comes to mind that you need to do… write it down.  I have to do laundry… write it down.  I have to talk to someone… write it down.  I should pick up frozen corn next time I go to the grocery store… write it down.  Get it all out on paper and just listen.  If you don’t write it down then you’re going to keep hearing the same thing over and over.  Eventually your brain will stop coming up with distractions and you will be able to listen for God’s voice.  If and when He speaks… write it down.

And then go check out what you’ve been listening to with the Bible and another Christian friend/Pastor.  Simply say, “This is what I’ve been hearing from God and what I believe He’s saying… what do you think?”  That will help you from being deceived, and will keep you accountable.

What do you need to do this week to get started?

 1. Ask for the desire to listen.  The ability and desire to meditate is a gift from God.  Begin by asking Him for the want to and gumption to actually do it.  This is certainly a prayer He will answer.  God loves to give us gifts that bring us closer to Him.

2. Slow Down and Stop.  Deliberately do things that make you practice waiting.  Drive in the slow lane for a month.  Get in the long line at the grocery store.  And then find ways to stop.  Declare an electronics free day, or week.  No ipod, no tv, no cell phone after work, no computer after work.

3. Make Space.  Set a time in your calendar that will be a meditation day for you.  A couple of hours, or a whole day where you will just go and be alone and listen.  Tell people that you’re going, and set the date.  Then find a spot to be alone.  Not the mall, or the coffee shop, or the gym.  How about the park, or a place by the Ottawa river, or alone in your room?  And don’t take anything!  Nothing.  Nothing.  Nope, not that either!  Ortburg says,

“Solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mould us.”

Who do you want to mould you, society, or God?

Don’t get worked up if this is hard for a while.  No one can do this perfectly.  But God honours those who seek Him… He promises we will find Him.