Learning to Meditate

The following was originally posted in "A Study in the Psalms" as part of Soma Spokane's Psalm's: Meditation and Renewal Series. Thanks to our friends at Soma Spokane for this material!

A Basic Outline

Just the Beginning

Learning to meditate with the psalmist is a life-long process of learning. My hope for this study is not that you’ll get it all figured out but that you’ll begin to learn what it is like to experience renewal on a daily basis. I want this study to raise your hopes that you can know God more intimately and experience him more regularly. Without a doubt you’ll have seasons of life with Christ that are just dry – you don’t feel much of anything. In these seasons, we are reminded that we walk by faith and not by sight. But my hope is that you’ll begin to have more seasons of deep refreshment and renewal. This is promised to us in the word: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3.19-20).

Here is the basic process you’ll go through each day. Below are the specific psalms we’ll be studying, and the daily steps spelled out in greater detail. The whole process can be done in less than 30 minutes, but can be done in 5 minutes or 5 hours if you like!

Step One – Prepare (2 minutes): You’ll want to begin by collecting your thoughts and directing your attention to the word. Pray for spiritual eyes to see, a humble heart to learn, and the Holy Spirit to be your teacher and guide.

Step Two – Read (10 minutes): Spend a few minutes reading the whole Psalm through, just reminding yourself of the whole context of the psalm. In addition, each day will have a shorter piece, just a few verses, to really focus in on. Read through the shorter section for the day a few times, slowly, paying close attention to each word, the repeated phrases, the interesting word pictures. Jot a few notes regarding what is written:

What is the author experiencing? How do you know?

What is the author communicating about who God is & what He’s done? How does he communicate it, and why does he communicate it that way? 

Step Three – Meditate (10 minutes): This is where you begin to real “chew” on the truth that is revealed in the Scriptures. You want to move beyond Bible study to personal reflection and engagement. Pay attention to what you are seeing and discovering, and write stuff down. Here is a basic order to follow, but it doesn’t need to be extremely rigid. You may find yourself spending more time on one area than the other.

Adoration: What do I see that I can praise God for? Why should I love him?

Repentance: What wrong behavior & emotions result when I forget this? Gospel

Thanks: How does Jesus show this or give this blessing perfectly?

Aspiration: How would I be different if this truth were powerfully real to me?

Step Four – Pray (8 minutes or more): As you meditate, begin to turn your thoughts and reflections directly to Him. Adore him, praise him, repent before him, give thanks to him, and ask that he’d make this truth more real. This is meditation fueling your prayer life, where you are taking the truth and beauty that you see in the word and experience through the Holy Spirit and allowing it to motivate and move you to prayer, love, and good deeds. Just go with it!

At anytime you may enjoy a real sense of God’s presence on the heart – enjoy Him! This is his gift to you of himself, it is God drawing near and revealing himself to you. Relish in the gift of his presence, ask that others would know more of his presence, and commit yourself to walking throughout the day in his presence!

For each week, by Friday you’ll be ready to compose a short prayer that you can write out and carry with you. The goal is that you are not only taking time to meditate, regularly working the truth of these Psalms deep into your soul, but that you are also armed for the battle moment by moment. The daily study will help you tune your heart to God’s grace, and the short prayer will help you keep in tune throughout the day. As you think about what to write, try to summarize the theme of the Psalm in a few short sentences.

Meditating on Scripture

As we seek to be a church of disciples who make disciples we must make sure that the Word of God is central to our development and growth.  

One discipline we often do not walk well in is the discipline of meditationWe live busy, hectic and crazy lives. There is not much silence in our lives, and we often have our calendars packed back-to-back. All of these, and more, contribute to a lack of nourishment that comes from the Word.

However, if we are to grow as disciples of Jesus we must study, meditate on, and memorizes the Word of God.

We see throughout the Bible that we are encouraged as disciples to be a people who are committed to the Word.

We cannot serve a God whom we do not know. We learn who God is through His Word and works.

In Tim Keller’s book “Prayer”, he talks about the importance of meditation. He gives the following process by which a disciple of Jesus is to meditate upon the Scriptures.

First, Ask the hermeneutical questions:

  1. What did the original author intend to convey to his readers in this passage?

  2. What role does this text play in the whole Bible? How does it contribute to the whole gospel message and move along the main narrative of the Bible? - Tim Keller, "Prayer," pg. 149

Studying is also a prerequisite for meditating.  Apart from study, you won’t be able to meditate on the meaning of the passage, because you won’t know what the passage means.

Second, we are to meditate upon the Scriptures.

Joshua 1:7-8, Psalm 1, and Psalm 119:7-16 are passages that encourage memorization and/or command meditation.

“Psalm 1 commands meditation. The word used in the Psalm literally means “to mutter,” or recite from memory. “To meditate is to ask yourself questions about the truth, such as: “Am I living in light of this? What difference does this make? Am I taking this seriously? If I believed and held to this, how would that change things? When I forget this, how does that affect me and all my relationships?” - Tim Keller, "Prayer," pg. 148

Jesus was the ultimate meditator of Scripture.  He resisted the devil by quoting Scripture in the desert. Keller goes on to say, "He is the one who meditated so profoundly on Scripture that He virtually 'bled' Scripture, quoting it instinctively in the most extreme moments of life." ("Prayer," pg. 163)

Over the next two weeks we want to encourage you, your family, your DNA group and/or Missional Community to meditate on Psalm 145. Study it and then let us soak in it together.

Helpful Resources on Meditation:

17 Ways to Meditate on Scripture

22 Benefits of Meditating on Scripture

 

David’s Greatest Song

We all have things we treasure, love, care deeply about. Things we would deeply miss if we lost them. For some it’s people. For others it’s a hobby or career. For children it may be their favorite toy. Each of us, Kings, Paupers and everyone in between, has a treasure our heart longs for.

King David had many things that he loved. Consider the relationships, wealth and power of a King. David had many wives whom he cared for. His Kingdom was full of riches from around the known world. He had the power to command anyone in his Kingdom to do nearly anything he desired. King David had all that the world could offer, yet, in the Magnum Opus of the greatest hymn writer, (Psalm 119) all earthly treasure faded into the background. His heart overflowed for his greatest love.

If you don’t have time to read the whole chapter right now, just read through these excerpts:

Psalm 119:11

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:103

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:105

[ Nun ] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:139

My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Psalm 119:162

I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

Psalm 119:172

My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.

 

In these few verses, it’s clear that David clings to God’s Word for guidance and sanctification. He delights in God’s Word like his mouth delights in good food. That his hope is in God’s Word. That his love for God’s Word fills him with so much joy that he can’t help by sing about it. For David, the Word of God was so much more than a mere book. For Him it was the very breath of God, bringing his soul back to life. Illuminating the darkest places of His heart.

We have grown numb

When I read David’s shameless emoting about God’s Word, it magnifies the deadness in my own heart towards the object of David’s affection. How often I roll out of bed and grumpily open God’s Word to check a box on my to-do list. How often has someone shared with me how God’s Word has spoken to them, and I smile, but, in my heart, I just want to do anything else. How many times do I come to the end of a day and know that my soul needs more, yet I want nothing more than to fall asleep.

Apparently I am not alone. According to a recent poll 19% of people who believe that the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God read the Bible 4 times per week or more. So 81% of people who believe they hold a special revelation from God in their hands don’t engage with it regularly.

The root cause

The  reason we are so cold to the Word of God is that we have a worship problem. We all have 24 hours in a day, and we all choose to spend that time based on what our hearts want most. Sadly, if we are not engaging in God’s word daily, that means that everything we spend time doing is something we love more than God’s Word. (Luke 6:43-45)

So just pull up my boot straps and read it, right?

We can’t muster up a love of God’s Word by simply reading it more. Reading the Word in our own power and our own strength will profit us nothing. (Psalm 127:1-2) The Bible is not a magical book. Reading the words on the page alone won’t change us. We need something more.

The better way.

  1. Pray that the Holy Spirit will make us more like Jesus. We cannot change our hearts, but God can and will. (2 Thess 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2)

  2. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak through his Word. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would speak to us through God’s Word. (John 16:13-14)

  3. Get Help. Now that we are relying on the Spirit and not ourselves, we can open God’s Word and start reading. There are a ton of free and inexpensive resources available to get more out of your time in the Word including:

    1. Youversion: This was one of the first Bible apps and is still the most popular. It has some great reading plans to guide you. I’m currently going through the ESV Study Bible plan because it’s a great mixture of Old and New Testament readings each day. Josh is currently listening (audio version in the Bible app) to the M’Cheyne one year reading plan.

    2. ESV Study Bible/Reformation Study Bible: These are both great study bibles that are full of notes to help you understand each passage.

    3. Commentaries: There are very smart people who have studied the Bible for a lifetime who share their thoughts on many books of the Bible. Listening to their interpretations can help illuminate the Scripture for you. As you study a book, ask your MC leader for recommendations of good commentaries.

    4. Your Pastor/Elder/MC leader: If you want to make your MC Leader’s day, tell them that you want help studying Scripture. Any Pastor who loves the church God has put in his care will be excited to help you, or even study the Bible with you.

    5. Preaching at Sunday Gatherings: In our church we regularly preach through books of the Bible. That that opportunity to study the same book. Get a commentary for yourself and read it. Learn along with your Pastor.

    6. Share God’s Word in Community: A good meal that is shared with friends tastes sweeter. Likewise, when you find a great treasure in God’s Word, sharing it with the family enhances your enjoyment of it. Share what the Holy Spirit teaches you with your Missional Community. The Holy Spirit may want to use you to teach the same Word you received to someone else.


 

RH Messages (finally) on iTunes

Well we have finally caught up to 2015 and have our message audio on iTunes :)

We have been slowly working through some stuff with our website, one of them being getting our message to go to iTunes so people can subscribe. As of now we are working backwards so the most current message series, 1 Peter, is up and we are working on adding 2014 message. We have 9 messages up at this point and will be adding more as the weeks go on. Click on image below to be redirected and subscribe. 

For those of you who are interested in a message that isn't online, you can look up the different series we have done here, and download most messages to your computer or stream them online. 

Christmas in Ecuador


As a church family, we want to seek to be about gospel saturation in the greater Lewiston/Auburn area. We will continue to seek to be a church that plants churches and continue to train and equip people to do the work of ministry in their context. In the midst of this focus on the community we work, serve, and live in, we also understand the need to be part of what Jesus is doing around the world. 

This Christmas we have an opportunity to do just that. We are partnering with Byron and Becky Gudino, who live in Quito, Ecuador and are working through Isaiah 61 International. Redemption Hill is excited to be part of bringing Christmas to a needy area high up on the mountainside in Quito this year. Below is a letter from Byron & Becky about how as a church family we can come alongside their ministry and help them not only give Christmas to 100+ kids, but also have the chance to share the love of Jesus as they seek to plant churches in this needy community. 


"The Delfin (dolphin) Daycare needs 100 candy bags, plus they can always use supplies for kids 0-3 years old, such as diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies for the daycare, toilet paper, etc. Byron and I have worked with the Delfin Daycare for many years. They are located in a very poor, mostly black neighborhood called 9 de Julio (July 9), high up on the mountainside in Quito. The government subsidizes the monthly tuition, but the daycare often lacks simple things for the daily care of the children, such as diapers and wipes. Besides sponsoring ten children, paying their tuition so they can be at daycare while their mothers work, Isaiah 61 Ministries also leads a weekly Bible Study there with the director of the daycare, Nila, her husband Johnny, and the workers. We are praying that eventually this Bible Study will grow into another church plant.

In December, we will host a Christmas party for the children and their families, with Luis Vargas, our Christmas Clown, and a gospel message for all. Even though we only sponsor ten of the children, the Christmas party is for everyone. 
Thank you so much from all of the kids!

Byron & Becky" 

Our goal this Christmas is to raise $300 for the children in this community. This will go along ways to showing the child care workers, the children, family, and the community that they are cared for and loved. 
We want to encourage you to please pray as a family about this opportunity and give as God leads you. You can do it online HERE (please make a note that this is for the “Ecuador Christmas Project”) or the next two Sundays at our gathering there will be a chance to give.
 

See images of children from last year. Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

 

Reverse Gospel Grid

Over the past few weeks in our RH Basics series, we've looked at Who God is and What God has done. Over the next few weeks we will look at Who it is we are and What we are to do. We call this the Gospel grid. It is the framework that shows us how God intended things to be, so that who we are and what we do flow naturally out from who He is and what He's done.

We see this grid perfected in the story of creation, as everything was perfect upon creation. We are His image-bearing creation. Bearing his image includes hanging out with God and stewarding His stuff. Yet when the fall happened, this 'Gospel Grid' was reversed.

What did Adam and Eve do? They ate the forbidden fruit. Who did they perceive themselves to be? Unloved children. What had God done (in their eyes)? Withheld from them, even lied. So who was God (in their eyes)? They were. They were their own god's.

This reversing of the Gospel-grid can be a helpful diagnostic tool for families, fight clubs, missional communities, etc., for getting to the root sin issue. Let me give you an example I had to wrestle with to illustrate.

What did I do? I was bitter.
Who was I? Misunderstood; I was not appreciated.
What had God done? He hadn’t recognized my 'perfectly good awesomeness.'
Who was God for me in that situation? My ‘God’ was the approval of others.

It was easy to see my outward sin (bitterness) but what I really needed to see was the root of my sin. I was being bitter because I was looking to other’s approval as though it were God.

I would encourage you to use this reverse method as a diagnostic tool on your own. Use it in your fight clubs and if you are a parent, in your parenting. However, it is important to know that each time you reverse the grid it will look different. I was bitter because I was failing to get other's approval. Yet someone else could be bitter because they want control they don't possess. Walking through this backwards will probably be most effective in community with people listening to your story and asking questions to understand just where your heart is in regards to believing lies about yourself and God. Below are a few more examples to help you think this through more visually:

Remember, when you start with you, then you answer "Who is God", he will always be a lowercase "g" god. Meaning, this is not really who God is, it is who you believe god to be, it is an idol of your own making.

Remember, when you start with you, then you answer "Who is God", he will always be a lowercase "g" god. Meaning, this is not really who God is, it is who you believe god to be, it is an idol of your own making.


Disciples & Discipleship

This past Sunday I taught on our identity as disciples who make disciples, as part of our RH Basics Series. One of the main things I pointed out is that most of us use the term disciple & discipleships, yet we do not have a good working definition of what a disciple is and how we are to walk through the process of discipleship. I offered 2 definitions, which I stole from fellow pastor Jeff Vanderstelt.

Disciple: one who is increasingly worshiping Jesus in all of life, being changed by Jesus, and obeying Jesus' commands.

Discipleship: leading others to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ.

I have found these helpful as I learn to live as a disciple of Jesus and as I seek to live a lifestyle of discipleship. 

What about you, are these helpful? Do they give you a sense of what you are called to do and how you are to live?