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Discipline Three—Meditation: Finding Quietness in Ultra Busy Times DYG: Message Six
Have you ever noticed how distracted people are?
It seems like everyone is looking for something to do, and then when they do it, they didn’t enjoy it — because they were thinking about something else. That is distraction. That is the malady of our culture.
I was with my children Friday night at Chuck E. Cheese’s, they were very excited and having a blast. For a few moments I looked at the parents around us, many of them appeared to still be at the office. Their children were so excited running from game to game gleefully enjoying themselves. The parents held a cup of tokens — and looked off into the distance at what I couldn’t tell. One thing I was sure of, they were not at Chuck E. Cheese’s. That picture is riveted in my mind — it’s a picture of our distracted culture. We hold tokens to life, those around us are spending them and we aren’t even paying attention.
Hand in hand with distraction is dissatisfaction. Part of the reason that there are so many dissatisfied people in our world is that they are completely distracted from what they are doing — by something else they think they want to do.
Today we live in a distracted world, among distracted people, with distracted minds, distracted families, and distracted lives.
Distraction leads to aimlessness, uselessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness.
For a believer the guard against a distracted life is the Word Filled Life. A life that is filled with God’s Word is focused and nurtured by the Lord. That is the only protection we have to prevent our lives becoming distracted, dissatisfied, and useless. God wants me to have focus in life. God wants our lives to be aimed at his Glory, fulfilling our calling, filled with His hope, and living after the power of an endless life.
God has one solution for the aimlessness, hopelessness, uselessness, and powerlessness of his people. He describes it 8 times in Psalm 119. And that is where we are heading in a complete look at the Word Filled Life – but not this morning. Before we study Psalm 119 — we need to go to the New Testament and see what was the norm for Christ’s Church..
Remember the letter Paul wrote to Timothy? Timothy had been led to Christ by the apostle Paul, and now was being nurtured in his life by the apostle Paul. First Timothy is a discipleship manual; a guide for directing a life Godward. In chapter four we find a series of step that God COMMANDS of Timothy. Please look closely with me at the words of Paul’s discipleship manual for a godly young believer in I Timothy 4.11-16.
THINKING DEEPLY ABOUT GOD IN A SHALLOW WORLD
Meditation — or as some of your Bibles translate this word ”take pains with “. What is meditation? Meditation can be described and select the digestive faculty of the mind. What we take into our minds we process by meditation.
Meditation is thinking deeply upon something; meditation digests what we have learned. There is a terrible spiritual condition of Biblical anorexia — a lack of hunger for God’s Word and its twin sister — Biblical bulimia. Both are the result of a severe deficiency of Biblical meditation.
When we meditate were taking God’s Word, examining it, and turning it over and over in our minds. That is the only way to proper nutrition in our unhealthy world. Surrounded by confusing voices, twisted paths, and hurried lives — God has just the cure for His children.
Paul instructs Timothy to devote himself completely to Jesus Christ. He gives him a simple list of items to follow; they start back in verse seven. He is first to exercise himself toward godliness; then he is to command and teach the truth. In verse 12 is commanded to be an example in all that he does. Then he is to get focused and use his gifts. Then we come to verse 15, meditate on these things. Paul says to think deeply, to digest these, and to apply them to his life.
In the New Testament world, the Word Paul chose for meditate carries the idea of “being in something” and “giving yourself totally to” that. Like to a napkin absorbing water, it’s hard to keep them apart — the napkin draws water to itself. The believer draws the Word into his life.
Meditation controls our thinking; it dominates us. One way to look upon meditation is to think of all of the applications to life that is certain verse could have for us. I would challenge you this morning — start applying God’s Word to your life. o Think deeply about flight of verse implies your response should be to God. o Think of every possible application that a Scripture can have in your life. If you do that — you are meditating.
A word to all you students — what would you think of a computer class that had no computers for you to work at? Would you feel cheated if you never held a mouse, never typed on a keyboard, never looked at a monitor? Do you get the idea? You’re not really studying the Bible if you read it and never apply it to your life. Meditation is the application to my life.
If you are an aviation student and never see an airplane, never take a flight, never go to airport — haven’t you been cheated? Take the Word, apply the Word, and live the Word.
If you’ve ever succeeded in anything you understand what meditation takes.
Anyone who succeeds at anything has learned to completely focus. The young child learning to walk is completely focused on walking. Later in life when he learned to ride a bicycle — it took absolute concentration. Any sport that’s mastered has to be fully concentrated in focus to be achieved.
This morning God wants us to succeed. He wants us to achieve the maximum life for us possible on Earth. And to do that we need to stay focused in spite of all the distractions around us.
GOD’S TEAM OF WORD FILLED LIVES
There is a collection of individuals I like to look on as God’s Team. They were men and women who lived extraordinary lives, yet they were ordinary people. As far as we can see from God’s Word the only unique aspect each of these share is the fact that they had what I call a Word Filled Life.
We are going on a journey through chapters of the Bible this morning. In each chapter we will meet an ancient person with very contemporary problems that nearly every one of us here in this place can relate to completely. After we see these men and women, boys and girls in their world they had to deal with – we will find amazingly, that each of them shared a simple habit. A chosen path way they all followed, as they existed through all the handicaps, misfortunes, and successes they found in life. And that one simple habit sets each of these apart from the rest of the world. They each practiced the Simple Discipline of Meditation. How did they do it? Were there keys books, seminars, tapes, study guides…no; they just grasped on to the truth that knowing God is a choice, a lifestyle, a habit we must either make or neglect. They pointed their ordinary everyday lives toward God, and wouldn’t let go of Him.
Meet God’s Team of Eleven ordinary men and women who had Word Filled Lives.
Please open to Genesis 5. Enoch had a Word Filled Life – even as a dad. The Scriptures say this walk started ‘after the birth of his son’. His family wasn’t an excuse to neglect the Lord, but a prompting to seek the Lord daily! Enoch learned how to seek the Lord while living in a world so wicked God had to drown every person alive on Earth except the 8 in the ark. How did Enoch stay Word Filled?
He meditated upon the Lord while he walked! How did Enoch ever do that? Meditation – which meant Enoch “walked “ his talk with God each day. Genesis 5:22, 24 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. o Who do you think was following whom? Do you really think that this means that a big glowing cloud of Shekinah glory tailed Enoch? I don’t think so. o Actually it means that God was invited into every part of Enoch’s life. All day long at every meeting, every stop, every call, and every situation – The Lord Himself was a part of it all. o Has the Lord been invited by you personally — into every part of your life?
Enoch chose to take God into every day, every part of his life — what the Lord had said to him went with him. If you want to be great for the Lord, learn to walk through life with God.
Next time you see a teen with their headphones on listening to something – think about your life. Are you listening to the voice of the Lord (through God’s Word that you have opened and allowed into your heart and mind)? That is what Enoch did, and it made him a hero on God’s Team. He walked through life with his headphones on – listening to the Lord!
Please open to Genesis 6. Noah had a Word Filled Life while he was consumed by his job (he HAD to finish the ark), in the wickedest work spot of all history. Noah had to work among people who had every imagination filled with evil. They were demonic, murderous, and immoral. How on Earth did Noah do it? Meditation – which meant Noah “did” what the Lord asked him to do even if it sounded impossible. Genesis 6:22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. o What God had said — Noah remembered. o What God had said — Noah kept thinking about. o What God had said — Noah obediently did! o Have you remembered, thought about, and acted upon THE LAST TRUTH YOU LEARNED when God spoke to you (through the voices of His apostles and prophets in God’s Word)? o Last time you opened God’s Word — were you listening to God or just reading?
Noah was on God’s Team because he listened and obeyed. He did what God asked him to do. He remembered what God said, thought about it, and made a plan to obey what the Lord said. That is powerful even though it is simple. Noah knew what the Lord had told him and did something about it. Next time you read God’s Word ask your self – what did the Lord just say to me? And what does he want me to do about that? And how can I do that in such a way that I please Him? You are becoming a man or woman of God by meditating upon God’s Word by taking it in as you live life (like Enoch) and doing something to respond obediently to God (like Noah).
Now open with me to Genesis 12. Abraham had a Word Filled Life while experiencing complete turmoil in his personal life. Abraham had a Word Filled Life while packing to move across the continent from one coast to the other. Abraham had a Word Filled Life even though he lost his job in the city and had to take up outdoor work as a cattleman. Abraham had a Word Filled Life while he had to move away from his family, raise his brother’s son, and even while moving from life in a two-story home in the city to a goat hair tent out in the hills of Canaan. How did Abraham do it? Meditation – which meant Abraham ‘built” an altar or meeting place with God where ever he was. Genesis 12:7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built (established; constructed) an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. o Abraham marked out reminders of what God had revealed to him. o Abraham wanted to remember what God said, so he invested in special time consuming efforts to never forget what God has done, what God had promised, what God expected. o Altars marked the big events of his walk with the Lord. Do you listen and mark clearly God’s plans for you. Are you remembering or forgetting?
Our final example this morning is Abraham. His habit of altar making is profound if you think about it. Abraham did everything possible to not forget. If God Almighty took the time to reveal something to him – Abraham was bound and determined not to lose what God said. He went out of his way to raise a vivid marker. He rolled and piled stones into an altar. He went out a chose a special animal to sacrifice. He gathered wood and fire and rope and a knife. Then we bloodied and blackened those rocks with the sacrifice. What a vivid reminder to him. He heard from God, then he offered a sacrifice to God – and declared by that sacrifice that God was worthy of his attention. He wanted to remember what the Lord said so he would never let the Lord down by forgetting Him. Are we so focused? Do we take the time to set up markers at the spots where God has revealed Himself to us? One way to start is decide that you will read God’s Word until you hear Him speak. Then note what He says. Jot a word in the margin of your Bible. Draw an arrow to that verse, then bow and offer a sacrifice. Say to the Lord “I will remember you today” and then by the power of the Holy Spirit of God living inside of you and me – walk through life with God (like Enoch), seeking to obey what you remember He said (like Noah), and set up markers or altars of remembrance (like Abraham).
What a TEAM. What a lesson for us. Often however we don’t hear the voice of the Lord in His Word because our lives are too full and too complex. One of the best ways to experience the discipline of meditation – and the immense rewards that it will bring to our lives, is to practice a spiritual fast.