#365 - MEDITATION (4/6/21)
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at the power of fasting and some of the other spiritual disciplines.
Today, I want to look at the discipline of Christian Meditation.
Meditation is a mystery to many. Oftentimes we equate it with emptying the mind and using breathing exercises to experience detachment and peace. Christian meditation is about hearing God. It’s about filling the mind with His word in such a way that we hear His voice. Tim Keller wrote,
‘If prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.’
Meditation is a skill that needs to be practised and developed over time. Asking questions of a text is a great way to meditate. Using the four themes from Lord’s prayer that we looked at last week is a helpful guide:
We begin by asking the questions like: What does this text say about God? What can I praise and worship Him for?
For example, a text that I meditated on recently was Romans 1:8-9,
‘First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.’ (Romans 1:8-9).
Here’s are some examples that one could praise God for from this text:
“You are ‘my God’ because You have renewed my heart by grace…Through Jesus, I know You Father…Through ‘faith’ alone I’m saved. You have given me love for this message…I serve you with my spirit because You have renewed my spirit…This ‘gospel of Your Son’ reveals your greatest gift for me in my sin…You have given me a new love for your people so I can say ‘I constantly remember you…’ . You love me and your people constantly…” etc.
Here, we are asking these kinds of questions: What does this text reveal about God’s will? Is there a promise or command? What is the Father teaching me from this text? What can I pray for?
Again, using Romans 1:8-9 as an example, let’s briefly think about what we could pray for:
“May I and my church have a faith that’s ‘reported all over the world’…It’s your will that we take this message to the ends of the world. I pray for those who are involved in mission in other nations… May my church ‘serve in their spirit’. Revive us in our service. May we be active in sharing ‘the gospel of Your Son’… It’s your will that we ‘constantly remember’ one another. May I, may CCP, be a people of love and who are faithful prayer… Is there anyone in particular, Father, that you want me to encourage or pray for?…
In this third theme from The Lord’s Prayer, we’re meditating by asking questions such as: Does this text reveal that I’m in sin or missing what the Father wants for me? Where do I need forgiveness?
Romans 1:8-9 reveals a number of things about which we may need to ask forgiveness:
“Father, Am I actively sharing my faith as you would want?… Am I faithful in giving thanks and praying for the mission of the church? Do I love and want to be with your people?… Am I thankful for your people?..I’m sorry and repent of…”
Finally, in our meditation, we are asking questions like: Am I allowing the devil to rob me of truths revealed in this text?
Again, using Romans Romans 1:8-9 as example:
‘Father, deliver me from the discouragement that stops me from sharing my faith as actively as I should… I sorry for the way that recently I didn’t make the most of that opportunity with…Father, I’m often tempted not to want to come and be with Your people. Deliver me from the evil of selfishness and unfaithfulness…”
Meditation is active and requires focus. When the mind wanders, keep bringing it back to the text you’re mediating on. You will find it helpful to set a timer and slowly build up the time.
Meditation will be greatly enhanced by study (yesterday’s blog). Those who regularly study the bible will have a breadth of truth from which to draw on whilst meditating.
The simple response is to make a plan as to when, where and for how long you will meditate on scripture.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - WHEN YOU FAST
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any funny stories regarding food?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at the power of fasting as it is combined with prayer.
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at the power of fasting when accompanied by prayer.
Fasting, for many, is a mysterious or even a scary subject. The devil wants to discourage us from true prayer and fasting because of the power that it releases.
Please read Matthew 6:5-18
i) When you fast
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus includes fasting alongside giving and prayer. We are to must assume that, like these, fasting is an essential part of the Christian life.
Jesus expects his disciples to fast. Jesus makes it clear that there is a reward if we do it as He directs.
Jesus teaches us how not to fast - for a show. This perversion can easily infect any spiritual practice. I’m told that the Pharisees often had a practice of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. These were market days and so their spiritual devotion would receive greater attention.
Jesus teaches that our fasting is for God alone. We fast so as to focus on Him rather than in order for people to focus on us!
ii) What is fasting?
Fasting, strictly, is going without food for a set about of time in order to pray. Other kinds of fasts from delicacies or distractions can also be also be implemented.
Fasting helps us in two main ways:
Firstly, If you go without food for any time you will quickly realise your weakness and dependence upon God.
Secondly, fasting also frees up the time spent in preparing and eating, for prayer.
There are a number of reasons - ill health, pregnancy… - as to why it would not be wise to fast from food. However, we can fast from entertainment, social media etc. In fact, when you are fasting food, I encourage you to remove these distractions also.
The average person spends around 1 hour 50 minutes on social media and 4 hours watching video on demand each day! That’s a lot of potential prayer time!
iii) It’s time to fast.
Jesus said about the church in this age,
‘…The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.’ (Matthew 9:15)
1. Did God Speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?
2. What are the two main things that fasting does?
3. Read Acts 13:2-3. What does prayer and fasting achieve?
4. What is your current practice in regard to fasting?
5. Nev encouraged us to make a plan as to when you could fast. He suggested that we start in a small way such as praying instead of eating your lunch one day each week. What is your plan?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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