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In the remake of the movie The Karate Kid, Jackie Chan says to Jayden Smith, “Your focus needs more focus.”  In a recent sermon, Pastor Ralph encouraged us to “Put off the old self and put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:20-24).  Put off anger, doubt, depression, discouragement, dread, fear, worry, and all the other ungodly things that can fill us and cloud our thinking.  Identify the negative things within us and let them go.  Be aware that Satan sees empty spaces in our lives as opportunities.  So, just as soon as we have made space, consider how God wants us to fill that space.  Put on God’s wisdom, a changed heart, a different attitude, and a determination to serve the Lord.

Pastor Ralph also said in this sermon, “Start with the right priority,” and encouraged us to begin each day with God, even if it is only two or three minutes in the beginning.  In April 2017, Lifeway Research asked this question among Americans:  How much of the Bible have you personally read?  The responses:  

  • 10% - none of it
  • 13% - only a few sentences
  • 30% - several passages or stories
  • 15% - at least half of it
  • 12% - almost all of it
  • 11% - all of it
  • 9% - all of it more than once

While polls/surveys are not always a reliable source, the number of people who read and apply the scriptures to their lives continues to dwindle.  Bible illiteracy is currently called a “scandal,” an “epidemic,” a “crisis,” and a “big problem.”  Where do we fall in the above statistics?  Do we ever complete our Bible reading for the day, close the Bible, mentally check it off our list, and then totally forget what we just read?  Or, has daily Bible reading become a hit or miss event?  Or, have we just abandoned it completely and depend on Bible Study and sermons for our once, maybe twice-a-week, spiritual feeding?  What can we do to “focus our focus” and “start with the right priority?” 

Recently, I received a booklet from Our Daily Bread Ministries entitled “Biblical Meditation:  Developing a Heart for God.”  The booklet defines biblical meditation, its benefits, and gives suggestions as how to meditate on Scripture.  Could biblical meditation enrich our time in God’s Word and increase our desire to learn more about God and what He has written to us? Could it help us begin 2020 with the right priority? 

Let’s clarify that biblical meditation is not to be associated with transcendental or western meditation which focuses on inner peace, or emptying our minds, or using our reasoning capacity.  Biblical meditation seeks to purge what should not be within us and fill our hearts and minds with scripture, truth, God’s presence, and a commitment to God’s purposes.  Listed below are some of the things involved in biblical meditation: 

  • Come into God’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to understand, to feel, to hear, and to act based on His Word.
  • Submit to God’s presence and truth.
  • Focus on God’s presence and God’s thoughts.
  • “Ponder” (think about, reflect on) who God is, what He has done.
  • Align our present life with God’s will for us.

The challenge is to develop the mental discipline of being able to close off our responsibilities, troubles and worries for specific time intervals.  Let our goal be spiritual contemplation that focuses on God, His Word and His thoughts. 

Listed below are some of the scriptures that support biblical meditation: 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8) 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) 

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Psalm 143:5). 

Suggestions for biblical meditation:

  1. Begin by selecting a Bible verse (longer portions of scripture or chapters can be used later as we gain experience. (Read the surrounding verses to get the setting and an understanding of the verse.)  We might want to read this verse in several translations.
  2. Write the verse in longhand on a 3x5 card. (Or, highlight it on the Bible app on our phone/computer/other electronic device.
  3. Memorize the verse.
  4. Study the text. Contemplate each word.  What does it tell us about who God is, His plan, His work?  How do we respond to this verse (in prayer, in obedience)?
  5. Pray for God to give you guidance to understand the text.
  6. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to and through the text. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you.  He is our secret weapon and will guide, teach, correct, encourage and strengthen us as we meditate on God’s Word.
  7. Consider the benefits of nighttime contemplations of scripture, particularly just before you go to sleep. Practice beginning and ending each day meditating on God’s Word.

Let’s look at a verse we have already memorized: 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1) 

The Lord is—He is the only Lord and ruler over all, creator of the universe, all-powerful, compassionate, forgiving, just, holy, loving, merciful, faithful, righteous, wise, unchanging, unshakable, our comforter, our intercessor, our refuge, sovereign. 

My Shepherd—He is MY Shepherd who leads by example, affirms, comforts, corrects, encourages, listens, guides, protects, sets boundaries, provides safety and life, laid down His life for us, knows us, and gives us a sense of belonging. 

I shall not be in want—He is our provider.  All our needs are supplied by the Lord our Shepherd, be satisfied and thankful for what the Lord our Shepherd has given us.  Daily make the decision to trust God to supply our needs.     

From this example, go to other favorite chapters or verses such as: 

Psalm 121

Proverbs 3:5-6

Isaiah 41:10

Romans 1:16-17

Romans 15:13 

Since all Christian forms of meditation are open to God’s presence and perspective, sometimes the things God reveals to us result in prayer to thank God, ask His guidance and wisdom in a particular situation, ask for forgiveness for a particular sin, or ask for His help in determining and developing action steps for what He wants to do in our lives.  This is not a lack of focus; it is following the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Once we’ve prayed, we can return to our Christian/biblical meditation.  

As I worked on this blog, Christian meditation has often been typed “Christian medication” and I’ve had to go back and make corrections.  To meditate on God’s Word is, in a sense, “Christian medication” indeed.  Prescribed medication can be effective, ineffective and sometimes even deadly.  A daily “dose” of spending time in God’s Word, seeking His presence and His will, and getting to know Him better will always be beneficial and effective.  Let us resolve to start this year with the right priority by studying God’s Word.  Our focus will have more focus.     

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Mark_8:34 “And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”.

Have we, in the modern-day church “taken up our cross and followed Christ”?  I grant you there are Christians in the world who have; who have been tortured, even killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  But we, who have been blessed by being born and raised in a country where there has been religious freedom; do we experience any persecution, rejection, hatred, discrimination, for our faith in Jesus?  I’d say in the majority of cases; its missing!!  Why?  Where is my Cross? 

Let me ask a question.  Am I the only one who has hesitated in talking about my faith, convictions, and beliefs because it wouldn’t “go over well” with my audience?   We have gone to the extreme of being “tolerant and sensitive” so that we are overly careful of not “offending” anyone.  Our “thought process” is something like; “it is more important to remain, friends, than to offend them by talking about sin, judgment, hell or prophecy.  They will think I’m a fanatic, extremist, crazy, obsessed!” So what do we do?  Talk about anything but our religious beliefs!  In our daily lives we are not noticeably different than anyone else – so we “fit in”.  Sorry, but that isn’t what the Lord intended for us to do.  As a matter of fact, it says in: 

Romans_12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. 

2 Corinthians_5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. 

John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”. 

Is there any reason for us to be “hated” by the world?  I would say probably not if we agree with them, do not confront them, or are not noticeably different from them.  So we go along from day to day being loving, sensitive, tolerant and not speaking or standing up for the Truth, our Faith, or our Convictions.  Not standing up for what the Holy Bible says is right and wrong!  After all, we want to be “liked”, not “hated”.  We want to avoid controversy, conflict, confrontation, at all costs.  We fear rejection, hatred, trouble – but Jesus said we could expect it in this broken world. 

John_16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. 

John_15:20 “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;  

Romans_12:14 “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not”. 

This does NOT mean we should hate or revile those who don’t believe as we do.  It says we should “Bless them”.  God loves them and we should also love and forgive them.  The question is; do they “know” how we believe? 

1 Corinthians 4:12-13  And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 

So, we’re starting a new year; can we deny our fears, emotions, and pick up our cross and follow Jesus?  People shouldn’t care about our “opinions” ~ it should come from our “authority” which is God’s Word.  His Word says: 

Gal 5:19-21  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God”. 

It seems pretty clear to me that we have “accepted” practices that we conveniently refer to as “cultural changes” that are NOT acceptable to God!  Sex outside of marriage is “fornication” and is immoral.  So many young people today “co-habitate" rather than marry!  It’s wrong and sinful, as is adultery, pornography, homosexuality, trans-genderism!   All sin is wrong and abhorrent to God, and we are all sinners.  The difference is in recognizing sin – asking for forgiveness – and repenting (or turning away from that sin)!   

I Corinthians 6:9-10Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God”.  

Abortion is Wrong!  Taking a life is Murder.  Exodus 20:13  “Thou shalt not murder.

In Old Testament days the “pagans” put their children/infants on a fiery alter as a “sacrifice” to a “make-believe god” named Molech.  God let the Israelites know what He thought of that practice (as well as homosexuality) in: 

Leviticus 18:21-22  And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.  

Another lie of the devil is that “there are many paths to heaven” ~ ~ “It doesn’t matter which “god” you believe in”!!  Wrong!!  There is Only One God and One way to salvation! 

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 

Ephesians_4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

To use today’s slang, we need to be “Woke” to reality.  It’s Not our job to change people, BUT it IS our job to “let our light shine” in a dark and broken world.  At my age, it may be a little late to make this realization, but I hope I can be used to awaken others to “Where our Cross Is”!!  We have been way to quiet and tolerant, and have found ourselves in a very immoral and decadent world.  Please pray that I will be bold and courageous in this new year ~ I’ll be praying for you!!

God Bless!  Dan

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