In case I don’t see you before then, Happy New Year!
Anyway, here at Waratah Church in January we are doing a series for the new year called ‘Do yourself a favor,’ the classical Christian spiritual disciplines for dummies. I thought it would be a great idea to start the new year deciding to listen to God rather than add yet more stuff to our already crowded lives.
The first session on this series is on Meditation where I try to explain what it is, how Judeo-Christian Meditation differs from Eastern religions, why we should give it a go and lastly, how to kind of get started. So I’m not going to repeat it all here. No, what follows is for those who having heard this sermon (or not) want to get some idea of how biblical meditation looks like.
All I have done is decided to do what I normally do in my quiet time each morning and instead of use my written journal, stick it here in my online journal.
It’s not meant to be a theological dissertation.
I have no idea if today is going to be a eureka moment or simply just a confirmation of something or, yikes, even a conviction. All you’ll really get to see is how the word of God interacts with our mind and spirit when we, through asking the right questions, make space for his Spirit to move.
Now if you’ll excuse me for a few minutes, I’m just going to read my Bible (I’m going thru Acts 13 at the moment) until something,whatever it is, jumps out at me…….
……Ok, I am back, having prayed asking God to reveal what he wants to say to me, here’s the verse that really struck me this morning:
Acts 13:22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.
1. So on to the reflection questions:
- What does this tell me about God?
God loves us and wants to save the world and it is for this reason that when it comes to people placed in leadership or representation of him, He will not hesitate to ‘replace’ the one who simply isn’t interested in pursuing him. This idea that the grand plan is to important to have the ‘wrong man’ for the job is precisely one of the reasons why I can have hope today. For ultimately, even David ‘tripped over’ sin. The only person in all history that really, really was totally 100% committed to God without even a second thought was Jesus, and it was only because of this that he stayed on the cross as everyone around him jeered at him to get down. God refuses to let anyone, anyone get in the way of him accomplishing his mission.
- What does this tell me about me?
My sin does not simply affect me. It does even simply affect my relationship with God. My sin affects others. For every sin of mine causes me to ‘get in the way’ of God’s plan for those around me and those I lead. If I do not keep ‘short accounts’ with God then it compromises my witness and if this becomes the case for long enough, God will not hesitate to remove me from my role.
It also makes me wonder, is there a link between our lack of confession as a central part of our modern worship and the relative ineffectiveness of our mission to our own community and culture?
It also tells me that I can repent and can keep a ‘short account’ only because of the purity and completeness of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
- Are there any examples/commands/warnings and encouragements that I need to be aware of
A warning can also be an encouragement in the opposite direction. There’s a warning that to ignore God ends in…..replacement. But on the other hand I have lost count how often in the middle of seeking God thru Bible meditation, there has been a voice of affirmation to “keep going, this what actually matters, more than ‘productivity’ or good organisation.”
- What might this reveal about my enemy Satan?
Satan would love nothing more than have me believe that my personal pursuit of relational intimacy with God and personal prayer life have no bearing on the effectiveness of my ministry or witness. This is because the truth is that it in fact has ever bearing.
2. Now some questions to help these insights descend into the heart.
- How might I change the more this truth ‘sinks in’?
The more this becomes real to me the more two seemingly paradoxical truths dominate my experience.
On one hand, I would realize more and more often that it is ultimately my relationship with God and not my gifts and talents that are the key to any fruitfulness and hence realize that all even the most mundane of distractions are part of a spiritual battle to pull me away from God and therefore the significance of overcoming those distractions is eternal.
And on the other, as I realize more and more that Jesus lives to the standard that I can never reach in my place, I am free through grace to pursue intimacy and obedience knowing that even this decision is the work of God’s power in me.
Wow, thank you Lord for reminding me of this over and over again! So precious is the realization and experience of challenge tempered by peace, the thought of diligence producing excitement rather that the dread of toilsome labor. Knowing that God is for me, else-wise I would not even be savoring this realization be.
- Why might the Spirit have drawn my attention to this text today? / What is going on in my life right now that this speaks to?
God knows that I face many challenges in 2016 in regards to how various ministries and programs are going to work. Often in my life I have used sheer willpower and human strength to get things off the ground and running. He has heard my prayer commitment to not move an inch on various things until he makes plain what it is that he wants me to do.
Lord you have also heard my recent prayer of honesty, the 9 things that I have said to you that I have literally no Idea how I am going to do this year coming but I know that you know and that I will wait for you.
I believe that you are confirming this new approach of simply getting time with you, committing these things to you in prayer and waiting on you. i thank you that you remind me in the mean time that my value is not based in my leadership, talents nor productivity but in that you were willing to be the perfect leader, the perfect example, the perfect…..sacrifice in my place, and thus replacing my fear with a sense of adventure, my worry to peace, my ‘why me,’ to ‘why not’.
You free me to have a go. You release me from fear of failure at a time in my life full of planning, ideas and challenges. You remind me saying; “just keep pursuing me, and you too will be able to one day write ‘the Lord is my shepherd,”It’s God’s mission, I’m just his servant and nothing can get in the way of him accomplishing his mission.
The closer I walk with you Lord, the less complex leading others is.
- How am I going to apply this today?
Given these insights, I think that after my other engagements and sermon practice this afternoon I will return to my journal and ‘honesty page’ and simply pray through things until our new years event this evening.
Thank you Lord for guiding my thoughts through this meditation today.
……..So there it is. That’s kind of what my morning quiet time looks like. Like I said, good questions make room for the Spirit to move and pave the road for more insights to travel on.
Don’t freak out of you’re thinking “man I could never write down all that,” when I first started doing this I was lucky to get a sentence for each question.
Also, this is just me, everyone is different and this is not going to work for a lot of people but here’s the point: whenever we make an effort to be with God and listen to his word encouragement and new strength in never, NEVER far away.