CHRISTIAN MEDITATION – THE GREAT DUTY

Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him.

Martin Luther

Yesterday I wrote about the upcoming theme for the next couple of weeks, and that is the important of one of the greatest and most helpful duties to the Christian, and that is the various purposes on meditating on God’s Word. I also believe it is very important to do so in today’s day and age of the overly busy, instantaneous lifestyles many live today. There are very few that study deeply, and hopefully meditating on God’s Word will draw the church back to studying God’s Word and being about the Father’s business.

When we think of the word duty, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some it might mean work, to others a form a service, still to someone else it may seem like something forced or demanded. When it comes to Christian duty, it is a good work, yes, and it is a form of service or of worship of God as the end goal. However, God does not want anything done out of force or reluctance.

No, He wants it done out of love, appreciation for what He has done in the sinners life, and growing them to be more like Christ Himself, to be merciful, gracious, kind, loving, giving, selfless, sacrificial, the very same attributes He showed towards us.

Now there are many duties in the Bible, and it is good for us to know these things. Some are very obvious, like in chapter 3 of Colossians where we have two main duties that are very obvious; put on our new (saved) self, and rules (duties) for Christian household living. Now these things are not going to come natural at first, and that is why we need to be about our good works (duties) daily, and not just act Christian (which is actually being a hypocrite) when we are around other Christians, the church, or some event. This is the main reason to meditate on the scriptures, that it becomes natural and we walk by the Spirit not by the flesh.

We also need to keep in mind as we are doing our Christian duties, we are NOT to show that we are better, more perfected, self-exalting ourselves at our tasks, thinking we are better or more special than others. We are not doing this for our glory, but for His. We are doing these things for we are to be obedient, yet humble, for He says “Be holy as I am holy”, and holiness is what we grow in and is the end goal as well. However, the only way we can get there is submitting our lives to the trusting care and guidance of God through His Word daily and the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells inside every believer.

As I said in yesterdays devotional. much of this on Christian meditation is going to come from Thomas Watson’s book titled The Saints Spiritual Delight. When the author open the introduction to meditation he says thus:

A Christian enters into meditation, as a man enters into the bath: so that he may be healed. Meditation heals the soul of its deadness and earthliness; but more of this afterwards.

That is why I chose one of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah 53:5, for there is no greater bath, no greater healing, than in the laver of blood at the cross of Calvary!

Pastor Watson then gives the two positions of meditation; it is either imposed or opposed.

  1. Meditation is a duty imposed – “Meditation is not arbitrary. The same God who bid us to believe, has bid us to meditate.” Joshua 1:8-9 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  These words, though spoken to the person of Joshua, concern everyone; just as the promise made to Joshua concerned all believers (Jos. 1.5 compared with Heb. 13.5).2 So this precept made to the person of Joshua, you shall meditate in this book of the law, takes in all Christians. It is the part of a hypocrite to enlarge the promise, and to narrow the precept; you shall meditate in this book of the law; the word you is indefinite, and reaches every Christian; as God’s word directs, so his will must enforce obedience to it.
  2. Meditation is a duty opposed – “We may conclude it is a good duty, because it is against the stream of corrupt nature. We shall find, naturally, a strange averseness to meditation. We are swift to hear, but slow to meditate.” Galatians 5:16-17 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

    Ephesians 6:11-13 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

To think about the world, if it were all day long, is delightful; but as for holy meditation, how the heart wrangles and quarrels with this duty! Now truly, no other reason is needed to prove a duty is good, than the reluctance of a carnal heart to do it. For instance, in the duty of self-denial: “Let a man deny himself,” Mat. 16.24. Self-denial is as necessary as heaven; but what disputes are raised in the heart against it! What! To deny my reason, and become a fool that I may be wise? No, not only deny my reason, but my righteousness! What! To cast it overboard, and swim to heaven upon the plank of Christ’s merits? This is such a duty that the heart naturally opposes and enters its dissent against it. Yet this is an argument to prove that the duty of self-denial is good. It is just so with this duty of meditation: the secret antipathy the heart has against it, shows it to be good; and this is reason enough to enforce meditation.

Like myself, I hope this excites you to go deeper into the Word of God, to meditate on all things that He has given us to know Him, to worship Him, to praise and glorify Him. In doing so, may it also help us to crucify the flesh, to repent of our many sins, to seek His grace and growth in holiness that only the Holy Spirit can work in us! Yes, we have duties to do, but it is God who does ALL of the sanctifying work in us!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

Be Still!

Prayer is when you talk to God;
meditation is when you listen to God.

Author Unknown

I have touched on the subject in past writings and think I am going to go back to it and this time go a lot deeper. The problem that has been proposed to new Christians and even those who have been acting like Christians for some time is “How do I know what God’s Will (for my life) is?” Now I put the for my life in parenthesis because there is the basic will of God for all Christians lives and then is a called will of God beyond those of the general call such as a Pastor or teacher of the Word of God.

So in the opening quote of this devotional, we see listed two very important points of God’s will for the Christians life, one of which we do a whole lot more than the other. The other point we need to clarify when we are talking about God’s will is we need to look at it from the standpoint of duty or of service to Him. Not that He “needs us” but He desires us to worship Him, glorify Him, make Him known to the world in which we live in. Also, when thinking about it as a duty, do not think of it as work or a menial task, something taken lightly, that would be sinful and disdainful towards God. Rather look at you as the adopted child of God that you are, you have been called to work in the King’s court and all of duties assigned to the King’s servants are of great importance and God honoring; both to God’s glory as well as the child of God’s daily living and survival as well. Sometimes spending a lot of time in the presence and glory of  God, is known as the Shekinah glory.

https://www.gotquestions.org/shekinah-glory.html

Now some of you who know me might think I am off my rocker and have switched to the word of faith movement, I assure you, I have not, and the link above clearly spells out what I mean by God’s shekinah glory. People who spend a great deal of time with God show evidence of it, not necessarily because they talk a good Christian walk, but because you can see they spend time in the Word of God often and you see what the Bible calls the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

So again, the opening quote speaks of the two what I would consider the most important duty of new as well as seasoned Christians, and that is prayer and meditation, and both of these need serious and humble attention if one truly wants to do God’s will. One of the jokes I have heard is “God gave man one mouth and two ears for a reason… To listen twice as much as he talks!” and there is A LOT of truth to that saying. Now I will leave the praying part up to you, but will give this one suggestion, don’t go to God with a laundry list of what you need, for He already knows the all situations in your life, and secondly, don’t try playing “Let’s make a deal”. But do talk to Him as your Father who has great care for you and your life, pour out your heart, cry your tears of sincerity, for He again knows. The part we are going to focus on the next two weeks is meditation (remember, listening) to what God is telling us. Here is the plan and the breakdown I am planning on using and comes from a section of the wonderful book by Puritan Pastor and writer Thomas Watson titled “The Saints Spiritual Delight” and you can either download a copy or read it for free over at Monergism books, a GREAT site for solid Christian writings and teachings. So Thomas Watson speaks in great detail the importance of meditation and what we should be focused on all the time, and that is God the Father, Christ the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

He starts out by saying “the subject-matter of meditation: what a Christian should meditate upon. I am now entered on a large field, but I will only glance at things; I will only do as the disciples did: pluck some ears of corn as I pass along. Some may say, Alas, I am so barren I do not know what to meditate upon. To help Christians therefore in this blessed work, I will show you some choice select matter for meditation. There are fifteen things in the law of God which we should principally meditate upon.” Here are the devotional / lessons for the next two weeks at least.

  1. ) Meditate on God’s attributes
    a) Meditate on the Holiness of God
    b) Meditate on the wisdom of God
    c) Meditate on the power of God
    d) Meditate on the mercy of God
    e) Meditate on the truth of God

  2. ) Meditate on the promises of God
    a) The promises of remission
    b) The promises of santification
    c) The promises of renumeration

  3. ) Meditate upon the love of Christ.
    a) It would make us love Him again
    b) It would cause out eyes to flow with tears for our Gospel unkindness
    c) It would make us love our enemies
    d) It woule be a means to support us in the case of Christ’s absence

  4. ) Meditate upon sin
    a) Meditate on the guilt of sin
    b) Meditate on the curse of sin

  5. ) Meditate on the vanity of the creature

  6. ) Meditate on the excellence of grace
    a) Grace is precious in itself
    b) Grace makes us precious to God
    c) Grace is the best blessing

  7. ) Meditate upon your spiritual estate
    a) Meditate about your debts
    b) Meditate about your will
    c) Meditate about your evidences

  8. ) Meditate upon the small number of those who will be saved

  9. ) Meditate upon final apostasy

  10. ) Meditate upon death
    a) Meditate on the certanity of death
    b) Meditate on the proximity of death
    c) Meditate on the unvertanity of the time
    d) Think seriously that dying is done but once

  11. ) Meditate upon the day of judgment
    a) Meditate on the solemnity of this trial
    b) Meditate on the universality of this trial
    c) Meditate on the impartiality of the trial
    d) Meditate on the exactness of the trial
    e) Meditate on the outcome and consequence of this trial

  12. ) Meditate upon hell
    a) Meditate on the pain of loss
    b) Meditate on the pain of sense

  13. 13) Meditate upon heaven

  14. ) Meditate upon eternity
    a) Meditate on eternal punishment
    b) Meditate on eternal life

  15. ) Meditate on your experiences
    a) Has God not provided liberally for you
    b) Has not God prevented many dangers
    c) Has not God spared you a long time
    d) Has not God often come in with assisting grace
    e) Has not God vanquished Satan for you
    f) Have you not had many remarkable deliverances

It is going to be kind of a lengthy, yet very profitable journey, one of which I am excited and yet nervous at the same time. I do not know about you, but times of growth are great for me, but sometimes can be painful too. For their may be sins that we have not discovered about ourselves or have covered for a long period time that rotten flesh has covered and needs to salve of the Gospel to properly heal. So I hope you will be sure to check back each day for the journey and growth in learning about true Christian meditation and the importance of this God given duty!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

Wicked people will not seek after God, that is, will not call upon him. They live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many objects and devices, but think not of the Lord in any of them; they have no submission to his will, nor aim for his glory.

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Psalm 10:1-10

Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.

Have you ever imagine what your life would not be like had you not ever known God, that there was such a person, creator, sustainer of all life? Well, many do daily without even realizing it, and not just people who do not believe their is a God, but so called Christians! Look at the opening quote by Matthew Henry and think of how many times it can be proven true that we live a life without God! We have thoughts, objects and devices that have none of the Lord in them! Does this truth hurt you? I am crushed and gives me much to reflect upon and cry out to be changed from my sinful ways!

But let’s go back to something simple for a moment. Let’s talk about true unbelievers in God. People who say He does not exist, or He did not create, or He does not sustain. Let’s think for a moment if God was not immutable (meaning He could change) and decided to say “You know, creation just isn’t worth it anymore. I am tired of trying, things aren’t working out they way I anticipated”, you know, negative stuff like we do all the time. So slowly God started to withdrawal His common grace. One day healthy people could no longer get out of bed, because God no longer sustained. Shortly after that, God turned out the sun, and all we had was our own fires burning to keep warm and give little light. Lastly, God turned off His air, that’s right, HIS! People would be dropping like flies in mere seconds! That’s just a small taste of what life would be like without God. Not only do we cheapen His saving grace, but we take for granted every day His common grace. We do not give thanks as we should that He does care about us, sustains, and especially loves us.

If you and I read 1 Timothy 6:8, can this be said of us? But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

What about Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Again, look back at the quote to show us again how more true these words are today than the day the were penned! “They have MANY thoughts, MANY objects and devices, but THINK NOT in the Lord in any of them; THEY HAVE NO SUBMISSION TO HIS WILL, NOR AIM FOR HIS GLORY!” 

Dear reader, if this does not speak to our flesh and show us even the minutest of our sins against God and prove we too are like the gentiles, the heathens, the God haters and deniers, are dare say one would be stone cold dead spiritually!

However, glory be to God! In that He IS IMMUTEABLE, He DOES NOT give up on His creation, He IS VERY gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and holds back the wrath we so deserve. Yet, there will come a day, and possibly sooner than we think or expect, and the God haters who lived like their was no God, they were their own gods, followed their own will, beat their own drum, and will no longer be anything more. Is that person you?

When you daily go our into the world, try perceiving in yourself what the world sees. Think before you speak or react, make sure you are being kind, patient, compassionate, loving, encouraging, or are you like one of the lights above in our picture? Unchanged, have not been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus, tired of doing things your way, juggling everything day to day, filled with fear, worry, doubt, etc. Then may I encourage you to go to Him in prayer, go confess your sins and shortcomings that your burdens may be lifted. Confess with your mouth that you have been on the wide road to destruction for far too long, been a prodigal, need to be cleaned up again. He already knows! Go back while their is still grace and mercy, and this time cling! Cling like there is nothing better this world has to offer. Cling as your life (your eternity does) depends on it. Ask God to teach you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and how to love your neighbor as yourself. These things bring glory to God, and please Him when we are utterly and fully dependent on Him in ALL things.

If you are still having doubts that you have not sinned in this manner, let me leave you with this one more dire warning in the scriptures.

Walking in the light
1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Do you live with God, for the glory of God alone? Or do you live without God and for your own glory? Better fully determine that now while His grace still shines upon thee!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:1-3

The Prophet Habakkuk

I have written these past few days on Psalm 1, and spoken of both the blessed person and that who is wicked. This morning as I was reading some commentary on Psalm 1, I came across some interesting points to help drive these points home, and hopefully give you, the reader, some things to ponder for your own walk with God. We are going to look at two different viewpoints from two different prophets, Habakkuk mentioned in the opening quote, and from Elijah in 1 Kings. I will use Habakkuk to set the stage and Elijah and Psalm 1 to bring it all together.

Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it.

Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where. (Taken from Bible.org – https://bible.org/seriespage/8-habakkuk)

Here is also an outline we can use as we read for ourselves the Book of Habakkuk.


Title (1:1)

Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)

God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)

God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)

Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)
(https://www.biblestudytools.com/habakkuk/)

So how does all of this matter between the Book of Habakkuk, Elijah, and Psalm 1? Patience dear reader, patience!

So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” – 1 Kings 18:42-22

Two things I would like to point out in these verses in 1 Kings. The first being at the end of verse 42 “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.”

Not only did this prophet know what it took to be alone and away from the world and the problems therein, but Christ Himself, the GREAT Prophet, Priest, and King do likewise. Many times He would seek to get away to be with and commune with His Father (and ours who are truly saved), should we not be doing likewise if we are following Christ? The prophet Elijah also submits himself humbly. Not only did he bow his knees, but put his face between his knees. Could it be that he was so ashamed of his sins and that of his countrymen Israel? If so, when we seek God, should it not be the same for us, that we humbly submit and not hide our sins, rather our faces from He who is Holy?

The other part I want us to see and mediate upon is that at the end of verse 43 and the first part of verse 44 “And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

It has been said that at times, the number 7 mentioned in the Bible is referenced as that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness by means of the number 7, and I do believe this one of those times that God used Elijah to teach his servant how to look for God, wait on God, and that things happen in God’s timing.

Okay, great! So how does all pertain to Psalm 1?

Well, as we saw the past couple of days the compare and contrast of the blessed man and the evil man, we can conclude the following. The blessed man knows God for that is from whom all blessings flow, and he desires to spend all his time with God, not because of worldly blessings, but spiritual, whereas the wicked man is not interested at all in the things of God, but the things of the world are his false god.

2) In both Habakkuk and 1 Kings, we see there are times of properly questioning God, seeking His will and wisdom in what is going on in His creation, and waiting on His timing in all things, especially when it comes to; reading, knowing, and understanding His Word.

Let us learn from these two prophets and see what it means to truly be blessed by God! Are there times of struggle, doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, regret, etc. You bet!! But I dare say it is because we do not know God, trust God, spend much time with God, pray to God, etc. For it is these doings that bring peace by God, through God, and for our comfort. So the question still remains, are you spending time with God during these difficult times in the world today, or do we start out in frustration like Habakkuk did? Thankfully there is daily grace and mercy, that we can turn from our doubts and fears because of the world, and trust God, who is Sovereignly in control.

#ToGodBeTheGlory