SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES:INTRODUCTION and MEDITATION

    INTRODUCTION

So we begin our series on Spiritual Disciplines. I hope you have had a chance to view the video below this post. It begins with my sincere lament that I wish I had a penny for every person that has told me how they wanted to BE more like Christ but then did not follow through. Distraction was never minimized to the degree necessary to engage the Master.

Having a rule for life that consistently involves the use of spiritual practices in our life is not an add-on to being a Christian. It is the life of a Christian. It was the life of Jesus as He walked this Earth. To such an extent that if we would cut out all the places in the New Testament where we saw Jesus engaged in a discipline we would lose a good quarter of the text.

So why as the church are so few us engaged in living a Christian life? Again may I say church leaders its time to become radically intentional with your sheep. Teach on the disciplines then provide opportunities for engagement, offer encouragement for their movement towards the Biblical Christian life. One necessary step is to conduct worship services that consist of disciplines they can engage in during the service. It is time to honestly evaluate how effective a weekly Sunday message is to moving your people towards Christlikeness. In all due respect they need Christ not you and longer you continue to bloviate history from the pulpit just keeps them longer from rubbing elbows with Christ who they need. Again if you as leader have very little experience with spiritual disciplines this will be very difficult for you to do. So your first step is to slow down and hook up with Jesus through the way He showed us in the Scriptures. If we can be a resource for you in this endeavor please let us know.

I could go on for pages on the mandatory and Biblical aspects of radically embracing the Trinity through the spiritual disciplines to have a normal Christian life but I think by talking with you through the practical applications will be most beneficial.

Why the zeal for us to live the normal Christian life? So we can boast about our maturity? NO! We as the church need to move towards the life Christ showed us because we need to reposition ourselves to move with Him and only with Him and we need to restore the reputation of Christ to the culture. These critical needs in our world can only be accomplished as Christ showed us by being humble, by being intentional about our inner transformation, aware and receptive to the constant Trinitarian presence and obedient to Christ.

    MEDITATION

Richard Foster defines meditation as the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word.
Over the past decade I began to notice as I sat in church two days a week that on Sunday we had teaching series A and on Wednesday nights we had teaching series B. Then the following week on to a new A and a new B and on and on it went. Week 1 Sunday was distracted by week 1 Wed. Then it got even crazier as the days and weeks go on and on piling up till I barely could even remember what verse was being taught let alone allow it to impact me to a level of transforming obedience. We can do better than that for our sheep church!

Another process in the so called Christian life is attempting to read the Bible in one year. I tried that also years ago. For me it became quite legalistic and totally non transforming. It’s like an assignment one must do. The focus becomes accomplishing a goal period.

Meditation is totally unlike both practices within the Christian life that sadly persist to this day. Meditation leads to transformation.

Let me give you some hard evidence that demands a verdict from my own life. If you were to scroll down on this blog you would see a series on the Character of Christ with three installments. One on Integrity, one on Compassion and one on Humility. All are transforming products of Meditation.

    EXHIBIT 1

On Integrity there are two verses Psalm 25:21 and 41:12. As the blog states I was on a day long retreat and God’s voice spoke to me concerning Integrity. He then took me to those two verses. I read just those two verses for six hours and the rest of the blog is the abundance He gave me through meditation. During that time with those Psalms I also did several other things. I listened to God’s Word, I reflected on God’s works in this case PROTECTION and PRESENCE and in the same context rehearsed God’s deeds. I reviewed my integrity issues repented and moved forward in obedience. TRANSFORMATION!

    EXHIBIT 2

With the Compassion blog it was Luke 18:35-43. It started with a lectio divina session and went on for two more days. reading and studying only this passage from Luke. This culminated with hearing God’s voice at 3am in regard to the people He sees in His church today. I believe if I had not ruminated on this passage for the time I did I would of missed His prophetic word for the church today. His Spirit kept me in Luke for the time necessary for me to reposition my life with His in this regard. Personal repentance and obedience followed this encounter. TRANSFORMATION!

EXHIBIT 3

The Humility piece came from Philippans 2:6-8a.  Now most people start that passage and read it till the end. I could not get past v. 8a. He kept me there for several hours. In retrospect I needed to again listen, reflect, and rehearse on God’s deeds and works in that passage alone. If I would have gone on I would of been distracted away from the humble birth to the death on the cross. This is a great example of how God works with His word and meditation.  I can even remember wanting to push forward to verse 8b but being very clearly told to stop at 8a. The result is the content you see in the blog. Again repentance and obedience in terms of turning away even more from external happiness was my result. In turn I for one had a very humble and meaningful Christmas. TRANSFORMATION.

In hopes you have stayed with this blog till the end I want to finish up now by offering you an application point.  One for the church individually and one for the church corporately.

INDIVIDUALLY:

In Colossians 3:2 Paul writes that we are to set are minds on things above. Take this verse and meditate on it for at least an hour. A question to get you going would be: ” What are things that come from above that could be incorporated in your life for transformation”.  If you wish to go elsewhere in the Scriptures that is fine.

CORPORATELY:

Dedicate an entire worship service to your congregation meditating on a supplied verse or verses. Provide time for interaction in small groups or congregation wide open mic.

We look forward to hearing from you and your meditation experiences.

georgea

6 thoughts on “SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES:INTRODUCTION and MEDITATION

  • January 4, 2010 at 8:17 am
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    WOW! Richard Foster’s definition of “Meditation” blows me away! “The ability to Hear God’s voice AND obey His word” Its the conjunction “and” that combines listening to God with obedience which is the challenge. What a precept!

    This is really RADICAL stuff! No wonder the modern church largely misses the mark. The modern church literally caters to consumer Christianity.Its less demanding! A sort of Microwave Christianity. Thirty seconds–and puff instant spiritual maturity! It takes more effort, time and a re prioritizing of life’s activities to live as Jesus did. You may become an odd fit in the modern world–sort of like still watching black and while TV.

    My personal experience has been that “listening” to God requires a lot of “solitude” before God with Holy Scripture open. A humble heart is developed in God’s holy presence. This often leads me to time of repentance (often confessing my neglect and time wasted on trivial things) and then on to times of unspeakable Joy in His presence.

    Jesus only promises “streams of living water” and becoming the “bread of life” IF we follow Him. One of the epiphany’s in my spiritual life came when reading and re reading over and over John 5:19. I just can’t get over what it states–that Jesus was totally obedient to His Father and was dependent on His Father for EVERYTHING He accomplished on earth(paraphrase). This single passage convicted me to the very depths of my soul.

    How can I accomplish anything of eternal significance any other way if Jesus Himself couldn’t? This one passage continues to resonate loudly within my soul to this day! By God’s mercy and help meditation led to the better way to serve God (spiritual transformation). I shutter to think what my spiritual condition would look like today without going through the effort to meditate on John 5.

    Terry

  • January 15, 2010 at 11:22 am
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    I have been on this planet for the 39+ years and have spent the better part of those in and out of different churches, but not until I went through the Spiritual Discipline of Confession did I realize how truly broken I am. It is easy to sit in church or even read through the Word and apply the “I’m not as bad as the other guy” logic to it. IT IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT when the MASTER shows you how fallen you really are. Once you come to grips with that fact and you truly realize that you are nothing apart from Him obedience comes to the forefront of your thought process.

    How can you NOT want to please your Father? Everything done outside of His will hurts Him deeply. It hurts Him so much that he Came down here and showed us how to live within His will. It is possible here on earth to get very close to being like Jesus, but it does take time and effort on your part. He will not accept a heart that is not dedicated to Him. Life as an apprentice means that you have to show up daily, you have to die daily, you have to spend time listening, reading, learning from the One who is worth the effort.

    John 3:21 “But whoever does what is true “comes to the Light””. It requires action. It requires the Spiritual disciplines. If the journey with God occupies all of your heart and mind how can Satan control you. These Disciplines are truly necessary for Transformation.

    They are the Creator’s instruction manual for a healthy and righteous soul.

    Jim

  • January 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm
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    My transformation actually took place when I first believed that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. My meditation from that point on has consisted of prayer and reading scripture. Hearing God through his word and asking direction through prayer have helped me to better understand his will. Putting his will into action is how I try to live my life daily. So, I see regular meditative prayer and scripture reading to be critical in the Christian life. Without which one cannot be all that they can be for Christ. As we are the Church, I think it is up to each one of us to ensure these disciplines remain in the forefront of whatever local Church we attend.

    Craig

  • January 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm
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    I took your suggestion and have been dwelling on Philippians 2:7a, which in the NIV says “…but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” I read it in my Interlinear Bible, too, and there it’s rendered “He poured Himself out, taking the form of a slave.” Having that nugget in the back of my mind for the last few days has really helped me see people and situations differently.

    Vicki

  • January 21, 2010 at 7:06 am
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    Vicki: Good to hear you dipped your feet in the living water of His Word and stayed there for a nice relaxing time.

    Interested in hearing more?

    georgea

  • December 4, 2011 at 3:45 am
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    Truly good site thank you so much for your time in publishing the posts for all of us to learn about.

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