Guest Author: Sara Holloway I had one of those ‘ah-hah!!!’ moments the other day. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to lead a discussion group (notice I didn’t say ‘teach a Bible study’) this past quarter. Our young ladies class has been working through “Knowing God’s Word” in the Women of Faith study guide series and we’ve made it to week 11 out of 12. The study has given us insight into the tools we need to go from merely reading the Bible for completion to actually studying and digging deeper by using cross-references, Bible references (like commentaries, dictionaries, and concordances), looking at various translations, reading for context, doing outlines and word studies, and searching for themes.
This week’s lesson was meant to take us from studying to meditating. What is the image you get when you hear the word “meditate.” I picture someone doing Yoga near a mountain stream in the warm sunshine with the scent of fresh flowers and pine needles, head completely cleared of any outside distraction. The word, for me, evokes more of a relaxed, reflective mood than one of intense study. The book had us look at many different verses, mostly in Psalms, that contain the word “meditate” or “meditation.” All of the verses pointed out the great things that can come from meditation (success and prosperity, gaining understanding, outward progress) and how much God is pleased by our meditation.
I decided to take it a step further. With each verse, I looked up the definition or synonyms in Vine’s Expository Dictionary. Here’s a list I compiled for what it means to “meditate”:
Utterance, musing, contemplate, whisper, murmuring,
prayer, commune, think, consider, judge, complain
None of these sound very passive or restful. They all require action. In fact, I didn’t come across the word reflect or rest. Not exactly the cultural image suggested by the word “meditates.”
Okay then, so how does one meditate? Well, that list is mostly verbs, so that’s a good place to start. The study also had us look up Philippians 4:8 that tells us to think on these: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, trustworthy, praiseworthy. Now we have a bunch of adjective. [ My mom the English teacher is cringing J.] So I thought, “Okay, we can start putting it all together.” We can contemplate things that are noble. We can pray about things that are pure. We can muse about things that are lovely and admirable.
The final verse the workbook wanted us to look up was 1st Timothy 4:15. “Meditate on these things, give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” This reminded me of a conversation I had with a good running friend of mine. We had decided that if we ran as much as we thought about, read about, or talked (blogged) about running, we would be in great shape! This verse is trying to say the same thing. If we were to be constantly thinking about God’s word, we would be in such awesome shape spiritually that the world couldn’t help but take notice- wouldn’t that be cool?
I wanted to learn a little more. The verse says “meditate on these things” – what things? Back up and read for context.
- Verse 12 gives us the WHAT: in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity
- Verse 12 and 13 gives us the HOW: be an example, give attention to reading, exhorting/edifying, and doctrine
- Verse 14 gives us the DON’T: neglect the gift that is in you
- Verse 15 tells us that meditating on these makes us outwardly spiritually fit.
- But the key is in verse 16. Sixteen gives us the all important WHY: “You will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
What better reason to devote time to meditation than to secure one’s own salvation and that of other believers? In Joshua 1:8, he is told to “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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.” Joshua was facing the armies of the Canaanites. We are facing the armies of Satan and the world. Like Joshua, our success will be measured in defeating the enemy, and our prosperity will be reaching the Promised Land. Meditating on God’s Word is the key to obtaining both.
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