Open your Bibles to Psalm 1.
We’re in a series titled Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Our key verse is
Godliness is not only beneficial in this life, but how we live affects our eternal life with God. We train ourselves for Godliness through Spiritual Disciplines. And these disciplines are the means in which we build our lives around Jesus. And that really is the goal – to live a Godly, Christ-centered life – knowing that how I live in this world has bearing in the next.
One of the disciplines is Bible Intake (which we started last week). The consumption of God's Word is paramount to live the Christian life. The Christian cannot live as a true disciple of Christ apart from God’s Word. Jesus makes that clear in Matthew 4:4 ESV But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
It's like being a doctor. You can't be a true doctor apart from studying anatomy, medicine etc. And it’s not just a one-time deal – it is a continuous study of the medical sciences. If that’s true for a doctor, what makes the Christian think they can live as a Christian without the continuous study of God’s Word?
I want to clarify something from last week. Last week I asked if this was the inspired Word of God. The answer is yes and no. Is this the inspired Word? Absolutely. This Bible is the Word of God. It is trustworthy, it is true, it is reliable.
Now the "no" part is in reference to the English translation. What I meant to convey was this – that the English translation, or any translation is not the standard? The Hebrew and Greek texts which the Bible was originally in, are the standard by which all other translations must conform. Hope that makes better sense – if not, come chat with me.
Back to the consumption of God’s Word. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Bible often sits idle on a shelf or coffee table, is because we've been told that Christians pray and read their Bibles. We hear this everywhere. So we read the Bible, not much happens, not a lot of change and so we're like - what's the point and we give up.
What’s the problem? Is it us? That we’re not spiritual enough or smart enough? Is it that we’re lazy (for some, that’s true, because it requires work). But for many Christians, the problem is not the person, but the method.
Reading the Bible is good and necessary, but the Bible was never meant to be just read. It’s not a newspaper or textbook and we can’t read it as such. We read newspapers and textbooks for what? Information.
Q - Why do we read the Bible? Many read for information. How to fix a marriage. How to find God’s will. How to comfort someone. So we treat it as a ‘how to’ manual. Those are benefits of reading Scripture, but that’s not why we read it.
What does that mean? What's this meditation? There are many passages we can look at, but this morning let's look at Psalm 1
The Book of Psalms, by the way, really is a song book. I’m not sure the writers had that in mind, initially, but over time it became a song book used in Jewish worship. Here's an interesting fact, Jesus mentions the Books of Psalms in Luke 20:42.
Now, I’m not going to do this Psalm justice this morning because the intent is to talk about Biblical meditation, and not so much the Psalm itself. So keep that in mind.
Now I just read that. Did that change anyone's life? Maybe, but probably not. Some people are initially changed by the reading of the Word – I get that, however, 99% of the time, Spiritual transformation comes from the application of what was read, and application comes from meditation. So let's meditate on this for a moment. I'll explain meditation a little later, but for now, follow me.
The first thing we see in verse 1 is "Blessed is the man." We have to ask ourselves some questions. What does blessed mean? How do I receive blessing? Where does this blessing come from? This is where study Bible come in hand.
The word 'blessed' in this passage means happy or happiness. Well, what does happy mean? A lot of us would agree that happiness is somewhat synonymous with being peaceful, or enjoyable or when I'm happy, it means “life is good.” When I'm in my happy place, that means I'm in my 'life is good' place.
How does one receive this happiness or 'life is good' place?
The author first gives us the negative. Here's how NOT to be happy. He says don't walk, stand or sit with the wicked, with sinners, or with scoffers. What does that mean?
In Scripture, to walk typically refers to what? How one lives and behaves. So how am I living? According to God’s counsel or according to the “wisdom” of godless people. Whose advice am I following?
Next it says don’t stand with sinners? Turn to your neighbor and say, “I don’t stand with sinners, but I’m sitting next to one.” So what does that mean? To stand means to stay put, it means to linger. Am I lingering too long with sinners? Meaning, am I hanging out with sinful influence too much?
Of course to sit is the next step in this downward spiral of moving away from God – meaning, I’ve become really comfortable with the advice from wicked and godless influence. As a matter fact, I’ve moved beyond being influenced, and now I find myself joining in mocking God, having contempt for God.
As we meditate on this, it should come clear that there is this progression from casual walking, to “hey, let’s stand and talk a while,” to let’s sit together …. And the next critical step of mediation is to turn this into prayer. “Lord, show me if I am walking, standing, sitting with ungodly influence.” And then use this as a catalyst to pray for others. “Lord, help so and so, they’re walking with ….”
“Blessed is the man …” – If I want to live in that “life is good” place, then I have to guard my life against sinful and wicked influence. HOWEVER, it doesn’t stop there, that was just the negative - what NOT to do. If I really want to experience the blessings of God, what must I do?
This is where I slightly switch gears from example to teaching (but it’s intermixed). So, if I want to know how to live a blessed life, and if I want to know how to engage God through His Word, two things must happen:
And, B) who ...
This is critical – because everything hinges on a Christians attitude toward Scripture and action with Scripture. Because your attitude toward God and actions as a Christian are directly related to your attitude with Scripture.
So let's talk about our ...
According to Whitney’s book, only 18 percent of Christians read the Bible every day. 23 percent say they never read the Bible. It's obvious the vast majority of those who claim to be Christian in America have a very poor attitude toward Scripture.
Why do I say that? Because attitude determines action. If we think Scripture is just a textbook or rule book, or as a collection of old stories that are irrelevant today, then we're not going to read it, study it, memorize it or meditate upon it. If our attitude toward Scripture is incorrect, then our action (and application) with Scripture will follow suit. And who suffers for it? Every one – saved and unsaved.
So what is the right attitude? We must understand what the Bible is and what is its purpose.
Who is behind the Scriptures? God. Jehovah! The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to us. Within these pages we discover who He is and how to relate to Him and to the world around us. Eugene Peterson (author of the Message) says this – God is relational; therefore, He is also personal. If God is relational and personal, then His Word is relational and personal. Therefore, we must read the Bible relationally - that God wants to personally tell us something.
That should be our attitude toward Scripture – God wrote this and God wants to talk to me today through His Word. Now, if my attitude toward Scripture is right, then I can apply the right action.
Blessed or happy is the person who does what? Meditates on the law. Mediation is the action.
How does one meditate? I already gave you an example earlier. But I also hope you read chapter 3, because the whole chapter is dedicated to various ways to meditate on Scripture.
But the bottom line is this - Biblical mediation is not an emptying of the mind like Eastern religions, nor is it passive. You don't sit on a mountain top, with your legs crossed and Bible open hoping that the wisdom of Scripture will soak into your body.
The word meditate itself in Scripture often means ...
To mutter means to speak out-loud or to ponder the words of God over and over and to say them or think them throughout the day (hence day and night). Mediation is not stooping over a Bible by candlelight into wee hours of the night. Mediation is seeing, saying and hearing repeatedly the Word of God until it takes root in the heart and mind. Then it becomes transformational – it becomes our bread, the foundation of our prayers - it becomes our way of life.
If you want to grow in your faith, in your relationship with Christ, if you want to become a disciple of Christ and live a transformed life - then you must have a right attitude toward Scripture, and with that the right action with Scripture.
But what's the payoff? We already mentioned one - there is a joy and peace and blessedness that only comes from knowing God - you will get it nowhere else in this world. But wait, there’s more - the man or woman of God - Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Well what does all that mean? Well, it's poetry. This is a metaphor, but it also conveys a promise. But you wont' get that if you just read. But if you meditate, linger around the passage, you'll understand that this is indeed a promise from God that there is indeed a payoff for the one who meditates on His Word.
Furthermore, the man or woman of God - verse 3
Anyone need a little more stability in your life?
Well what kind of tree? A tree planted ...
Anyone need a little more refreshing in life? Read Psalm 19. The man and woman of God who meditates on the Word will be like a tree ...
C) That yields its fruit in its season - be effective in this world, knowing and following the will of God, bearing fruit at the right time and in the right way
BTW - Who determines the right season? God. Need some more fruitfulness in life – meditate on the Word, and your
Where’s your life gauge? Dead or Alive? And lastly,
Means you’re going to make it. If you want to be successful – meditate on the Word.
What I your attitude toward Scripture? And what is your action with Scripture? Tomorrow morning, approach the Word of God relationally and personally.