Addendum 1, Meditation

Meditation: The Power of God’s Word in Your Life
Doug Floyd Matthew 22:14 - “For many are invited but few are chosen.” 95% of the population will live and die in the status quo. They won’t strive to achieve life goals. They will simply survive. 5% take hold of life and “seize the day.” “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Psalm 1) The world is saturated with death. Evil has corrupted the way of life and distorted God’s calling upon humans. The pattern of this world is the pattern of death. By death I mean that it takes life from us but fails to give us life. Just by venturing out into the world a person’s very life is drained and depleted. There are two paths in life. One is narrow and one is wide. The wide one is wide because it requires no special action to get on. It is the passive road. It is the road where I let life happen to me. The end of this road is death. In the past, we have pointed to this road as a path where vile sins occur: drunkenness, perversions, etc. And certainly all forms of wickedness are scattered along this road. But this road is also crowded with many good people who let life happen to them and fail to touch God’s life. There are those whose destiny is set for heaven but they walk on this path while on earth and fail to enjoy what God has provided for them in this life. Along this path of passivity, I find the counsel of the wicked, the way of the sinners, and the seat of the mockers. The counsel of the wicked is contrary to God’s counsel. It revolves around self. It is bad thinking. Turn on the TV most any day, and you’ll hear the counsel of the wicked. What do the wicked say? “Life is hopeless, meaningless.” “You’ll never make it.” “Give up.” “Save face.” “Don’t look like a fool.” “Don’t ever take any chance.”
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 11-

Addendum 1, Meditation

The counsel of the wicked is rooted in worry, fear, selfishness, lust. It is looking at the world from a perspective of the fallen human mind, a mind saturated in unbelief. Dark spiritual forces thrive in this type of thinking and acting. If I listen to enough counsel, I stop moving toward the kingdom of God. I start believing the lies. Depression, fear, and hopelessness begin to devour my thoughts. I quit moving. I stand in the way of sinners. This inaction makes action seem even more difficult. My spiritual muscles atrophy. I grow weak. I grow angry at God. I become critical of everyone around me. I resent the “hand” that life has dealt me. I sit down in the seat of the mockers. Bitterness consumes me. The desert swallows me—just like the sons of Korah. Many people follow the same pattern in life. First lies begin to make them question life. Then they stop moving and their life begins to slip away. Soon they are too weak to move, so they sit, complain, and die. Peter quotes Isaiah and says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (I Peter 1:24-25) We live in a fallen world. Each day we all listen to thousands of defeated, faithless words. Without the word of the Lord, we will wither and fall. We must train our minds to resist the death of this world. Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 The psalmist says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1) This person is blessed because they learned the power of meditating on God’s word. They discovered that God’s word will stand forever. They realize that God’s word will retrain their thought life and bring them into contact with the very life of God. If we can learn to meditate upon God’s word, we will renew our spirit and experience the very power of God. So how do we meditate upon God’s word?

What is God’s Word?
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 12-

Addendum 1, Meditation

First we must understand what is the word of God. Listen to what Jesus tells the Pharisees: “You have never heard (my Father’s) voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe in the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:37-40). They diligently searched the scriptures but God’s Word did not dwell in them. Why? Unbelief. Simply studying the scriptures is not encountering the Word of God. The Scriptures are a vehicle through which the Spirit of God can speak to me. I read the bible with faith in the Lord. As I read the Bible, the Spirit of God speaks the Word of God to my heart and my faith grows. So when we come to read the Bible, we come in faith the God will speak to us. We come to listen. This is the first step in understanding meditation. A.W. Tozer said that a book should be a springboard to thought. The Bible should be a springboard to hearing God. I do not come to build an argument against someone else, to prove my point, or to develop my knowledge. I come to hear God. My motive must be right and my faith must be in God not in my own mind. What is Meditation? Meditation brings together prayer and the Word of God. There are many facets to meditation. Meditation is a way of listening to God’s voice. It is a direct encounter with God through His word. His spoken word will never contradict his written word. (I talk about this more later.) Let’s back up for one minute and consider the outworking of God’s grace in our lives. Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). The very essence of Christianity is faith, hope, and love. Again Paul says, “(W)e have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Colossians 1:4-5) Hope produces Faith which manifests in Love. Joshua developed hope in the tent of meeting. Hope looks into heaven and sees the world from God’s perspective. When I grasp the awesomeness of God. When I sense his plan for my life. When I feel the presence of His love. Hope begins to burn deep in my soul. Hope tells me that God is good. God has a plan for me. God has the power to make that plan work in my life. Above all else, hope tells me that God loves me. When I begin to face the unconquerable love of God, faith begins to grow in my heart. When I grasp that hope stored for me in heaven, faith and love spring out of my heart. I believe God. I trust Him. This trust, this belief, this faith always manifests in my life through love. Paul says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Love seeks the will of the Father above all else. When I reach love, Jesus says that I can ask the Father for anything and it will be granted. In another place He says, “Seek yea first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 13-

Addendum 1, Meditation

Now my thought patterns change. I no longer think about the limitation of this world, I think about the unlimited power of my God. I no longer dwell in cynicism, bitterness, and depression, but all my thoughts are taken captive for Christ. The Father’s will becomes supreme in my life and the resurrection power of God is released to me. My character is transformed. My actions change. I change everything I touch. This transformation is a process. We cannot force growth. It may take years to transform my mind. But He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion. Why does it take years? Our minds have recorded everything we’ve ever experienced or thought. Whether I consciously try to seek discouraging thoughts or not, I will be constantly bombarded with them. The whole pattern of this world is rooted in unbelief. The whole pattern of this world disregards the Father in light of Self. My mind has recorded all these experiences and has even developed automatic responses in certain situations. Dennis Waitley compares this to a robot. He says our will is like Mr. Judge and our Subconscious mind is like Mr. Robot. Mr. Judge goes to make a decision, but first must clear it with the Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot researches the decision and provides key facts for the decision. Mr. Judge then responds according to those facts. The problem is Mr. Robot is not very accurate. He filters everything that could be a distraction. As a result, he often filters important information (based on previous experiences). Thus Mr. Judge often makes poor decisions. Thus we become trapped in patterns of unhealthy thinking and acting. The only way to improve our decisions and actions is to reprogram Mr. Robot. But without Christ, we may develop positive thought patterns but totally self centered. We will experience more success in the natural. But our spiritual lives will continue to sag. Thus we train our minds with the Word of God. We learn to meditate upon God’s word day and night. This discipline will affect every aspect of the rest of our lives. We can know the importance of meditation upon God’s word, yet never experience it. We must know beyond knowledge. We must train out minds to meditate upon the Word of God. He will renew our minds and transform us through His presence. Meditation is Encountering God Richard Foster says “meditation is encountering God by listening to His word, rehearsing His deeds, reflecting on His word, and obeying His command.” Meditation is a process of focusing my thoughts upon the Lord and opening my spirit to him. The term Meditation is used throughout the Old Testament, so I thought it would be interesting to hear what Jewish scholars have to say about Meditation. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan says, “In the classical English translation of the Bible, the word “meditate” or “meditation” occurs seventeen times. Looking back at the original Hebrew, we find that in every one of these cases, one of two words is used, either Siyach or Hagah.”
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 14-

Addendum 1, Meditation

Hagah refers to the process of focusing my spirit upon God. It has connotations of using many motions to achieve one goal. These motions may involve physical actions, thought, sound, and speech. It is a process of purifying or clearing the mind to direct it heavenward. Plato likens this process to steering a ship. Kaplan says: “The human mind is very much like the steering of a ship where the sailors have mutinied and have locked the captain and navigator in the cabin. Each sailor believes himself free to steer the ship as he pleases. First one sailor, and then another, take over the helm, while the ship travels on a random erratic course. . . . The task of the individual is to quell this mutiny and release the navigator and the captain.” So Hagah-meditation is meant to provide the mind with a rudder and helm, so that it no longer drifts aimlessly in the sea of thought. In one sense, Hagah refers to repeating something over and over. We see this in the psalms. An idea is often repeated over and over. It also involves focusing upon the works of God. Once again the Psalmist demonstrates this practice over and over by recounting the works of God. Sometimes it involves proclaiming God’s attributes or listing his names. Music also plays a role in Hagah. Therefore it could be likened to worship. Where the seeker proclaims the goodness of the Lord and moves into the presence of the Lord. Kaplan says that Hagah may prepare the mind to enter into Siyach-meditation. Siyach focuses upon one idea. It revolves the idea around looking at it from all sides. Siyach indicates floating or ascending into God’s presence. Here prayer or prophecy occurs. The person becomes centered in their own spirit and thus can listen to God’s spirit. Foster is quick to point out that meditation touches the very ordinary in life as well as reaching heights of ecstasy. When we meditate, we position ourselves to hear very practical things about our behavior and specific problems we may be facing in life. But we also position ourselves to touch the very life and power of God. Sometimes the Spirit of God will tangibly reveal himself to us in meditation and his presence will be awesome. We do not try to make these experiences happen but we leave room for God to reveal himself as he chooses. Practically, meditation is the process of working with the Holy Spirit to enter into God’s presence. We trust the spirit to guide us into God’s presence and impart to us what we need. How Do We Meditate? All of us have meditated upon God’s word in the past. We may not have used that term but we’ve still followed the process. There are different methods of meditation, but I’ll just cover the outer edge. The initial steps. 1. The first step in meditation is committing ourselves to doing it. We should commit to meditate upon God’s word daily. In the beginning we may only commit to a short time period, but consistent meditation is essential for counteracting the unbelief of this world. 2. Meditation centers on experience God’s presence through the written word, nature, books, and personal/public events. We learn to meditate by focusing on God’s written word. These other elements can be used to complement the primary means.
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 15-

Addendum 1, Meditation

3. Meditation is also a process of soaking God’s word into my very thought processes. Which means I dwell upon a similar thought or passage over and over and over until it becomes a way of thinking. 4. We begin by centering our hearts on Christ. Whatever distractions or problems we are facing, we give those to God. Even if it is temporary. We may say, “God please take these burdens from me for the next few minutes so I can seek your face. Eventually I hope to let go of them permanently.” 5. We may use music, solitude, the reading the psalms as tools to help us focus on God. 5. We begin in prayer, asking God to speak to us through His word. Asking him to breathe new life into us. 6. Then we take a passage of Scripture and read it. We think about it. We listen to it. We may analyze it. Playing with it over and over in our mind. I have noted question marks in my Bible for months and sometimes even years, and whenever I came to them I played with them in my mind trying to hear what God was saying there. It may not always hit us. Sometimes in the midst of Meditation we don’t feel spiritual. We don’t feel God’s presence. But we press forward in faith. We are laying this word deep into our heart. Sometimes long after we have consciously forgotten the word, the Holy Spirit will bring back to mind and breath upon it. Once I was on a retreat. I got up early (about 6 a.m.) to read the Bible. As I was walking outside I met a couple other guys on their way to pray and read. We all went to the gym. After reading my Proverb for the day I was through. But the other guys were still sitting their. I couldn’t seem unspiritual by getting up and walking out. So I read Proverbs chapter 2 again. And again. And again. I’m not sure how many times I read it, but I just kept reading it over and over. All of the sudden it seemed to leap off the page. The Lord began speaking His word to my heart. It became real and applicable to my life. It went beyond just instruction to specific direction in my life. That one experience changed my whole approach to reading God’s Word. I learned to listen and reread and reread and listen. Every time I read, I don’t always have the same dynamic experience, but sometimes I do. And those experiences have deeply affected my life. These same ideas can be applied to meditation upon creation, books, and events. In my own walk, meditation upon creation has been a key to understanding God. Once when I felt far from God’s presence, I was sitting in a park overlooking the lake expressing my frustration to God. I watched the sunrise. As I watched the sun I began to think about it. The Lord spoke to me, and said, “I am like the sun. Sometimes you visibly see it and sometimes you don’t. But when it’s night you’re not afraid that the sun has disappeared permanently. You trust the sun to rise again. Learn to trust me in that same way. Sometimes my presence will seem close and shining. Sometimes you will feel in the dark. But remember, I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6. As we develop a lifestyle of meditation, it is important to take notes. Keep a record of our struggles to understand the word, to hear the Lord. This will be quite valuable for us over time.
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 16-

Addendum 1, Meditation

It can help us recognize when we clearly discerned the word of the Lord and when we completely missed. It also gives a point of reference for future meditation. Over time we can take a word that God has spoken to us in the past and reflect on it. To pause and calmly think about it. Sometimes a renewed insight will hit us. Other times the initial truth may hit us with such impact, that we hear afresh the word of the Lord. Ultimately, meditation is a habit. A way of being. Just like eating. Our body tells us when to eat. So our spirit will begin to crave the word of the Lord. And we will come to eat again and again. 7. Another aspect of meditating is reading or reciting the word aloud. We confess it or pray it and repeat it. If a phrase stands out, we may repeat it again and again. Gradually, new words may come. Variations of the scripture we are proclaiming. We yield to these words of the Spirit, which meld the word of scripture with the word in our heart. Many times the Spirit will use such forms to speak to us.

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 17-