Fundamentals of Meditation (Part 2. Things That Are True)
Although this is part of a series, it is a complete study on its own. (Part 1 of 9 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
As foundation for this article, I wrote the hub Christian Meditation vs. New Age Meditation, in which we spoke of meditating on the word of God and what that means in the light of the Scripture.The central elements of Christian meditation are highlighted in the Bible in Philippians 4:4-9:
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice . Let your moderation [gentleness NKJV] be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful [anxious NKJV] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally brethren whatsoever things are true , whatsoever things are honest , whatsoever things are just , whatsoever things are pure , whatsoever things are lovely , whatsoever things are of good report , if there be any virtue , and if there be any praise , think [meditate NKJV] on these things. Those things. which you have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do, and the God of peace shall be with you."
The Basic Truth Is...
Truth is a word that is bandied about these days, everyone feeling that their viewpoint is nearest that ideal. The problem with truth is, it's not a viewpoint nor is it an ideal. It is fact. It is a state of being. It is a Person. The funny thing about fact is no matter who utters fact, it is true. If a liar utters truth, the truth stands. If a liar says "Jump off the building and you'll go splat," even though he's a liar, he is now speaking truth. Truth cannot be changed by wishful thinking or good intentions; truth is not relative, it is constant.
How does one tell what truth is? What makes up truth? What makes truth change from truth into something else? How will meditating on truth bring about the blessings of this verse of Scripture and give a peace that passes all understanding? How does meditating on things that are true "keep our hearts and minds" or in other words how does it bring about mental stability?
In academia, students are taught that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Most people believe that if two people disagree on anything, the real truth (if there is such a thing) exists somewhere between the two viewpoints. To lay hold of something as absolute truth is thought to be foolhardy and ignorant. Then we Christians come along and have faith in a document that is thousands of years old and we call it inerrant (never having error) and infallible (incapable of failing). We call Scripture absolute truth. What grand claims we make, yet they are all true.
1. All Things True Start With Christ.
While standing in front of Pontius Pilate and being questioned about the charges brought against Him, Jesus and the Roman governor had this conversation:
"...your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are you a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth . Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:35-38)
I don't believe at this point the question was asked of Jesus in earnest because the Bible says as soon as he asked that question, he sent Him away. He may have wondered what the answer was, but just didn't believe Jesus had it. He may have thought that the very idea of truth is laughable. Many people do. But had he been serious about the answer, I think, Jesus would have given him the answer He gave to Thomas.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me . In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. And I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.' Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life . No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:1-6)
In other words Jesus said, (if I may paraphrase): "As long as you believe in Me I will take care of you. Believe in Me just like you believe in God. I have a home for you and you don't have to worry about the way to get there, just believe in Me. You don't have to worry about what others say is true, because I am truth. You don't have to worry what will come of your life because I am your Life and your life is in Me, I will take care of you." You all know that I am not the Holy Spirit to be rewriting Scripture, but I believe that this is an essence of what He was saying as He tried to comfort a bunch of disciples that were getting increasingly more uneasy about the way Jesus was talking.
There is so much in this statement of Jesus but what we pull out for our lesson here is that we can take comfort and great peace in the fact that Jesus is our truth. If we concentrate on Him, on His words, on His works, on His commands, and eliminate all others that would give another truth, we can't go wrong. As we meditate, ponder and muse this premise while we consider His words in an attitude of prayer, He gives us peace that passes understanding.
2. Jesus - The Truth Expressed In Words.
God created our minds to function in two realms. First, in words, and secondly, in pictures or to rephrase it, in thought-language and in mental vistas. The Creator Jesus knew how important words were to mankind. Have you ever become exasperated at someone and said, "Here, do I have to paint a picture for you?" Did you then take up a paintbrush and start painting? Probably not, but you could have, because pictures and explicit words are the reasoning of the human mind and heart. God intended the Bible to be an essential and specific picture painted just for you. The words empowered by the Holy Spirit are intended to paint a brand new vista in the mind's eye every time you hear it. After the emptying of sin at the throne of grace, a person is in a broken state. His mind is then a canvas on which the words of God can paint a picture. This picture is what we need right then to fight the spiritual battles we are facing in the here and now. We can meditate later on the same verses and they will paint a different picture because each day we face is a new battle.
When Jesus told Thomas, "I am the truth" He was using a word that means revealing or revelation . Knowing Thomas' burning desire was to know God, Jesus said to him, "I am the aletheia " (al-ay'-thi-a) gr. which means "revealing," so he was saying "I am the revealing" or "I am God revealed, know Me and you will know God."
When the apostle Paul said to meditate on "whatever things are true," that reference is the word alethes (al-ay-thace') gr. meaning genuine . It's root is formed in conjunction with another word lanthano (lan-than'-o) gr. which means concealed just beneath the surface. Paul was saying to meditate and muse about truths of God that would lie just beneath the surface of our mental vista. He was saying that we need to go a little deeper into God than we usually do, so that we may gain a greater understanding of our Savior. Instead of squishing God into our little mental box, try to think on things that are bigger about Him, things just under the surface of how we normally think. Not exactly imaginings, but truths hidden to casual glancing. Think deeply of God, His ways, His love and His truth.
3. The Emotional Makeup Of Meditating On Truth.
Here comes a concept not comfortable to everyone- We touched on it earlier but now we must cover the importance of emotions in meditation. An essential element of meditation is the brokenness that must happen to receive anything deeper of the Lord via His Holy Spirit. It adds the element of emotions to the mix. It is so comfortable to think in broad rational terms of the Lord without having to come to the end of oneself. We sit and say, "Okay God teach me something," We may sit for hours praying or singing or reciting Bible verses. But if we have not come to the end of ourselves and confessed the sins that would separate us from the fellowship that God wants desperately to have with us, that fellowship will not happen.
"If I regard sin in my heart, the Lord will not hear." (Psalm 66:18)
"But your iniquities have separated you from your Lord." (Isaiah 59:2)
"And there is no one that calls on your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities." (Isaiah 64:7)
We men and many, many women hate to cry, to be weak in any way. Perhaps we have had a childhood where we were told never to show a weakness to anyone. Perhaps it's a lesson burned into our brain by bullies, and other sources of pain, never let 'em see you sweat, never let 'em see you cry. But God requires that we feed on His strength and not of our own. To meditate requires that we be honestly broken before God and that requires trust. "I trust God!" you may say with conviction. Really? Do you trust Him enough to be totally honest even to the revealing of weaknesses that you admit to no one else? or do you just "not go there" because it opens up the flood-waters of emotions and weaknesses? Do you trust God when He says that He "shall keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus?"
Reasons People Use To Avoid Brokenness:
"I hate to lose control ,"
God requires that we put all control in His hands.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I live now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (1 Corinthians 2:20)
"I don't like weakness,"
"I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:3-5)
By faith they "...quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle..." (Hebrews 11:34)
"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Understand, when we are thinking we are in a position of strength that we are in severe danger. The John Wayne characteristic of standing alone applies to standing tall in the world, one man against the world for God, It does not, however, mean you are standing in your own strength with pieces of your heart that you are unwilling to share with God. That secret piece of your heart un-yielded will effect the usefulness of your whole heart.
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12)
"It's so embarrassing to cry, to break down. What if I can't regain my composure? Consider Jesus stripped, so the world could see His shame and did He resist? No, He gave of Himself to death. He was laughed at and ridiculed. If He, the God of the universe could do that for us, why do we think we are too good to empty ourselves before Him. His shame was before a world that hated Him, our small contrived embarrassment is before a Father that loves us and gave Himself for us.
"So they departed from the presence of the counsel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:41)
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising [mindfully tolerated] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
In conclusion, one can see the wisdom in considering all aspects of truth. Beginning with Jesus the source of all truth and finishing with His word which paints word pictures with the stroke of God's own hand. Take time to sit at the feet of the Lord God. Take time to ponder verses and concepts of Scripture that have been neglected. Give consideration to God's will and how truth fits into it. Give place to God.
It could be, however, that you don't know God. It could be that God is just a word in your vocabulary and you did not know you could even have a relationship with Him. These concepts spoken above may be foreign to you. That's okay because God loves you and wants you to know Him. He has revealed Himself in His word. He came to die to pay for your sin and give you life. Maybe you never gave a thought about how to ask God to pay for your sin and to come into your life. Maybe you didn't know that all men are sinners and come short of the glory of God . You knew something was wrong and you were not perfect but maybe you didn't know that all men were born in sin from the first man Adam until me and you. Maybe you never heard that all you need to do is to call on the name of God and you will be saved. if you never have prayed the sinner's prayer for God to save you, you can pray a prayer like this or even this very one:
Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I am lost in my sin. I ask that you forgive my sin and save me right now. Lord I realize that you died for me. That you were buried and rose the third day for me. I turn now from my sin and turn to You as the only way of salvation. Please come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior and Master of my life. I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Other hubs on Meditation: