Listen: The Lost Art of Meditation
Sermon Summary
This message continues the series Listen. It discusses the present and historical importance of meditation in the Judeo-Christian faith. Using Psalm 19 as a text, we look at meditation’s meaning, it’s focus, it’s goals, and it’s results. Psalm 119 is also used as a supporting text. Meditation is considered by many to be mostly an eastern religion concept. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meditating on the things of God was a very important part of the religious practices of the great leaders in the Bible.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What do you think of when you first hear the word Meditation? Why?

2. What are some of the things that should be on your focus list when it comes to meditating on the things of God? A quick guide would be Creation, Revelation, and Salvation!
Psa 119:27  Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
Psa 119:28  My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Psa 119:29  Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.
Psa 119:30  I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
Psa 119:31  I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
Psa 119:32  I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

3. Discuss some of the goals of meditation and why they are so important. There are many, but the two mentioned in the message were, freedom from bondage and to be pleasing to God.
Psa 19:13  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
Psa 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

4. What are some of the results you can expect from Meditating on God’s Word?
Psa 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psa 19:8  The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psa 19:9  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
Psa 19:10  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
Psa 19:11  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Full Sermon Notes

Is it well with your soul? God wants so much for things to be okay with your soul. That part of you that truly embodies who you are, what you think, what you believe, and what you choose to pursue in this life. God's voice speaks to those who have ears to hear. He promises to be found by those who seek! He promises to give to those who ask! He promises to open doors for those who knock! So what does seeking, asking and knocking look like in the spiritual world? We're going to talk about the lost art of meditation this morning, and before you decide I've lost my mind, hear me out!

Let's pray and ask God to help us learn how to listen for His voice in a noisy and cluttered world!

"Father God, how can we survive in this world if we can't hear Your voice? How can we have any hope to make sense of this confusion if we can't discern Your voice? How can we know we are fulfilling our God-given potentials if we are deaf to Your voice? How can we be comforted with Your peace, Your strength, and Your love, if we've lost the ability to listen, not just hear, but truly listen? Awaken in us today a renewed sense of desire to block out all the other voices that scream at us so we can hear Your still, small voice! Thank You for hearing my voice this morning and for being willing to answer this prayer prayed in the precious Name of Jesus! Amen!

There's a lot of people who want God's wisdom, direction, guidance, power, and strength, but they don't want it enough to seek it, to spend time asking, or to make the effort to knock on the door which stands at the entry way to the things of God! They think God should just give it to them without any effort. Now let me say this...

When it comes to the forgiveness, mercy and grace of God, you don't deserve those things, you can't earn those things by good works, and you can't purchase them, but you do have to ask for them to receive them. If you aren't willing to humble yourself and admit you need those things from God then your pride will rob you of their benefits. We call the forgiveness of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God, salvation, and it's free to those who are willing to ask for it! You see, God paid the price when He sent His Son Jesus to this world to be our Savior! So all we have to do is ask, and receive!

When it comes to Spiritual growth, it's much the same, we ask and receive! But there is a catch when it comes to spiritual growth. It's not a trick, or a deception on God's part, the catch is on our part! You see we must first ask for God's wisdom, and in order for that to happen, one must first desire to know God's wisdom. If you have no desire to know God's wisdom, you won't ask for it.

The Psalmist understood this. Listen to his words...

Psa 63:1  A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psa 63:2  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Psa 63:3  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
Psa 63:4  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psa 63:5  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Psa 63:6  On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Psa 63:7  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psa 63:8  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.


And if you desire God's wisdom and do ask for it, then you must be willing to receive it. For that to happen you must put yourself in a position to listen because if you won't listen you won't receive! The lost art of meditation is one of the most powerful ways of listening to God's voice. The last verse of our text for today says...

Psa 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Ok, what is meditation?

Meditation's Meaning

meditate |ˈmedəˌtāt| verb
To think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time

I know that is a very basic meaning. But it's a good basic definition. The Psalmist prayed that his meditation, his thoughts and his mind's focus, his heart's focus, would be pleasing to God. The Psalmist also wanted his words to be pleasing to God. Remember this, if your heart is right, your words will follow! Before we go any further, I want to quickly distinguish the differences between the Jewish-Christian, known as Judeo-Christian, view on meditation and the Eastern view, which is the most common in the U.S. today.

I'm not an expert on the subject so I will turn to Dr. Richard Foster, a Quaker professor, writer, and well respected theologian. I will read to you a portion of his thoughts on the differences  from his book, "Celebration of Discipline."

"... Eastern forms of meditation stress the need to become detached from the world. There is an emphasis upon losing personhood and individuality and merging with the Cosmic Mind. There is a longing to be released from the burdens and pains of this life and be caught up into the effortless, suspended bliss of Nirvana.

Personal identity is lost in a pool of cosmic consciousness. Detachment is the final goal of Eastern religion. It is an escaping from the miserable wheel of existence. There is no God to be attached to or to hear from. Zen and Yoga are popular forms of this approach.
Transcendental Meditation has the same Buddhist roots but in its Western form is something of an aberration. In its popular form, TM is meditation for the materialist. You do not need to believe in the spiritual realm in the least to practice it. It is merely a method of controlling the brain waves in order to improve your physiological and
emotional well-being. More advanced forms of TM do involve the spiritual nature, and then it takes on exactly the same characteristics as all other Eastern religions.
        
Christian meditation goes far beyond the notion of detachment. There is need for detachment--'sabbath of contemplation' as Peter of Celles, a Benedictine monk of the twelfth century, put it. But we must go on to attachment. The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God and to other human beings. Christian meditation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely, and to the spiritual perception necessary to attack social evils."

Wow, that's a lot I know, but it's important to set the foundation for our message today.  You see, your definition of meditation will determine your focus, your goals and your results. What kinds of things should we focus the thoughts of our minds on when we are meditating? Let's see...

Meditation's
Focus

Our text is Psalm 19. Let's see what it says...

God's Amazing Creation!

Psa 19:1  For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psa 19:2  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
Psa 19:3  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Psa 19:4  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
Psa 19:5  which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
Psa 19:6  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

So when you meditate on creation, the voice of the Creator can be heard. How many of you have spent time watching a beautiful sunrise/sunset, walking in the mountains, along the sea shore, or taking a boat ride through the beautiful lakes and marshes of our area?

If you take the time to meditate on the beauty and complexity of creation I believe God will speak to your heart! Why? Because creation is a natural revelation of God to humankind. And then there's God's written revelation which we are encouraged to focus on as we study His laws, statutes, precepts, commands and ordinances…Listen

God's Amazing Revelation!

Psa 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psa 19:8  The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psa 19:9  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
Psa 19:10  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
Psa 19:11  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

God's Amazing Salvation!

Psa 19:12  Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

The Psalmist ask an interesting question. Who can discern his errors? This Psalm is attributed to King David. He knows his position in the world is privileged. He knows very few would ever question him or say that he had made an error. However, he immediately asked God to forgive his hidden faults. Why? If no one knew about them, why did they matter? Well, they may have been hidden to the world, but they weren't hidden to God and David knew that full well! You can fool people, but God knows the hidden truth and yet is still willing to forgive those who are willing to admit, believe, and commit.

Admit they need a Savior, believe Jesus came to be that Savior, and commit to follow their Savior! Here's some beautiful words from Peter's message in the book of Acts that we should all meditate on...

Acts 10:34  Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
Acts 10:35  but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Acts 10:36  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Acts 10:37  You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached--
Acts 10:38  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:39  "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,
Acts 10:40  but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
Acts 10:41  He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
Acts 10:42  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
Acts 10:43  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

So focusing on God's creation, His revelation, and His salvation are great things to focus on. What are some of the goals of Christian meditation?

Meditation's
Goals

Freedom from Bondage!

Psa 19:13  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

The Psalmist meditated on the things of God because he did not want to have willful sin in his life. He knew he wasn't perfect, but he also knew that being human and weak was not an excuse for sin. He did not want to willfully sin. He wanted to live a stronger life so that with God's help sin would not rule over him. He knew that willful sin would lead to great transgressions…transgression that would not only destroy his own life, but which would have devastating effects on those around him.

So his goal was to learn, through meditating on God's laws, precepts,and truths, how to live free from the bondage to sin and at the same time glorify God with his life! Listen to John's words in 1 John 2:1-2...

1 John 2:1  My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
1 John 2:2  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

And then the last verse of our text gives us another clear goal...

To be Pleasing to God!

Psa 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


One of the goals for Christian meditation is to connect with God in such a way that it pleases Him. Why are we concerned with pleasing Him if our salvation is a gift that cannot be earned? When you love someone you want to be pleasing to them!!

Psa 104:33  I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psa 104:34  May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.

So are these the only two goals of Christian meditation? What about knowing God's will, and having great knowledge, and being successful, and I can think of many other things! Yes there are so many good goals for Christian meditation. But the writer of Hebrews sums it up for us this way...

Heb 13:20  May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
Heb 13:21  equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In other words, if your meditation leads you to let God set you free from the chains of sin and helps you to live a life that pleases Him, the goals of meditation will have exceeded expectations!! Now, the last point, Meditation's Results, is closely tied to Meditation's Goals!

Meditation's
Results

Revived Soul

Psa 19:7a  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul...

Want to be able to sing, "It is well with my soul?" Meditate on God's perfect law! In Psalm 119 the Psalmist wrote these fabulous words….

Psa 119:18  Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psa 119:19  I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.
Psa 119:20  My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.

Wisdom for the Simple

Psa 19:7b... The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

You may not have degrees from Yale or Harvard, but when you meditate on the statutes of the Lord, you will become really, really smart! How smart? Check this out...


Psa 119:99  I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
Psa 119:100  I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.


A Happy Heart

Psa 19:8a The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart...

And again in Psalm 119...

Psa 119:14  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
Psa 119:15  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
Psa 119:16  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Psa 119:17  Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.

Eyes that See

Psa 19:8b... The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

And again in Psalm 119...

Psa 119:18  Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psa 119:19  I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.
Psa 119:20  My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.


Warnings and Rewards

Psa 19: 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD
are sure and altogether righteous.
Psa 19:10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
Psa 19:11By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Listen to God's promise to those who meditate on the things of God found in Hebrews 11:6

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

And what are those rewards? Well, the greatest is personal, one on one fellowship with God almighty. And this leads to all kinds of rewards…You learn things/you figure things out/you dream things and envision possibilities/God speaks to your heart and gives you divine direction based on the truths of His Word. How cool is that? You get 24/7 access to God’s provision, power, protection, and the whole list would be another sermon for another day!

Let's pray!