THE HABIT of MEDITATION/PSALMS
We know Jesus spent His time first on; “prayer and solitude“. Secondly on “worship“. Thirdly on “prayer and confession“. The fourth habit I discovered this week, is the habit of spending time with God; hanging out with God so-to-speak, in meditation.
There is a practice of Jesus’ life, a definite in-between-the-lines kind of practice in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew; both have Jesus saying something while hanging on the cross. First, Matthew tells the story this way:
“And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani–that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” (Matthew 27:46–Amplified Bible).
And Luke tells the story this way:
“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit! And with these words, He expired” (Luke 23:46).
Do you know that Jesus is quoting something here as He is hanging on the cross? What is Jesus quoting? He is quoting the Psalms. In Matthew it is Psalm 22:1 and in Luke it is Psalm 31:6. Keep in mind here, that Jesus didn’t exactly have a pocket Bible on hand with a handy concordance listing helpful Psalms while hanging on the cross at Calvary. No, He would have had these psalms memorized. It meant a significant time “hanging out” with God; meditating on the Psalms.
When it came to game time, Jesus is in the worst situation He’s faced. The practice of meditation formed certain habits in Him that were coming out naturally. Those habits come out as “muscle memory” on the cross. He prays lines of the psalms because that’s what he spent time on while “hanging out” with His heavenly Father meditating upon.
The first Psalm offers a wonderful piece of wisdom in meditation: “HOW BLESSED is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalms 1:1-3–NAS Bible).
To paraphrase the verses, “Those who meditate on the law or words of the Lord, day and night, are blessed; or happy, or fortunate. They prosper like a tree planted by a stream. They bear fruit in their life that is godly and their strength doesn’t wither.” This may not always look like how we expect things to happen, but God sustains those who meditate on God’s words.
So what is meditation exactly? Popularizations of Eastern religions might say, “the emptying of the mind”. That’s not what Christian meditation is about. Christian meditation is “rotating God’s word and God’s creation around in your mind and looking at it from every possible angle; chewing on it, savoring it like a gobstopper from Willie Wonka till it speaks to you.” The rhema Word!
Let’s practice meditation on something very simple in the above picture of an autumn leaf found on the ground. While out walking the dog this afternoon, I couldn’t help noticed all of the leaves that had fallen over the past several days. I stopped and picked up a leaf very similar to the one in the above photo shot. What questions did I have about it? What did I notice? In the above photo, notice things about the picture and ask yourselves questions about it.
Here’s some things I noticed about the leaf found on the ground today:
. What kind of leaf is it?
. How many points does it have?
. What color red is this?
. How many veins does it have?
. Is it all one color or are there variations?
. What are the small splotches on it? Some are dark and some are gray. Is it mold or something else?
. What does it look like on the other side?
. Where did I find the leaf? Under a tree? On a sidewalk?
. Are there other similar leaves around the one I found?
. What kind of tree did they fall from?
This little exercise in meditation could go on and on. God’s words and God’s creation are big enough and deep enough to meditate on the rest of our lives. Every time we go back we also have new experiences that we bring with us, to help us see new and different things.
Jesus spent time meditating on God’s words. Find some time to do so your self.
“PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”
When I was 12 years old, everyone my age in the neighborhood was practicing on their rented accordions. And of course, I needed to be like everyone else– or so I thought. After my folks explained that accordion lessons were out of the question, my dad did know someone, who knew someone, who gave guitar lessons–at a reasonable price. So I began STEEL GUITAR lessons. The guitar laid across my lap and was plugged into a small amplifier that had a scorched mark on the back of the AMP. Every day, my grandmother would call to me while I was playing catch in the front yard, “Mel, you better come in the house and practice your guitar.” The lessons lasted for about a year anda half before I decided, being Les Paul was never going to happen– without PRACTICE anyway!
I didn’t want to practice on my guitar because of my parents reminding me to practice; I had to choose for myself to practice. It is not any different in practicing more of Jesus’ habits. You have to choose to choose!
The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form list PRACTICE, v. “train in, train for, become seasoned, drill, exercise, do again, repeat, rehearse (repetition); be in the habit, be addicted, follow.” It’s a CHOICE!
THE HABIT OF LISTENING
The fifth habit of learning and practicing is LISTENING–sometimes hard to master but practicing can bring a new revelation about yourself. May we practice these HABITS not just by our own power and strength but by the power of God working in us; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“People will rarely remember your advice but they will remember you listened“– by Cara Lawrence. Jesus was and IS the consummate listener. Imagine all those prayers He continues to listen to from people all around the world. Everyday all day and night.
In February 1964, I met my wife-to-be and we went on our first date together. After a movie at a Drive-in theater, we went to a restaurant by the name of Uncle Suzies’; it later became our regular hang-out. I told her how impressed I was with her on the “first date”. She replied, “Really, how so?” “You are a good listener. You gave me exclusive attention by looking at me while I rambled on about my screwed-up life, never looking around to see if you knew someone else in the room.” Her reply to the compliment was, “That’s just who I am I guess. Thank you.” Her practice of listening came out naturally in who she was. Both of us were not born again believers when we met; it wasn’t happenstance either. Thank You Jesus!
Making the other person your focus takes practice for some of us–alright, most of us. Begin by looking directly into the person’s eyes as you begin to talk to them. Don’t be looking around at other people. Forget your cell phone or the remote for that moment. Listen for what is not said.
The last HABIT (there’s a lot more to find in God’s Word)that needs practicing, in my opinion and Jesus’ too is LOVE (1 John 4:8): “He who does not love has not become acquainted with God, for God is love.”
LOVING AS A HABIT
Love is something you choose to do! Love is not a feeling; it’s not a song either. Do you remember the song by the Carpenters, “Close to You”? Have you ever considered the lyrics?
“Why do birds suddenly appear,
Every time you are near?”
You have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to be near somebody who causes birds to appear suddenly?” Didn’t Alfred Hitchcock do a horror movie about this?
Jesus’ LOVE is, a no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been, a no matter who you are kind of love. He wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to express His love to someone. He simply said, looking into their eyes, “I LOVE YOU!”
If practicing MORE of Jesus’ habits isn’t your thing right now, let me give you some wise advice and counsel. Why is it wise? Because someone gave it to me once! My attitudes began to change because I chose to practice. Do you need a new attitude?
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]” (Romans 12:2–Amplified Bible).
This isn’t a one time occurrence that happens when you are born again. It has to be repeated. When Practicing MORE of Jesus–HABITS!, becomes your choice, not someone else s will for your life, a new attitude will surface in a natural sort of way–as Jesus did while in this world. Practice does make practicing the HABITS of Jesus—PERFECT! Being MORE like Him!