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The Pleasures of Meditation | Lesson 4

Scripture is our text

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 2, In the year of our Lord, 2017

  1. Eugene Peterson wrote,

    “Our lives, that is, our experience—what we need and want and feel—are important in forming the Christ-life in us. Our lives are, after all, the stuff that is being formed. But they are not the text for directing the formation itself” (p. 23, emphasis added).
  2. All of what we do and 
    1. all of what we are
    2. relates somehow to God.
      1. Most people never see this truth.
      2. Most people think
        1. that God and His word
        2. only serve certain parts of our lives.
      3. However, eating the word of God
        1. will change that way of thinking and
        2. make us see all of life as God does, and
          1. then we will want to use His word
          2. for our lives rather than merely as part of our lives.
      4. If we only use ourselves to form ourselves,
        1. we leave out the essential thing and
        2. that is the One in whose image we are made.
  3. Scripture plays the primary part of this formation and development,

    “In our reading of this book we come to realize that what we need is not primarily informational, telling us things about God and ourselves, but formational, shaping us into our true being” (p. 24, emphasis added).

    1. Romans 8.29
    2. Romans 12.2
    3. Galatians 4.19
      1. Therefore, when we meditate on Scripture,
      2. we do not necessarily learn more, except
        1. what we are and
        2. what God is, and
          1. that we fall short, and so
          2. we see what we need to change.
            1. We become more of what we were meant to be.
            2. Scripture makes us what God intends for us to be,

              “Our best users of language, poets and lovers and children and saints, use words to make—make intimacies, make character, make beauty, make goodness, make truth” (p. 24, emphasis in original).
      3. Do we understand why we should read and meditate in Scripture?
        1. What do you hope to find in Scripture?
        2. Why do you read it?
  4. This is no ordinary book. 
    1. This is the God of heaven
    2. personally revealing something to us!
      1. Therefore, the message of the Scriptures is not merely practical,
        1. useful for everyday living, which clearly it is, but
      2. God seeks a relationship with us.
        1. He is being personal with us.
        2. Eugene Peterson adds to this,

          “The corollary to that is that I, because I am a person, am personally involved in the revelation. Every word I hear, everything I see in my imagination as this story unfolds, involves me relationally, pulls me into participating, matters to my core identity, affects who I am and what I do (p. 27).
    3. Therefore, we cannot distance ourselves from the text.
      1. God gave it to us.
      2. It tells of God and us.
        1. God through Jesus Christ
        2. revealed Himself in the Scriptures, but
          1. since it is a personal message from Him, and
          2. since He expects us to participate in the message,
            1. He wants to form
            2. Jesus Christ within us.
      3. Remember what Paul said in Second Corinthians 3,

        18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2Co 3.18).
  5. People read the Scriptures for many reasons. 
    1. Some like the intellectual challenges of figuring out difficult passages.
    2. Some like the practical uses of it.
    3. Some like the inspirational power of the Scriptures.
    4. Some like how it supports their own ideas.
    5. Others want it to refute others.
      1. Yet, consider what Eugene Peterson commented on
      2. in regard to the first three groups, and
        1. he would say about the last two,
        2. I am sure,

          “…in whatever group you find yourself, you will be using the Bible for your purposes, and those purposes will not necessarily require anything of you relationally. It is entirely possible to come to the Bible in total sincerity, responding to the intellectual challenge it gives, or for the moral guidance it offers, or for the spiritual uplift it provides, and not in any way have to deal with a personally revealing God who has personal designs on you.

          “Or to put it in the terms in which we started out: It is possible to read the Bible from a number of different angles and for various purposes without dealing with God as God has revealed himself, without setting ourselves under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is alive and present in everything we are and do.

          “To put it bluntly, not everyone who gets interested in the Bible and even gets excited about the Bible wants to get involved with God.

          “But God is what the book is about” (pp. 29–30).

      3. Many want to use the Bible,
      4. instead of letting the Bible use them.
        1. They do not understand what God does
        2. in and through the Scriptures.
      5. Therefore, we have to read the Bible
        1. the way it comes to us,
        2. not the way we go to it.
  6. Reading the Bible this way shocks our system. 
    1. Are we not taught constantly
      1. that we make all the decisions?
      2. And how are we taught to do so?
        1. It is mostly by our tastes, desires, and feelings.
        2. So, we think religion functions the same way.
    2. We have become lords of self.
  7. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
    Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
    Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
    24 But let him who glories glory in this,
    That he understands and knows Me,
    That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
    For in these I delight,”
    says the LORD.
    (Jer 9.23–24).

    23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself;
    It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
    (Jer 10.23).

    24 A man’s steps are of the LORD;
    How then can a man understand his own way?
    (Pro 20.24).

    23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
    And He delights in his way.
    (Psa 37.23).

    28 “forin Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘or we are also His offspring’” (Acts 17.28).

  8. VIII.Are farmers in a hurry?

    7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (Jam 5.7–8).

    1. Meditation farms the soil of our hearts.
    2. We cannot rush knowledge, but
      1. we have to keep at it,
      2. waiting patiently for the fruit.
  9. Remembering Scripture as a story will enhance your time of meditation. 
    1. A good story, especially the Scriptures,
    2. does not merely tell or show us something
      1. for the sake of entertainment,
      2. the passing of time, or
      3. the giving of information, but
        1. a narrative invites us to take part in the story, or rather
        2. to show us in the story,
          1. whether we realize it or not and
          2. whether we like it or not.
      4. Eugene Peterson reminds us of what the story of the Bible does,

        “…we don’t live our lives by information; we live them in relationships in the context of a personal God who cannot be reduced to formula or definition, who has designs on us for justice and salvation” (pp. 41–42).
  10. Biblical writers did not embellish their stories 
    1. They are somewhat “stingy” in the pictures that they show.
    2. This way we can easily fit into the story.
      1. If they gave too many details,
      2. we would only see the biblical players in the story, not ourselves.
    3. Learn to see the whole Bible as one story and
      1. everything in it
      2. as parts of that story.
  11. Meditating in Scripture is like walking, stopping, and stooping.
    1. Picture our different modes of travel.
      1. Driving you see more than flying.
      2. Riding a bike you see more than driving.
      3. Walking you see more than riding.
      4. Stopping you see more than walking.
      5. Stooping you see more than stopping.
        1. Meditating and living Scripture
        2. slows down us to enjoy the view.
          1. Sometimes stopping
          2. to ponder a wonderful sight,

            18 Open my eyes, that I may see
            Wondrous things from Your law.
            (Psa 119.18)

  12. XII.Meditating is a form of exegesis. 
    1. Not the technical exegesis, but the closer look of love.
      1. Consider the end of “Ride the Tiger” by Jefferson Starship,

        It’s like a tear in the hands of a western man
        Tell you about salt, carbon and water
        But a tear to an oriental man
        He’ll tell you about sadness and sorrow or the love of a man and a woman.

      2. Again Peterson wrote,

        “Exegesis is the furthest thing from pedantry; exegesis is an act of love. It loves the one who speaks the words enough to want to get the words right. It respects the words enough to use every means we have to get the words right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what he says. It follows that we bring the leisure and attentiveness of lovers to this text, cherishing every comma and semicolon, relishing the oddness of this preposition, delighting in the surprising placement of this noun. Lovers don’t take a quick look, get a ‘message’ or a ‘meaning,’ and then run off and talk endlessly with their friends about how they feel” (p. 55).

        1. How do you read a letter from your children?
        2. In Scripture we read a book from our heavenly Father.
      3. Therefore, meditation blesses study.
    2. Do you understand the difference between
      1. mastering the text and
      2. the text mastering us?
        1. We read the text, but
        2. the text reads us.
  13. XIII.The Bible is not simply an encyclopedia of scriptural wisdom 
    1. that we merely look up what we need for the moment, but
    2. it guides us as followers of Jesus Christ.
      1. When you meditate on Scripture, therefore,
      2. figure out what you are doing.
        1. Are you just looking for information or
        2. are you looking to follow Jesus better?