Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MEDITATION AND IMITATION

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you,” Psalm 119:11. There is a kind of Bible study that goes beyond reading, synthetic Bible study, Bible memory, group Bible study, Old Testament references in their context and subject studies. Meditation is more mystical and practical. That may sound like a contradiction. Let me tell you what it is not. It is not looking for some deeper, hidden meaning. It is not looking for a codified arrangement of the text, or numerology. And it is not saying the plain meaning of the text that we got from our previous reading and studying is not the right meaning. We probably got the right meaning and we can repeat it back. We know the text! What, then, is this kind of Bible study? Well, it is not our understanding; it is where we understand it. Do we understand it in our heads or do we understand it in our hearts? Most study ends up in head knowledge. In other words, if we were given a lab examination on what we had studied we might not do as well as we would do in a written exam.

If we had studied Matthew 5:38-48 we might come up with the right answer on our paper. Would we do as well if we were put into a laboratory with evil people who sued us, hit us, forced miles upon us, asked us for money and borrowed from us? In addition, they were our enemies and persecuted us.

When I go into this kind of a lab, I must have all of this head knowledge transferred to my heart. My actions – planned and unplanned – come from there, not from my head. Transferring this cognitive true knowledge to my heart is a mystical event. It is not done by concentration or hard study. Having it in my heart makes it practical. This is where I want to store all of this good stuff so that when I overflow, good stuff comes out. Here are three teachings from the gospels that describe this practicality, good and bad.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matthew 12:34-35 (NIV)

Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ Mark 7:15 (NIV)

He went on: ‘What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ Mark 7:15 20-23 (NIV)

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 (NIV)

Early in my Christian life I memorized a lot of scripture verses. I knew them word-for-word with references. They were in my head and I could call them up at anytime. It did not occur to me, or to others, that I was not living out these scriptures. I am not sure how many years it was, probably three, before I got suspicious. It was one thing for my brain to overflow and spout out scripture. It was another thing, entirely, for my heart to overflow. I thought that memorizing scripture was hiding His word in my heart. It was not; it was hiding His word in my head. In other words, I might be able to pass a written test; on the other hand I might not pass. It was a sure thing that I would not pass the lab test.

I thank God that neither test is given, since we have been saved by grace. After we have been saved by grace, we are to be careful to do good works.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Our new birth guarantees that we do not continue to sin, that is live in sin.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him
. . . No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:6&9 (NIV)

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness . . . But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:18&22 (NIV)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:19-23 (NIV)

The above scriptures are not commands, they are indicative statements. They just are.

There are heart commands given to us after the new birth. Here is a representative scripture:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1&2 (NIV)

These good works, whether they be the fruit of the spirit or physical actions and words, are works that come from our hearts. We are in the lab all of the time. Let’s look at a few Biblical examples.

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brother or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. Matthew 5:39-42 (NIV)

Each of the above texts has imperatives in it. Look at them again! What do they say? Do you understand them? Are they clear? You may have other questions. If the questions take the following character like, “What does it mean?”, “Where do you draw the line?”, “You mean I cannot invite my parents?”, “How rich?”, “Suppose he is wrong!”, “Suppose he is evil!”, then you probably understand in your head and certainly do not understand with your heart. To understand with your head, ask this question, “Is it clear?”

To begin to understand with your heart, ask this question of yourself: “True or false?” If you answer “True!” then do not say, “but . . .” After you say “True!” praise God with thanksgiving. After you thank God for these commands, you will begin to hide the word in your heart. How do you continue? Soak in these scriptures, muse, meditate on them so that you begin to pray about the lame and the blind, your enemies, and evil people. Confess anything in your heart that is hindering willing heart obedience to the commands. Then begin to anticipate, long for, pray for an opportunity to obey without conditions.

If you do not understand the previous paragraphs, and you are a Christian, something is very wrong. It may be that you are too comfortable in your evangelical church. You realize that if you suddenly obeyed these commands from the heart, you would be out of step with your evangelical friends. In other words, you do not want to be godly or holy if it means being different from the rest of the saints.

Meditation does not take study. It takes prayerful, willing submission to the text. That is why and how it can be done all of the time.

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 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 streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Soon, you will anticipate and long for opportunities to put your meditation into action.

There is still another way to have a normal and natural heart obedience. In a father-son relationship there are three causes of the son being like his father. The first, is genetic inheritance. He looks like his father. The second, is a command/obedience relationship. The third is imitation. It is this one that is another way. The Bible makes reference to it several times. Here are few of those instances.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, . . . Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:44&48 (NIV)

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 1 Corinthians 4:15&16 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:32-5:2 (NIV)

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16 (NIV)

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. Philippians 2:20-23 (NIV)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:32-11:1

There are more such verses. We have become like our fathers by imitating them. It is the best way of learning anything that has an application to it.

Meditate and imitate.

Jim Wilson
Community Christian Ministries
P.O. Box 9754
Moscow, ID 83843
208-883-0997
ccm@moscow.com




NOTE: This article may be copied by permission of Community Christian Ministries (05/17/01)





C:\Users\CCM\Documents\Roots\Roots 2012\MEDITATION AS A MEANS OF STUDY.doc

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An Excerpt from the Book “Heart Cry for Revival”

“It was 1904. All Wales was aflame. The nation had drifted far from God. The spiritual conditions were low indeed. Church attendance was poor, and sin abounded on every side.
“Suddenly, like an unexpected tornado, the Spirit of God swept over the land. The churches were crowded, so that multitudes were unable to get in. Meetings lasted from ten in the morning until twelve at night. Three definite services were held each day. Evan Roberts was the human instrument, but there was very little preaching. Singing, testimony and prayer were the chief features. There were no hymnbooks, they had learned the hymns in childhood; no choir, for everybody sang; no collection, and no advertising.
“Nothing had ever come over Wales with such far-reaching results. Infidels were converted; drunkards, thieves and gamblers saved; and thousands reclaimed to respectability. Confessions of awful sins were heard on every side. Old debts were paid. The theater had to leave for want of patronage. Mules in coal mines refused to work, being unused to kindness! In five weeks, twenty thousand people joined the churches.”

Taken from Heart-Cry for Revival (copyright 1962, Fleming H. Revell Company).

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Power That Backs Us

In the early 1950’s Dawson E. Trotman wrote of a visit to Germany in 1948. It is in the booklet The Need of the Hour (copyright 1957, 1975 by the Navigators):

I invited fifty German fellows to meet with me for three days, and twenty-five of them came. I talked to them every evening for three hours beginning to lay before them the Great Commission and the idea that I felt Germany not only needed to hear the Gospel, but that Germans themselves needed to obey the Great Commission by sending missionaries.

I gave them the opportunity to ask questions during the meetings and every once in awhile a hand would go up. I was trying to lay upon their hearts the very thing the Lord laid on the hearts of the disciples when He told them to go to every creature, make disciples of every nation, start in Jerusalem and go to the ends of the earth. One German spoke up, “But, Mr. Trotman, you don’t understand. Here in Germany some of us right in this room don’t even have the Old Testament; we only have a New Testament.” But I pointed out, “When Jesus Christ gave these commandments, they didn’t have even a New Testament.”

Later one of them said, “But, Mr. Trotman, we have very few good evangelical books in this country. In America you have thus and so.” I asked, “How many books did the disciples have?”

A little further on one of them asked, “Is it true that in America you can hear the Gospel any day?” I answered, “Yes.” He said, “If we had that…but we can’t get the message out on any radio.” I said, “But the disciples had never heard of a radio.”

They said, “You have automobiles, we ride bicycles.” I reminded them, “The disciples didn’t have bicycles. Jesus rode a borrowed burro.”
Now these questions didn’t come up one right after the other or they would have caught on, but they were brought up during the nine hours together. Finally one fellow spoke up and said, “In America you have money. I work twelve hours a day for sixty cents. We don’t have much money.” I replied, “The disciples were sent out without purse and without script.”

Every excuse in the books was brought up. “We don’t have this, and we don’t have that. We don’t have buildings; we don’t have facilities.” Each time I replied, “But the twelve didn’t and He sent them out.”

Then finally near the end one fellow, a little older than the rest and with almost a bitter expression on his face, got up and said, “Mr. Trotman, you in America have never had an occupation force in your land. You don’t know what it is to have soldiers of another country roaming your streets. Our souls are not our own.” I responded, “The disciples lived at the time Jesus Christ lived and their souls weren’t their own. The Roman soldiers were in charge.”

Then it dawned on me in a way I had never considered before that when Jesus Christ sent the eleven out, He let a situation exist which was so bad that there could never be a worse one. No printing presses, no automobiles, no radios, no television, no telephones, no buildings, not one single church, no uniforms, nothing for the vestry…He didn’t even leave them a little emblem.

He left them only a job to do, but with it He said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” What does the “therefore” mean? It means, “I have the power to give you the order and I have the power to back you to the hilt.” He has all power in heaven and earth…not just heaven, but in the earth; all power, not part of the power, but all power, which means power over the Romans and power over the Communists.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Name of Jesus

In 1927 E.W. Kenyon wrote The Wonderful Name of Jesus (copywrite 1998, Kensington's Gospel Publishing Society). The following is the first paragraph of the book, followed by the fourth chapter,(I have left the punctuation as it was published):

Several years ago I was holding meetings in a city in Tennessee. One afternoon, while giving an address on “The Name of Jesus” a lawyer interrupted me, asking:
“Do you mean to say that Jesus gave us the ʻPower of Attorney ʼ the Legal Right to use His Name?”
I said to him, “Brother, you are a lawyer and I am a layman. Tell me–did Jesus give us the ʻPower of Attorney?ʼ
He said, “If language means anything, then Jesus gave to the church the Power of Attorney.”
Then I asked him, “What is the value of this Power of Attorney?”
He answered, “It depends upon how much there is back of it, how much authority, how much power this Name represents.”
Then I began the search to find how much power and authority Jesus had.


It might be a helpful study for us to notice the Name in the plan of salvation and its relation to the believer in his Christian life.
“And she shall bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for it is He that shall save His people from their sins. Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us.” Matt. 1:21, 23.
The Name “Jesus” is inseparably connected with salvation.
The very Name is filled with music to a repentant soul.
“And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
It is the one Name through which the sinner approaches the Great Father God; it is the one Name that gives him a hearing; it is the one Name that unveils to him the mediatorial ministry of Jesus.
“Baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Not only are we saved by the Name, but the believer is baptized into the Name.
And we find in the same verse that not only are we baptized into the Name, but on the ground of the Name we shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus gave us these promises of the use of His Name in prayer.
“Whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My Name, that will I do. If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.” John 14:13-15.
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.” John 16:24.
In Acts 3:1-6 we hear Peter saying, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that give I thee. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Men are baptized into the Name; men pray in the Name; now, in that Name the impotent and helpless are made to walk.
In Acts 16:18 we see the Apostle Paul casting a demon out of a possessed girl, setting her free, and stirring the city of Ephesus to the very foundation.
What power that Name has for the Church today!
“For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the
in the midst of them.” Matt. 18:20.
The assemblies were taught that when they met, they gathered about that Name.
What a strange hush must have come upon the hearts of the disciples when they realized as they gathered in their little meetings that the Name was the center around which everything revolved!
That their prayers were addressed through that Name and in that Name the sick were healed; in that Name the demons were cast out: in that Name the Holy Spirit came upon believers; in that Name they worshipped; in that name–the Name of their absent Lord–all the work of the Early Church was wrought.
In Col. 3:17 they were taught to do all things in that Name.
Eph. 5:20, to give thanks always for all things in that Name.
In 1 Cor. 6:11 they were washed, sanctified, justified in that Name.
Hebrews 13:15, Make confession to His Name.
James 5:14 Anointing the sick in the Name of the Lord.
I John 3:23 “And this is His commandment, that we should believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as He gave us commandment.”
The new commandment was that they love one another and believe in the Name.
We can see by this, that the Name of Jesus touched every phase of the Church life, in those early days; that it filled a place in their thought, in their prayer and in their preaching of which we are utterly ignorant today.
May the Lord open the eyes of our hearts that we may know the riches of the glory of God that are hidden in that Name.