Beside Still Waters

MEDITATION ON PSALM 75

Psalm 75:1  We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.

Your Name—all that you are, all that you stand for—you in your majestic fullness are near. We give thanks—I give thanks. How important it is to daily remember what you have done in the whole of history, as well as in our personal histories. Your steady parade of miraculous acts leading to our redemption leaves me on my face before you. “Surely you are good to Israel.”

2 You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly. 3 When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold the pillars firm. 4 To the arrogant I say ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. 5 Do not lift up your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck.’”

God is the One, the only One, who judges uprightly, and appoints the time for judgment. How dare we boast and lift our “horns,” our puny strength, up against the One who holds the pillars of the earth firm when it and all its people quake? Praise be to Him, the Lord Almighty, the everlasting God, the Creator and Sovereign of the universe.

6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. 7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

If we think that our being raised up in the eyes of God or man is within our or another’s power to accomplish, we are deluded. It is God’s to judge, to bring down or exalt. Praise his holy and righteous Name.

8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.

This is the awful cup of your wrath, O Lord. This is the cup the Lord Jesus Christ drank as he hung on the cross. My sins were in that cup, O Lord. With Job I say, “I repent in dust and ashes.” Your mercy is unfathomable.

9 As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. 10 I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.

“The God of Jacob” has clothed me in the robes of righteousness in Christ. He is worthy of everlasting praise and thankfulness.

MEDITATION ON PSALM 42 AND 43

Psalm 42:1  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul after you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

I pray, Lord, that you will create in my heart a thirst like this for you….

3 My tears have been my food day and night while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Who of us has not at times, for whatever reason, been unable to worship with other believers and perhaps felt the sense of isolation that the psalmist felt. But there will come a day when we can join the  “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’” (Rev. 7:9-12) That will be the worship service to end all worship services! And it will go on forever.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6 and my God.

There are times – and I’m sure I am not alone – when joy in worship and faith wavers. Then I can say with the psalmist, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

By day I walk in your love, O Lord. By night your song to me and my prayer to You in response merge. Your song becomes a prayer of worship.

9 I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all  the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

In those dark times when it seems you have forgotten me and when even those around me question your presence, help me remember that you are my life, my salvation; that my hope is in you and you alone and ‘I shall again praise you.’

Psalm 43:1 – Vindicate me, O God, and defend my against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

How often we have to remind ourselves that feelings lie! Certainly we feel rejection at times; certainly we mourn under oppression, asking “why?” Then is the time to remember the truth: God will not reject us. He is our refuge – “and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt. 33:27b)

3 Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

Into your presence, O God—this is your holy hill—this is your dwelling—where your presence surrounds me. I pray, like David, to be led into your presence by your light and your truth.

4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

“Joy unspeakable and full of glory”—where have I heard that phrase? It expresses so well the “exceeding joy” of the presence of God—there in full awareness of His glory. Praise and worship are the natural responses.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Amen and Amen!

“…he leads me beside still waters…” (Psalm 23:2b) The “still waters” convey to me a sense of a place where one can be quiet, commune with the Father in prayer, and be refreshed anew by the “living water.” Hence the name of this page. –sjb

Prayer has its great end when it lifts us to be more conscious and more sure of the gift than the need, of the grace than the sin. As petition rises out of need or sin, in our first prayer it comes first; but it may fall into a subordinate place when, at the end and height of our worship, we are filled with the fullness of God. “In that day ye shall ask Me nothing.” Inward sorrow is fulfilled in the prayer of petition; inward joy in the prayer of thanksgiving. And this thought helps to deal with the question as to the hearing of prayer, and especially its answer. Or rather as to the place and kind of answer. We shall come one day to a heaven where we shall gratefully know that God’s great refusals were sometimes the true answers to our truest prayer. Our soul is fulfilled if our petition is not. ~P.T. Forsyth, The Soul of Prayer [Vancouver: Regent, 2002 (originally published in 1916)]; 12.

ON MEDITATION

Knowledge about God is not the same as knowledge of God. We can have a systematic theology of God memorized, and still not grow in our knowledge of God.

How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.
We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask, for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.
Meditation is the act of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.
Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let his truth make its full and proper inpact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace.
Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us-“comfort” us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word-as we contemplate the unreachable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . And it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being humbled and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength, and our joy. God help us, then, to put our knowledge of God to this use, that we all may in truth, “know the Lord.” -J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 23.

HT: The Thirsty Theologian

RIGHT PRAYING IS RIGHT WANTING

“Praying is not about getting God to give us what we want;
it is about learning to want what God wants to give.”

– David deSilva, Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer, 114.

 Meditation Part 1 by Mark Driscoll

Christian meditation differs greatly from non-Christian forms of meditation practiced in Eastern religions. Christian meditation is not passively emptying one’s mind, looking inward for guidance, or detaching oneself from the world. Christian meditation is actively filling one’s mind with Scripture to hear from God and subsequently being transformed by God to effectively serve Him in the world.

In short, Christian meditation is prolonged, focused, thoughtful, and prayerful deep thinking on the truths of who God is and what God has said and done according to Scripture. Past church leaders have simply called this meditation Scripturanum, or “meditating upon Scripture.”

meditation_part_1

The concept of meditation is a fairly common theme in the Hebrew Old Testament. There we find two words used for the discipline and they appear some fifty-eight times, including in the lives of such leaders as Isaac (Genesis 24:63) and Joshua (Joshua 1:8). In some ways the entire book of Psalms is a book of meditation and includes many references to the discipline:

Meditation in Psalms

Psalm 1:1–4 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 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, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 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.
Psalm 77:11–12 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
Psalm 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Psalm 119:99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.

Meditation is also commended in the New Testament in such places as Philippians 4:8, which says, “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.” Meditation is also demonstrated in the life of Jesus’ mother Mary. After hearing God’s great plan for her, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Meditation Part 2 by Mark Driscoll

We can assume that Jesus practiced regular times of meditation since He was known as a brilliant teacher with amazing insight and often spent time alone with God the Father. Personally, I wonder if Jesus spent His forty days alone in the wilderness preceding His temptation by Satan meditating on Deuteronomy; He responds to Satan’s temptations by quoting from Deuteronomy, which was obviously at the forefront of His mind.

meditation_part_2

Meditation has also been a common practice of all branches of Christianity throughout the history of the church. For example, the Puritans were masters at meditation. The lengthy Puritan sermons normally only explored a verse or two of Scripture but did so in a deep and thorough way in an effort to help people learn to meditate deeply on Scripture for themselves. Some Puritan pastors even said that they were more interested in how much Scripture their people understood and obeyed than how much Scripture their people read. They were not discouraging Scripture reading, but acknowledging that sometimes people read too much too fast and remember and apply too little. Slowing down to meditate can be beneficial.

Practically, there are some steps that can be helpful for Christian meditation:

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you Scripture, convict you of sin, and give you a heart to lovingly obey Jesus.
2. Memorize a word, verse, phrase, chapter, or scene of Scripture that bites you.
3. Write it out in your own words, seeking to grasp the full meaning of what is said.
4. Ask yourself what is revealed about God.
5. Repent of any sin that the Holy Spirit convicts you of.
6. Pray for anyone or anything that the Holy Spirit brings to mind.
7. Determine what God would have you to do in obedience to His Word.

Summary

Meditation is not complicated or mysterious. It can be done anywhere at any time by anyone with a heart to know God better and become more like Jesus. The result is that God the Holy Spirit will honor our time and make the written Word become for us a living Word that transforms our hearts, minds, and lives.

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“Honest prayer unmasks your real need and puts you in the presence of a rich Christ who wants to meet you as you really are — ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ (Rev. 3:17).”

– C. John Miller, Repentance and 21st Century Man (Fort Washington, Pa.: CLC Publications, 1980), 103.

HT: Of First Importance

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12

 O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
   Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,

   and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Psalm 141:1-2 

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Revelation 8:3-4

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thristy for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for futher grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still.” ~A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

 

“Within this narrow house of my body, this tenement of clay, if I be a true believer, there dwells the Holy Ghost, and when I desire to pray I may ask him what I should pray for as I ought, and he will help me. He will write the prayers which I ought to offer upon the tablets of my heart, and I shall see them there, and so I shall be taught how to plead. It will be the Spirit’s own self pleading in me, and by me, and through me, before the throne of grace.” ~Charles Spurgeon, The Holy Spirit’s Intercession

“Coming events cast their shadows before them, and when God is about to bless his people his coming favour casts the shadow of prayer over the church. When he is about to favour an individual he casts the shadow of hopeful expectation over his soul. Our prayers, let men laugh at them as they will, and say there is no power in them, are the indicators of the movement of the wheels of Providence. Believing supplications are forecasts of the future, He who prayeth in faith is like the seer of old, he sees that which is to be: his holy expectancy, like a telescope, brings distant objects near to him.”~Charles Spurgeon, The Holy Spirit’s Intercession

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One response to this post.

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