Meditate on the Word
And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
(Luke 7:19 NKJV)
John the Baptist was fully aware of who Jesus was. He grew up knowing it. He leaped in his mother’s womb when in the presence of Jesus. John’s ministry in the wilderness was preaching about Christ. He baptized Jesus and affirmed his belief with the announcement, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
John knows who Jesus is, but John’s faith is no longer in the wilderness; now it’s in prison. He’s facing death and he knows it. Here in prison, his faith is being challenged. He tells one of his followers to go find Jesus and ask him, “Are You the One? Or should we look for another?”
Some people would say this is John giving over to the fragility of his faith. I don’t subscribe to that. He’s not losing faith. He’s growing faith. Why? Because he’s wrestling. He is questioning. He is fighting. He’s trying to figure it out. He’s screaming back at his doubts, “I know that Jesus is real, even though I’m stuck in prison. I know that Jesus is real even though I feel that my life is ebbing away from me.” John is essentially asking Jesus, “You’ve still got me, right?” This is not doubt. It’s mediating the conversation in one’s head and in one’s spirit.
Whatever else is going on in your life and in your mind, here’s my admonishment, my encouragement to you: stay in the conversation.
Don’t withdraw from the challenge. I don’t care how hard it gets. I don’t care how much your uncertainties are screaming at you. I don’t care if they’re winning the debate today as long as you wake up tomorrow and you bring your certainties back to the conversation again.
Whatever else, no matter how fragile you feel, no matter how weak, no matter how you seem to be in a losing position, at least make this one assertion: “Regardless of how strong my uncertainty is, I’m not leaving the conversation.”
The questions you are asking and the feelings you are nurturing, the ambiguity and the presence of pain, the self-doubt, the personal disappointment, the fear, the anger you’re trying to make sense of… all of these things are forcing a conversation that is necessary for your growth. So stay at it, because just by staying in the conversation, your faith will be deepened.
Meditate on the Word
"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”
(Psalm 119:148 NIV)
You become what you muse over.
You are what you think, reflect, and meditate on.
That means you’ve got to let God’s Word speak louder into your life than anything or anybody else. God invites you to come inside, to meditate on His words, and to be impacted by that shift of thought. We are called to live from the inside out, and that means we have to change what we muse over. When I say “meditate,” what do I mean?
• I’m not talking about merely quieting your life down and being less busy, though that has value.
• I’m not suggesting a weekend without TV or cell phone, though that certainly couldn’t hurt.
• I’m not referring to a time away from human interaction, though that can also be worthwhile.
• And I don’t mean a day at home to stay in bed and rest, though you may need that as well.
I’m talking about coming inside your life to squeeze the words of God, like squeezing juice from a fruit, so that you can extract the robustness of what God has intended for you.
Meditation is not a duty, task, or chore. It is a joy—because any time you deeply reflect on God and His unfailing Word, you will hear and see and experience something that’s going to change your life forever.
You have to make yourself a priority enough to care about what you feed your own life. You may not be able to stop what other people shove in your direction, but you can certainly decide what you are going to feed yourself. All the noise and drama that floats around your life should push you to go inside and to be a good steward over what you feed your inner life.
If you want the best for your life, it necessitates that you feed your life the Word and the ways of God. As a result, when evil wants to root itself in your life, it’s going to have to deal with the presence of a sovereign God who brings all His power to bear on your spiritual wellbeing.
Care enough about your life to be intentional about what you’re feed yourself spiritually. Nourish your heart, mind, and soul with the Word of God.
A Little Leaven
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
(Matthew 13:33 NKJV)
Jesus shares a short but powerful parable to give us an image of the transforming power of the gospel.
The message of His parable is that any exposure at all to the gospel has the power to totally transform a person’s life. Just as faith only needs to be in small measure to invoke mammoth change, the same holds true for the gospel. Any amount of saturation of the gospel in one’s life can transform it entirely. That’s the power of the kingdom of God. That’s the power of a gospel that announces and proclaims the love and the salvation found in Christ alone.
Jesus images it like this: a woman wants to make bread and has many pounds of fresh dough. In order to get that dough to rise, she takes some fermenting acidic dough from a previous batch and she skillfully and carefully kneads it in, knowing that this leaven will make the whole lump rise.
That’s it. This simple picture tells us that the kingdom revealed and accepted—even in small embrace, with small amounts of belief—has the power to transform. Encountering Jesus in any fashion has enormous impact. It can have “raising” capacity in ways that the human mind cannot imagine.
• Raising awareness of the need to settle matters that deal with eternal possibilities.
• Raising acceptance of divine intentionality connected to your human journey.
• Raising internal awareness of spiritual gifts and graces that are to be lived out in relational exchanges with others.
Jesus brings raising power to the life of a believer. The encouragement of this is significant because it suggests to us all that any exposure to the promises of God, any practice of the discipline of prayer, any time spent in the Word of God, any minute offered to meditate about God’s presence in your life, is enough to start a raising process that can make the rest of your life an abundant life with kingdom-size impact.
How will you work some of that leaven into the dough of your life today?
Challenges Deepen Faith
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,”
Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
(John 4:48 NIV)
In John 4, Jesus makes an indicting statement to the crowd of people gathered about Him. He says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”
In other words, “You watch Me perform and you become softened through your amazement of My displays of power. Those things may be necessary to get your attention, but you cannot live in this world on spiritual performance alone.”
Signs and wonders are not enough to answer the hard questions in life. They can't be trusted to keep you standing in the fierce winds of life's adversities. Without true faith, you can make a lot of noise and generate excitement about spiritual performance, but you can't release a lot of conviction about who God is and what God means to you.
Without faith, you'll be an impressive shadow boxer in the ring of life, displaying superlative skill because there is no opponent in front of you. But if a strong adversary like Satan stands opposite you, you are going to need a whole lot more than amazement or appreciation for spiritual performance.
Faith has so much more to it. And in order to tap it, the Lord will challenge it. Perhaps the Lord is challenging you today because He knows your faith has more potential. Perhaps His answers to your prayers are not going to look like you imagine them to be. Perhaps He plans to meet your needs—but in surprising and unexpected ways that prove to you that you weren't thinking deep enough, high enough, or wide enough.
Your faith isn’t going to grow only by the splendor of performance. You won't grow and mature if God just gives you signs and wonders.
God essentially says, “My goal is not just to have you experience mouth dropping, eye-opening, applauding kind of demonstrations. I'm pushing you so that we can get your faith to a place where if nothing around you amazing is happening, you can still be satisfied in trusting My word and My promises. I’m going to challenge your faith.”
Are you up for the challenge?
Slow Your Life Down
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
(Psalm 119:15 NKJV)
You will only survive difficult times and emerge better from them if you heed the psalmist’s warning that your power and purpose, your strength and energy, your vision and passion are only as strong as who you meditate on and what you contemplate.
The strength of your person, the focus of your vision, the understanding of your call, and the proper interpretation of all your experiences are either strengthened or weakened by the degree of internal surrender you offer to God. I’m talking about the inside labor you put into your spiritual development and maturation.
So the question is this: what is the condition of your inner life?
I don't want to know how in shape you are. I don't want to know how your bank account is doing. I don't want to know how secure your job is. I don't want to know how stable your relationships are. What I want to know is, what’s the condition of your inside reality?
The invitation God is extending to you right now is to slow your life down. Learn to value the prayer room as much as you crave the public stage. Turn your focus to the inside, where listening becomes more important than speaking. Slow your life down so you can value precepts more than punchlines, and so God can help you extract the value out of your lived experiences.
The psalmist teaches us that you must focus on the inside so you can stop being defined by what you battle and instead be defined by what you meditate on. You’ll notice in Psalm 119 that the psalmist’s focus doesn’t dwell on his enemies, on threats from foreign adversaries, or on the peril that lingers ever so close. None of that is mentioned. Instead, we only hear about what the psalmist is meditating over: the precepts and the ways of the Lord. Because the Word of God is what the psalmist meditates on, the battles are not even worth talking about.
If you meditate on God’s Word, your battles become nothing more than interim engagements in route to the fulfillment of God's purposes.
Slow your life down, turn your focus inward, and meditate on God’s Word today.