Return to 'Recent Sermons'
Discipleship - Meditation

Sunday, 2nd December, 2007

 Penny for thoughts?


So what are you thinking?


What’s on your mind?


Today we explore an area of our lives we reckon to be our own territory. Private and personal. Our thought –life. YOU might be sitting thinking, he’s got a nerve to start talking about what we should think! Sounds like a control freak. And so it is, except that it lies at the heart of our relationship with God. God sees through the middle-class façade and right into your mind. Yes, he knows exactly what you are thinking NOW.


Meditation sounds Eastern to us these days. But relax, I am not about to teach you the lotus position and a mantra for spiritual growth. No! We are going much further than that. We are looking at using meditation as a tool for disciplining the mind and heart so that we are in tune with God.


Actually our tradition is very strong on meditation. The brethren have similar roots to the Quakers. We believe in the value of meditation and even group meditation. That is what you are invited to this evening. Our open worship communion is a time when we meditate together. And if you are serious about meditation, tonight would be a great place to start because it demonstrates the key principles of Christian meditation. But we will get to that.


 But let’s start with what God asks of us. In Deuteronomy we read these words:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

            Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.


Deuteronomy 6 verse 4 page 185


I was looking at these words, which are called the 'Shema' after the first word in Hebrew “Hear” and I discovered that the final word translated here as Strength is better translated as vehemence, or wholly. It is a superlative. So it could be fanatically, except that the word fanatic now carries the idea of suicidal murder and abuse of others. But is not just physical strength, it is also mental energy. So it now makes sense that when Jesus quoted this verse he said:

 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'



Matthew 22 verse 37 (NIV) page 991


 And that is what we exploring today. How do we love the Lord our God with all our mind?


The key reference comes right at the beginning of Psalms which is a sort of guide to meditation. After all it a book of poems which explore God and the nature of our relationship with him.

Anyway, Psalm 1 reads

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.


 First it tells us what meditation is not:

It is not found in following meditation as found in other religions and applied to Christians. Yoga, TM, and the like are not paths we should tread.

Secondly it is not done sitting in front of the TV or reading the paper.

Thirdly it is not hanging about with non-Christian friends. That is an important part of your telling the Good News but you also need to spend time on your relationship with God.


 So what is it?   First and foremost is is delighting in God and his Law or as we would put it, his word the Bible. Christian meditation is primarily about meditating on God and developing our relationship with him. So it is the opposite to other forms of meditation. You are not seeking to empty your mind but fill it. You do have to deal with the things that rightly and wrongly fill your mind and in that sense we will empty our minds but you start with the purpose of directing your mind into worship and revelation and discovering more about God and more about Jesus and more about the Holy Spirit. So you will probably have a Bible open when you meditate. It may be part of your ‘quiet time’ so as you have prayed and read God’s word, you give yourself time to meditate on it. You might want to have a verse of scripture with you in the car, so that when you are waiting your turn to get under South Ruislip Bridge you can meditate on that verse. Far healthy than getting wound up and meditating on how stupid every other driver is and how you are going to explain why you are late.

 Secondly it is a special time but it is also a 24/7 experience. We are to meditate day and night. But although this is real struggle, the rewards are great.

 In the New Testament this finds expression as

Be joyful always,

pray continually;

give thanks in all circumstances...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 page 1188

So we add to meditating on God’s word being consciously joyful, being at continuous prayer and thankful. And these, remember, are meant to be our permanent state of mind. How far we are from what God intends us to be. What evil fills our hearts and minds and clouds our days! Is it no wonder we are such weak and cheerless Christians! God has given us his Son that we might live and we are occupied with every sort of though except him.


We know how to meditate but we meditate on the wrong things! We call it worry and meditate endlessly and needlessly, often, on what might happen. We call it fantasizing and fill our minds with dreams where every desire we have is satisfied whether sexual, health, power, wealth or egotism and we then struggle to concentrate for 10 minutes in prayer and Bible reading and wonder why our lives are lacklustre. We need to repent from the sin that invades our minds and blights our spirits.


So what I am suggesting is that we need to practise repentance by setting out to follow the Jesus way. To do that we need to set time to formally do meditation and then expand that meditation so that it fills our lives. That is not saying that we will all end up sitting around meditating all day but that we will be constantly in the presence of God. In and out of meditation as our lives go on around us so that we have the inner peace that every religion using meditation says you can get. Your inner peace is Jesus. Even if your mind is a storm, Jesus has made your peace with God. If you have trusted him in repentance and faith, you are at peace. What we need to do is experience that peace.


 Rather than talk about it lets actually try it.

Here we are the verse I have just mentioned.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.


What I want you to do is follow a series of actions to help your mind carry out the discipline of meditation. The actions have no value in themselves but are there to assist our minds.

So sit up, make your self comfortable. You are not going to slouch because this is not rest. Get your bottom in the back of the seat, your legs uncrossed and your feet firmly on the floor.


Comfortable? Well get yourself comfortable!


Lets ask the Lord to use this exercise to bring glory to him.


Next we are going to do a bit of emptying the mind. Let thoughts run through your mind and release them.

Open your hands out in front of you as if you are releasing whatever you were holding.


You may want to close your eyes but let go of the embarrassment of looking silly because Phil has these mad ideas, let go of thoughts about lunch. By the way it’s a good idea to have a notebook handy to write down all the things that rush into your mind at this point so you can release them on paper but not forget them. 


Now release your anxieties. The Bible say in 1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Jesus because he cares for you. So hand him your family, next weeks events, Sunday lunch, your health. Each time act out physically handing it over releasing it to Jesus. Pray, silently. Say thank you for taking this burden from me. I release it to your care.


Next repent!

Let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the sin in your life. Satan will do it to knock you so remember that God if faithful and just and will forgive us from ALL sin and cleanse us from unrighteousness.


If nothing comes to mind don’t make it up and list all the sins you confessed earlier. They were dealt with then. By the way if an anxiety has just popped into your mind deal with it. That is why it takes time. Which we haven’t got this morning but as each interruption occurs, deal with it. Don’t panic, it absolutely normal when meditating for everything to crowd the mind.


Turn your hands as if you were about to receive.

Now  listen to those words again.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

What comes to mind? What sounds good to you? What questions rise up?  Are you experiencing it for yourself? If not why not? How does it feel? What does these words lead me to do? What do these words lead me to receive? Receive it once again.


It talks of peace. What does peace with God mean here and now? What does it mean for the future?  Enjoy what Jesus did in bringing peace.


It talks of access. Into grace. Imagine opening the door. What sort of image does a roomful of grace bring to mind?


Just let your mind concentrate on these words and if you are distracted, release what has come to mind or repent and receive forgiveness.


<wait two minutes>


Now thank God for what he means to you.


 See a few simple steps enable us to make a start.

Clearly there is a lot more exploring of God than this. If we are reading the gospels, we can use our imagination to feel what it was like to be one of the crowd, to sense the waves lapping by Galilee, or feel the tension as Jesus is challenged about the Sabbath and so on.


We can explore all parts of our mind, asking God to cleanse an renew it. And we can tackle those things which disturb us. But remember, meditation is to be absorbed in God and seeking his healing in our minds, we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.


Interestingly I have 3 books on the subject and two have reference to this church or West London churches. Enjoying God by Andrew Brandon, who has spoken here, with a forward by Roger Forster, Biblical meditation by Alec Buchanan, who was in fellowship here many years ago, A celebration of Discipline by Richard Forster looks at this subject along with others, like fasting, prayer,etc.


But books are not meditation. We need to practice it. And that means turning off the TV, putting down the paper, and meditating. The rewards are an enrichment of your spiritual life. But be warned, enriching your spiritual life means leaving the old self to die and the new nature to be nurtured. So if you want to hang on to your anxieties and fantasies and so on, don’t meditate on Jesus. But if you are in that position, repent! and do the things which Jesus called you to do. Enjoy him. He is your praise. If you want to know more, be here tonight and experience open worship as we meditate on God and on Jesus and enjoy the new life we have in Christ again. Then go home and find times to do it alone.

Return to top