The Meditations of my Heart

Original URL | Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Transcript

what i hope to do is talk a little bit about this idea of meditation

and i think it’s particularly important because we seem to be experiencing an epidemic of mental health issues uh it’s an issue that i’ve personally struggled with that sandy struggled with i think that um these are things that uh impact if not ourselves people we know and people we love and in today’s day and age i would say you know and i’m just sort of speaking personally i think that we have or at least i have more things competing for my attention

than ever before

um

and you might find the same in your own life um

we have we carry in our pockets a telephone that gives us access to our friends and our family but also gives us access to you know every computer in the world and these things compete for our time and they compete for our attention and and it’s a problem that’s so large that you know articles and books and techniques have been written and developed to help overcome this modern problem and i do think it’s a it’s probably a modern problem right now for example the apple iphone

recently came out with an update and in this update there are settings that they describe as focus settings are you familiar with this

so the focus setting allows you to set your alerts and your notifications in a specific way you can tell your phone that okay i’m for the next eight hours i’m going to be at work

and because i’m at work i don’t want to receive any social media notifications on my phone that might otherwise distract me from doing what i’m being paid to do

uh similarly um you know if you are driving you can set up the settings on your phone so that you are not distracted

uh while so that you’re not tempted to you know get on the internet uh text people look at photographs that sort of thing that’s one of these settings and you know the only reason of course these things have come out is because there’s so much demand for it people are truly struggling it’s something that i’ve struggled with it’s a challenge for me personally and i found it particularly difficult at times

because these distractions have negatively impacted my ability to i think you know do the best i can for my clients when i’m at work at times and probably they have uh reduced my interactions with my family and my friends because i am uh sometimes you know having a conversation with sandy but on the uh out of the corner of my eye i’m checking a text message from a friend and you know you you might uh

you might experience the same thing as i’m sure you have right i mean all of us have been on a telephone call with somebody and you just know that they’re not there at the other end of the line and sometimes we can see that when we’re obviously you know at dinner with a friend who is constantly checking his phone and things like that

so um

that’s really what has driven me to that’s one of the reasons that’s driven me to this subject of meditation uh there are things like the settings on your phone the app settings that will help you reduce distractions and notifications i’ve tried things there’s something called the pomodoro method has anybody heard of that

did anybody know what the pomodoro method is

uh the pomodoro method was this was this idea that you would set aside a period and i think they they refer to it as you know i think it’s exactly 12 minutes and they would give you a timer that you could put on your desk and you’d say okay for the next 12 minutes i’m gonna do nothing

except the task that i have set out to do no matter what i’m gonna just focus on this task for the next 12 minutes and at the end of that 12 minute period then i will allow myself to get up to get distracted to do something and then i’m going to come back to my desk and set another 12-minute pomodoro time you know and so that’s an idea that folks have used and i think have used somewhat effectively another approach that uh that i’ve tried and i think i’ve used successfully is one of meditation in the morning

i was introduced to the concept of guided meditation

uh when i attended we were audrey and i were talking about bible school before class but when i attended the um the west coast bible school the manuka bible school one evening they had a they had an evening program it was sort of an optional thing right before bed and they had a volunteer who led those who wanted in some guided meditation

has anybody uh anybody ever done that

audrey you have okay i i’ve done it yeah jason’s done it it’s kind of an interesting thing um

the the the leader of this uh program led us through a series of mental exercises

to help us let go of distracting thoughts

you know it was it was almost as though the thoughts were to be like a cloud in the sky and the goal was to do nothing except focus on a particular activity such as breathing so let’s use breathing as an example i’m going to focus on my breath and only my breath

and when inevitably thoughts come into the mind as they would normally do you know you’re thinking about uh you know did i did i leave the stove on at work or i need to make sure that i reach out to such and such a client or i have to prepare my bible class whenever these thoughts come into our mind we have to acknowledge them let them go like a cloud drifting off into the into the expanse of the sky and get back to the focus of breathing

and this process they said was designed to help us to

you know designed to teach us to let go of anxious thoughts and let go of thoughts that might otherwise distract us from what’s

important at the time

so um

i have used this this process in the past i found it helpful uh sometimes i it’s worked so well that i stopped doing it you know this is something my dad and i used to talk about you know we would work we worked together for years there’d be something i’d do at work and it would be working really well and then for whatever reason i stopped i’d get out of the habit right and maybe that’s true with you but with for me i might start these ideas of guided meditation or the ideas of you know keeping a gratitude journal and i’d be all you know doing it all the time and then i i you know i get out of the habit because of a variety of reasons

uh there are programs right now that anybody can subscribe to com companies like headspace will lead you in things like guided meditation and what i want to do right now is when we talk about breathing

right and this was sort of the focus of this type of meditation i want to bring you to a passage in the psalms

it’s uh it’s found in psalms 8 and verse 2. and in this particular psalm it’s talking about the breath of infants

as being a mechanism of praise for god

and during this uh

this program at the manuka bible school this was one of the passages that uh the brother brought us to and i and it’s made an impact on me and i remember my son paul once uh gave a devotion about this particular passage so uh since paul is a new dad it may be something i can chat with him about again but let me just read it it’s psalm 8 we’ll read the first two verses

o lord our lord or o yahweh our lord how majestic is your name in all the earth you’ve set your glory above the heavens

from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise

so

from the lips of infants you have ordained praise and i guess the question that my son paul asked me was dad

how does a an infant of a mere you know day old

praise god in heaven

and his thought at the time this was years ago his thought was

that the mere breathing of anyone

reminds him of the memorial name of our god

yah way you know breathing in and breathing out now that may be too touchy feely for you but i thought it was really an interesting way to think about this concept of breathing that when we’re focusing on our breath it’s not about us that we might necessarily be thinking about that this is a way that we can focus on our god

so there are these are the the objective now of this type of meditation which i think for me has been helpful

was to sort of empty the mind of all distracting thoughts

but i want to draw a distinction brothers and sisters between this type of what i might refer to as eastern meditation

and what i think we see oftentimes in the bible what i will refer to as biblical meditation and i think there is a difference between the two

and don’t get me wrong i i do think that there is a benefit to this you know guided type of meditation focusing on breath letting go of distracting thoughts

but i think that the biblical medic meditation that we read about in the psalms and throughout other parts of the scripture is a little bit different it’s not about emptying the mind of thoughts

but instead it’s almost like just the opposite it’s about filling the mind

with godly thoughts

and i’ll draw your attention to a passage that’s probably well known it’s it’s found in philippians

uh this is a passage that i can’t come to without thinking about uh

brother bob lloyd because it was one of his favorites it’s uh philippians chapter four

and we’re going to look at the eighth

verse that’s not it

oh it is philippians 4 verse 8. finally brothers

finally sisters

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

you know there’s an another version that uses the expression dwell

on these things

so it’s not about emptying our minds of different thoughts it’s about filling our minds with godly things those things that are pure those things that are noble and right and and lovely and admirable

you know there’s something special about i find it anyway about being outside at night

when you see the starry host i think it’s

it’s amazing you know and in certain parts of the country i bob eagles i remember he used to go up to the northeast kingdom and uh cnn and i were up there last summer

and boy there’s no light pollution up there and uh you know the it gets dark at night and the stars come out and it’s just remarkable and i just feel so close to god when you see those sorts of things

one of the things that i read about with regard to the word meditation from the psalms is the hebrew word

and i’ll probably butcher it

is is translated to murmur

in pleasure or agony you know and uh

by implication to ponder to imagine meditate mourn mutter to speak um

and so when you were talking about ecstasy i just wondered if that hebrew word has anything in connection with it i don’t know

yeah by the by the look on your face you seem that it’s a rather dubious uh i don’t know uh that that word is the word that’s used in genesis where

isaac was out meditating in the field when uh uh

eliezer

brought back rebecca and they met yeah i think that’s actually a different word based on my research but i could be wrong uh no it’s swatch

in genesis 24. anyway stephen did you have your hand raised again yeah

i just occurred to me um

where somebody goes

and all of a sudden you say to somebody are you here and they’re not paying attention to you

i i hear that a lot yeah yeah sometimes yes but still it it’s kind of interesting because somebody is just off somewhere and they’re thinking about something else so it’s just kind of interesting in that thing it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re thinking about spiritual things but yeah nonetheless they’re thinking about something else was it my dad last week i remember my dad was talking about one of his golf buddies was talking about him buffering like he was someplace else and his mind was buffering on the thought

so what i’d like to do now is i’d like to sort of transition into uh you know maybe i don’t know how to frame it now david after your comment about it not being about emptying one’s mind but um you know i wanna i wanna talk about you know that’s that next step maybe to use your description david about how the the idea of this type of meditation is to put us in a place where we can focus better on you know i think you use the idea of theological concepts or something like that you know so once we’re in a space where we can think about these things what does the bible teach us what does it tell us about meditating

so there are a couple of things last night

in boston we had our

our arranging board meeting we meet every other every other month on a tuesday night and one of the things that we do is we begin our meeting with a reading from the bible and jason selected the reading last week jason what was

it you got to put yourself on uh off a mute there young man sorry sorry three years on zoom come on i know i know i was meditating yeah are you there

i’m buffering

yeah so do you remember what the reading was uh psalms uh one verses one uh through three right and so this is i think a very famous verse on meditation and i’d like to read it it says uh 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

so this is now you know focused attention on a particular thing and what the psalmist is talking about here is the one who pleases god who is meditating on his law

now brian i remember uh you gave a class on the law

and uh how did you define the law it was his what

you’re on mute too i know rookies [Laughter]

it doesn’t work so well to switch from a bible program back to zoom yeah i know that’s right but

um

to instruction directions yeah i’m just thinking of the word teachings right yep yep exactly yeah so you know we’re meditating now so here in in psalm 1 the idea is to is to focus our attention on a specific thing and in this case it’s on the teachings of god what is it that god teaches us and so when i am now thinking about jesus going up into the mountains to pray all night long perhaps it’s those sorts of things that he’s thinking about the teachings of god and how to apply those things to his life and how to teach others of these things and how to honor his god through these teachings so that’s that’s that’s one idea that we are actually meditating on the teachings of god but

there are a couple other things that we’re told to meditate about

i’ll have you turn we’ll stay in the psalms we’re going to go to two spots now uh the the first place will go is psalm 63 and

this is a passage where we are to meditate about god himself

so in in psalm 1 we were thinking about you know god’s word or god’s teachings or god’s law here in psalm 63 the idea is to meditate on god himself or in my mind on god’s character on his personality on his goodness his kindness his mercy so here we are um

and i’ll pick it up in

verse six

on my bed

i remember you

i think of you through the watches of the night

because you are my help i will sing the shadow of your wings

my soul clings to you your right hand upholds me and the point that i’m trying to draw out by coming to this psalm is this i is really two things one the psalmist here is talking about meditating

on his bed

throughout the watches of the night and what is it that he’s meditating on he’s remembering god i will remember you

and i just think that’s a uh that’s a that’s a a wonderful idea that as we are laying in bed as we awake in the middle of the night with some worry or some concern that we might put ourselves back to sleep thinking about the god who loves us who gave his son for us who uh you know who wants to and desires to give us his kingdom um the characteristics of god is a wonderful thing to ponder

um

psalm 77 is a is a psalm written by asa

and asaph was uh really struggling he was uh i don’t know whether he was in the midst of depression or whether he was just filled with uh disappointment or you know i don’t know what his situation was

but the beginning of this psalm

he really empties himself before god

um i cried out to god for help i cried out to god to hear me when i was in distress i sought the lord at night i stretched out untiring hands

and my soul refused to be comforted i remembered you oh god and i groaned i mused and my spirit grew faint it was as though you know he was offering these uh thoughts he was offering these prayers but it was of no help to him

verse four you uh i’m sorry verse three i remembered you god oh god and i groaned i mused and my spirit grew faint

and then the psalmist includes the word salah

sandy’s on tonight i think she’s upstairs but uh

when sandy reads the the words say law she sometimes says to me you know i think of it as the word breathe

just

take a pause

take a breath

and it gives you know it now allows you to sort of contemplate those things and move on and as this psalm moves on

he says you kept my eyes from closing i was too troubled to speak

i thought about the former days the years of long ago i remembered my songs in the night my heart mused and my spirit inquired will the lord reject me forever

will he never show his favor again has his unfailing love vanished forever has his promise failed for all time has god forgotten to be merciful

has his anger withheld his compassion

breathe

then i thought and what happens next and is his focus now changes from his internal struggles from whatever it was that he was thinking about himself

and now his focus changes to one where he’s thinking about god he’s meditating on godly thoughts godly ways

to this i will appeal the years of the right hand of the most high what were the things that god did with his right hand i will remember the deeds of the lord so we talk about meditation brothers and sisters we talked about two things already one was meditating on the teachings of god the second was meditating on the character of god and here in psalm 77 we see asaph meditating on the deeds the actions of god i remember the deeds of yahweh yes i will remember your miracles of long ago i’ll meditate on all the your works and consider all your mighty ds your ways o god are holy and then the balance of the psalm is this you know outward meditation about the praiseworthy things

that god has done

um

there’s a terrific article by brother richard morgan in this month’s tidings magazine about this psalm

and i would really encourage you all to read it i found it hugely beneficial and for me meditating

can sometimes be guided by reading articles by people like brother richard or i listened to a podcast the other day with our friend brother uh mark vincent um these are these are additional helps that i have found to thinking about godly thoughts removing the distractions of the world and i just share that as sort of a practical thing for you so that’s a that’s a third type of meditation meditation on the words of god and the deeds rather the deeds of god

i’m going to look at one more passage this is psalm 111. psalm 111 is another passage that focuses on the work of god it’s the second verse praise yahweh i will extol yahweh with all my heart in the counsel of the upright in the assembly great are the works of the lord

they are pondered by all who delight in them

so in the chat box elena typed in it was amazing she’s she was referring to uh the stars that she and gary saw when they were out in utah she says i saw the milky way for the first time uh for me you know i love to be out outdoors and uh saw the hymn 110 you know when i survey what is it uh the the works of god um i mean these are the things that cause me to just feel god’s presence in my life and these are ways that i truly um am encouraged in my walk to um to remember that we have a creator who has done all these things and loves us cares for us

so i think that’s what i wanted to focus on tonight this idea of meditation