Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meditate Day and Night? (Psalms 1)

It has been my experience that when ungodly counsel is received, ingested, and digested, it becomes a part of me. I begin to think less about how wrong it is, and accept it simply as part of who I am. I have slowed any movement towards God, and have no problem justifying and excusing my sin in every way. Eventually, the result is blindness to the sin and its' negative effects.

Definitely a state of being 'unblessed'.

So, how can I avoid this? It seems that there is only one way: taking delight in communication from God and mediating on God's Word day and night. This moves me in the right direction.

Reading, gaining knowledge of, and meditating on God's Word is the only way to ensure that we are on the right path of being blessed.
In my online study of Psalms 1, the question is asked, "Assessing your current level of delight in God's Word, where are you, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a very low delight in God's Word and 10 being an intense desire for and delight in it?"

This was a tough question. It's not a '1', but it's certainly not a '10' either.

So, how can I change this? For me, it is simply a matter of discipline. It's a choice to pick up my Bible, read something, and purpose to think about it throughout the day. One of my favorite things to do is read a verse or story from the Bible then go for a jog. While jogging, I will think about what I read from every angle that I can think of. It is amazing some of the insight that has come from that time of meditation.

But, there are many other ways to discipline ourselves to think about God's Word. Here's what works for me:
--Journal my thoughts about what I read.
--Discuss it with someone. (not an argument!)
--And probably the most powerful: Ask myself questions about the text.

For instance, as I meditated on Psalms 1, I spent a long time asking questions about the first verse: What is blessed? What is counsel of the ungodly? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What is the seat of the scornful? What is the main thrust of the verse? What are the verbs that stand out and why are they used? Why use 'walk', 'stand', and 'sit'??

The more questions that are asked of the text, the more you will get into God's Word. (The best commentary on the Bible, is the Bible itself. There is always another verse somewhere that will help in understanding what you are currently reading. Simply asking myself that 'blessed' meant, led me to look up everywhere in the Bible where that word was used…well, most everywhere.)

By the way, I would be interested to know what works for others....

If we hope to be blessed by God and grow in Christ, it is absolutely essential that we hunger and thirst after God's Word, and learn to delight in it. Too many believers have an appetite for the Word only sporadically. Growth will come only as we choose to discipline ourselves to live in the Word day by day. If we will continue to do this, eventually we will find ourselves delighting, and finding pleasure in it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Recognizing Ungodly Counsel (Psalms1)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..etc; and, he created man and put him in the garden. And "God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'

Out of man, he created woman and all was well--until one day, apparently in the middle of the garden…

1 ¶ Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"

2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;

3 "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.

5 "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 ¶ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Ungodly counsel is rarely bold, in your face, extreme stuff…not at first anyway. In order to slip in under the radar of our spiritual conscience, it must be cunning and crafty. It must appeal to us in some way in the natural realm so that to us, it is a natural, harmless choice.

The very first communication that we know of from the Ungodly One was a question: "Has God really said…?" At first, Eve was quick with a response…a pretty good one, I think. She repeated God's command about the tree in the middle of the Garden. However, this type of question can instill doubt if not immediately rejected. Anytime we find ourselves asking a question like this, it should be a red flag. It would be much better to ask, "What does God really say about ______?" Then dig in and find out…

The next words from the Ungodly One were a direct statement against what God said: 'You will not surely die'. Had he stopped here, it might have been ok, I don't know. But he went on: "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

I am not sure what it is, but there is something in that statement that touched a desire in Eve and moved her away from Godly counsel (blessed) and towards ungodly counsel. (unblessed) Was it the desire to have her eyes opened? To be like God? To know good and evil? Was it simply the idea that God was not telling her everything? Or a little of everything?

I don't know. But I think it is in all of us. As I look back over my life, the main times that I paid more attention to ungodly counsel began with a question; such as—Is it really like that? Is this really so bad? Did God really say ________?

Once the questions begin, the disguised inward sinful desires kick in and our flesh takes over. What amazes me the most--is something that we all do: God had given them every tree in the garden except one. What is it that they went after the one thing that they were not supposed to do? Didn't they have plenty? Why chase the one thing that we are not supposed to do???

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world––the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life––is not of the Father but is of the world.

Eve saw that the tree was:

Good for food…Lust of the flesh
Pleasant to the eyes…Lust of the eyes
Desirable to make one wise…Pride of Life
All ungodly counsel seems to fit in one of these categories. Satan even tried these tactics in tempting Jesus - Mt 4:1-11

1. "Command that these stones become bread" (lust of the flesh)
2. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down..." (pride of life)
3. "All these things I will give you if..." (lust of the eyes)

Today, Satan still uses these tactics tempting people most commonly through...
1. Immorality (lust of the flesh) "If it makes me feel good, it's ok"
2. Materialism (lust of the eyes) "I want it, and I will get it"
3. Arrogance (pride of life) "It's my life, and I will do what I want, when I want"

In order to recognize ungodly counsel and stay away from it, we must understand that it appeals to our natural desires and can sometimes be very difficult to separate. There is nothing wrong with good food, unless God says don't eat it. There's nothing wrong with looking at pleasant things, unless it goes against something God as said. There is nothing wrong with gaining wisdom and knowledge, unless it goes against the wisdom and knowledge of God…

"And she took of its fruit and ate."

Then, as most of us do, she offered her sin to another (Adam), and he accepted.

"She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate"

And in a moment, the authority that God had given Adam and Eve on the earth, was stolen by Satan; and, it all started by questioning God's Word--the beginning of ungodly counsel.