Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Devotional 070710

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I thank God for giving me a good night sleep last night. That means I have recovered from my jetlag. Praise the Lord! And next week is another trip to Asia that needs your prayer support again. But His grace is always sufficient for His servants. In my experience, the more I focused on God and His word through prayer and meditation, the more strength and healing power I received from above.

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 19:14). As we prepare to pray, to answer the words God addresses to us, we learn that all of God’s words have this characteristic: they are torah (the Law or Principles of God) and we are the target. God s word is not a reference book in a library that we pull off the shelf when want information. There is nothing lifeless or bookish in these words. God’s words, creating and saving words every one, hit us where we live.

The moment we know this that God speaks to us, delight is spontaneous. “The psalms are the liturgy for those whose concern and delight is the torah of the Lord” [James Luther May]. These are not words that we laboriously but impersonally study, as if for an exam. These are not words that we anxiously examine lest we unintentionally disobey a boundary or break a protocol. These are words we take in—words designed for shaping new life in us, feeding the energies of salvation. This delight develops into meditation, torah-meditation. Meditate {hagah} is a bodily action; it involves murmuring and mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, getting the feel of the meaning as the syllables are shaped by larynx and tongue and lips. Isaiah used this word “meditate” for the sounds that a lion makes over its prey (Isaiah. 31:4). A lion over its catch and a person over the torah act similarly. They purr and growl in pleasurable anticipation of taking in what will make them more themselves, fulfilling, strong, lithe, and swift: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free (enlarge my capacity of understanding)!” (Ps. 119:32).

This is quite different from merely reading God’s word, or thinking about it. This is not so much an intellectual process, figuring our meanings, as it is a physical process, hearing and rehearing these words as we sound them again, letting the sounds sink into our muscles and bones. Meditation is mastication or chewing food in your mouth. This concept is similar to what Prophet Ezekiel was asked to do, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 3:1). Apostle John shared similar experience from God, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey” (Revelation 10:9b). Apparently they were challenged not to physically swallow the scroll into their stomach. They were asked to “devour” the word of God like the way we devour our favorite food. The word of God will enter into our soul like food into our body that turns into energy and all kinds of nourishments. Meditation is this “craving” and “devouring” of God’s words.

Once we have the habit of enjoying the word of God through meditation, we can understand and say the same phrase to Satan like Christ, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We enlarge our appetite for God’s words as we develop the habit of enjoying the spiritual banquet from above. The more you eat, the larger the capacity of your digestion system and appetite you will develop for the word of God. On a contrary, the less you eat, the less appetite you have for His Word. This is dangerous if it is physical eating disorder – you will die of mal-nutrition like anorexia. But many Christian is suffering in spiritual anorexia without being aware of it at all. Have mercy on us O Lord! Deliver many brothers and sisters from this spiritual problem, which will affect their whole being as a whole. Open their eyes to see their “poor shape” and give them inner strength to fix it.
Love you in Christ,

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