Intentionally giving time and space to appreciate God's creation allows a deeper connection and wholeness with Him.
Alright. What a blessing to be able to share this time together. You know, if you’re joining us for the first time I’m Pastor Terry and the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. And I know that so many of us are in different places. Some of you are near, some of you are very far away, even in other parts of the world.
I’m just so grateful. We’re able to have this time together and to be connected. And I know it’s not an easy time. It’s actually a little bit challenging to stay optimistic, but you know what, that’s what God is inviting us into, not to deny reality, not to deny them when things aren’t going great, but to retain a hope in Him and, uh, you know, part of what I get to do as I share this word with you, I hope, is strengthen and encourage you to follow Jesus better.
And, uh, even now let me just pray. I just, I just ask Lord that You would be with us in this time. And there will come a flow of life into the place where we need it most You know that. You know, where we need it most. Could be in our mind, could be in our body, could be in some critical relationships that we have.
I just welcome Your grace and Your wisdom and the joy of the Lord into this time. And that’s my prayer in Jesus’ name. You know, I want to start, uh, by picking up where we left off. When we, you know, last week we introduced our new series, The Way of Blessing, I talked about how this is the way of blessing. And it’s Psalm 1, which is where, we’re what we’re using as a launching pad.
I just want to read it through, uh, one more time and, and just sit with it. But it begins like this. Bless it is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of the sinner nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in that law, he meditates day and night.
You shall be like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither. And whatever he does, it will prosper. The ungodly are not so, they’re like the chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the, in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the
ungodly it, it will perish. You know, last week we talked about how one of the keys for blessing was what was mentioned in that second verse. The idea of delighting ourselves in, uh, His words, you know, taking joy in His word. And meditating on them day and night. What does that even mean? You know what I mean?
You know, what does that mean? Basically, it’s saying that in and out of our day, God’s words are near to us. They’re never far. We’ve studied them. We’ve thought about them. We’re reading them. We, we have them near. And so they’re always connected to our life. And in our waking hours. And then sometimes even when we’re asleep, you know, God’s word is churning inside of our hearts and meditating on them is a gift that God invites us into.
And remember, there is a, a critical distinctive to Christian meditation that sets it apart from, uh, other kinds of meditation, maybe Eastern meditation. Uh, because in other cases, uh, especially like Eastern meditation, that the, I guess the purpose would be described as detachment, but the Christian concept of meditation, the Christian concept that is rooted in the Bible has to do not with detachment and losing ourselves and losing our identity, but rather attaching to God.
And finding ourselves in Him that our truest identity gets grounded in the God who loves us and who has revealed Himself to us through His words and in His presence. And so, you know, this is really important. You know, so because when we’re talking about meditation and delighting ourselves in God’s word, we’re talking about a way of drawing closer to Him.
It really is a way of relationship. The way of blessing in this way is a way of relationship. And so our focus is not meditation as a clearing technique. It’s not, uh, for the purpose of, you know, relaxation or stress management. Now it may include all of those things and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to offload stress and relax.
Those are good things, but what we are talking about. When we consider what the scripture is teaching us about meditation from a Christian perspective, it really is a very different thing. Isn’t it? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s more about the idea of, again, deepening our relationship with Him becoming a more whole person in the process.
So the goal of meditating on God’s word is to have a deeper joy filled relationship with our loving Creator and an increased wholeness, which becomes in a way the natural by-product of that quest. In other words, my primary purpose is to draw near to God. And that that’s the invitation that Jesus gives us.
Right? And as we draw near to God through His word, what happens is we find ourselves increasingly well and whole and healed. So that just follows right? As, as, as clearly, as, you know, day follows night when we make the Lord seek first, the kingdom of God and all that is right in His eyes. When we make that a priority, then the other things just naturally flow.
Right? And so, um, some of you may recall that at the opening of the year, and I know not everybody would, would remember this, but, uh, it was, it was in the Breakthrough series. We had this thing called Vision Sunday way back in January on the 24th of this year. And, uh, nobody could have predicted where we would be right now, but it was there that we really pushed into, by faith, a theme.
Remember? Breakthrough. That’s what this wristband says. And we gave one out to everyone, the idea of breakthrough, and we talked about one of the principles was breakthrough as Jesus taught us. And that the scriptures reveal it is always connected to what we think upon. It’s always connected to what we think upon, because what we think upon what occupies the primary space of our mind is what
shapes our heart. And what is in our hearts is ultimately what shows up in our lives is what comes out in our words and deeds, you see how interconnected these things are? That’s why in Proverbs 23:7, we’re told that as a man thinks, so he is. As a woman thinks, so she is. Just as with breakthrough. So much of the blessed way is connected to what dominates our thought life.
It really is. I mean that, and that’s where the principle comes into play. In His law, he meditates day and night, right? I mean, that’s, meditation is something that we do need to be intentional about. Again, it has to do with, this is how I would describe it, times of reflection and long thoughts, so that we’re lingering with our thinking about the things of God.
It involves reflection and long thoughts. It involves introspection as in search my God search my heart. Oh God. Right? Um, it involves prayerful consideration as we prayerfully examine our heart. So I think all of these things, uh, are part of what we’re talking about. Reflection long thoughts, introspection, prayerful consideration, and the reason we do these things, it, and the reason we are invited into this
is because if we come with a listening ear and attentive soul, we will find that that really His words will be near to our mind and on our lips. That they will become to us a kind of north star and a guiding light as the Psalmist declared, “Your words are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105.
And so for that to happen, it means that you and I we’re going to need to create space and slow down. In other words, I don’t, I don’t naturally drop into long thoughts. I don’t naturally, uh, you know, I can’t do reflection on the run. I need to, um, slow down a bit. Right? To have a prayerful consideration and examine my own heart and to introspectively, try to sit with what’s happening inside of me and listen for God’s voice. Those things,
those things are often connected to my willingness, to be able to like calm things down a bit and slow things down. I remember reading recently, something that a Bible teacher and pastor a man by the name of John Henry Jowett wrote concerning the, uh, well, he wrote this about Christian meditation, just listen to this.
This is great. He says, “The word meditation has an antique old world flavor about it as though it belongs to an age when men took slow, measured strides and the wheels of time moved leisurely. How many of us meditate, hold the mind before a subject until it becomes steeped in it, saturated with it through and through, you know, he says we live in an age of mental haste and gallop.”
I love the way that Jowett had described that. Right? Two things that stood out to me there. First was his marvelous description of what meditation looks like. Holding the mind before a subject until it becomes steeped in it, saturated in it through and through. Think about, you want to think about meditation in meditating, on God’s word.
Think about dipping that tea in the water, in the hot water, like saturating that bag and, you know, dunking it in. And that, you know, you get a little bit of a mental image of what it means to saturate ourselves through and through with God’s word. We need to be doing that. We get to do that because it would be so good for us.
And second part, the other thing he described, I thought just connected is, you know, I think he’s, he’s describing our time, really. An age of mental haste and gallop. What a description. I mean, come on, you know this, and I know this everyone’s in a hurry and you know, it got me thinking about technology and, and, um, you know, technology.
you know, just allows for us to do tasks that would have been more laborious and force us to take time. We can do things so quickly. And in some ways it’s a huge advantage. I mean, technology just dominates our mental landscape. I mean, most of us have multiple devices we’re connected all the time or at least it feels that way.
And it’s hard to live without it. It’s hard to live without technology and, and yet it’s an art to live well with it. I think I need to say that again. It’s hard to live without technology, and yet it’s an art to live well with it. So what Jowett had said, you know, when he said we live in an age of mental haste and gallop, I thought, wow.
I mean, this guy is spot on. He just captured it perfectly. What a description of our time. But then, it might be helpful to recognize when he wrote these words. He wrote them at the turn of the century and some of us might be going, whoa, he wrote those words way back in 2020. Wow. You know, before the, the iPhone, nah, he wrote those words way back.
In the early 1900s, that’s the century I’m talking about. What? What?! Yeah. That, yes. And if that was true, if that was a time of, you know, mental haste and gallop. Oh my goodness, you know, uh, Jowett had, who died in, in 1923. If he were living in our time, he would just like be, he would be like, he would be lost in space.
Right? He did for the speed of our world would be unimaginable to him. It would be fantastical, a stunning, shocking. Uh, and certainly as some of us have found it overwhelming in a way. You know, we, you and I are inundated with voices and choices. The world, uh, the world is at our fingertips. Isn’t it? Right?
It’s just right there. Literally. It literally is. I mean, some of us are connecting right now because of the world at our fingertips. I mean, it’s, it’s an amazing time. And, and yet at the same time, we have so many voices coming at us and I don’t know about you, but it just seems to me like everybody’s yelling.
And we have people calling out to us all the time and we have, we’re constantly, um, trying to be taken advantage of and marketed and, and there’s, there’s always fishing expeditions that are going on designed to get our information. We’ve got to constantly be monitoring. Monitoring this and monitoring that.
And, and, and we, we can’t even trust the voices that are coming our way. And it’s just, it’s just a very noisy world. And, and, and I’m not just talking about what we hear, you know, with our ears, but even more, so I’m talking about what we hear between our ears, the mental noise. That, the mental noise that saturates our life, that just is such a part of it.
And I think it explains, hear me out now. I think it explains why so many are self-medicating. I mean, you know, we have a proliferation of medication and though I’m not anti-medication, I am anti-medication abuse. Talking about addictive snares that are everywhere and that. Yeah. You know, we, we can lose ourselves in different forms of medication.
It doesn’t have to just be, um, some type of, uh, a pill. It might be other things that are just as toxic. Some of us might turn to drinking or eating or, um, you know, even pornography. Things that did that medicate in some way. Uh, a feeling of restlessness inside of us or something that just isn’t right. But those things, you know, they, they really, they, they can’t solve the deepest disconnects inside of us.
They really can’t. Hear me. This is what, but this is what I want to say. And I’m, I’m particularly right now talking about legitimate medications, but I do think it’s important to meditate more than we medicate. And I I’m acknowledging there can be unhealthy forms of medication and there can be healthy forms of medication.
But I want us to sit with the wisdom of God and hear this appropriately, that the Lord wants us to meditate more than we medicate. Let that be our goal, let that be our goal. Meditate on His words because they contain in them the. Power, the spiritual atomic power of life is in God’s words, let us saturate our mind and our body with His words, because it is the ultimate medication.
So don’t go off saying, Pastor Terry said, I’m not supposed to take this medication. I didn’t say that. What I said you said was meditate even more than we medicate, you know, Proverbs 4. Verses 18 through 22. The way of the righteous is certainly not the way the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. My child pay attention to what I say, listen carefully to My words, don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart. And here it is, verse 22 for they bring life to those who find them and healing.
Look at this to their whole body. They bring life to those who find them and healing to their whole body. God’s words can not only heal our mind. They can heal our body. And out of that, out of that can come healing at multiple dimensions is what we’re saying. So I do think it’s important for us to be intentional about meditating on His words.
Usually when we drift in unhealthy places and spaces, it’s because we’ve not made meditating upon God’s word, a priority in our lives. There’s a disconnect there usually. Intentionality, you know, and we’re going to need to be intentional about it. Intentionally meditating on His words, but intentionality usually requires, well, it does.
It does. It requires space and pace, uh, quiet and long thoughts. We’re going to need to unplug and listen to the still small voice. And we’re going to also need to exercise is another thing, technological restraint and that, my friends, is not easy to do. I mean, I say that as someone who, one of the first things that I do is I, I check in on Slack and I check my phone in the morning.
You know, it’s like, um, the rhythms of life. I just, I just feel like the Lord wants us to learn how to, how to exercise technological restraints so that we can be healthier people. But, you know, going back to that Jewett quote, Jowett, excuse me, Jowett, quote, uh, he talked about our need to slow down our pace and meditate by steeping ourselves in God’s word.
You know, Jowett, uh, went on to refer to a man and I was cause I was reading on him and he went on to refer to a man named John Ruskin. A man I knew very little about who is actually though, if you read about Ruskin, I’m not suggesting you do, but Ruskin is actually considered the father of modern art criticism.
And Jowett referring to Ruskin. The first modern art critic said, he said, you know, he said, Ruskin taught, taught us that there is nothing which so tends to destroy the accuracy of the artistic eye as a hurried gallop around an art gallery, even though it contains the works of the most eminent masters.
So, what he was saying was Ruskin was, was trying to say that if you go into an art gallery or a museum. You don’t just want to like dash through it. You want to want to create space. I mean, you can do it. He says he probably will get some joy from it, perhaps, but you it’s. It’s meant to be pondered. I mean, it’s meant to be appreciated.
It’s it’s meant to be, it’s meant to go slow and, and to stop and to think about a piece of art and to consider it and to appreciate it. It’s not designed to be done on the fly. That’s the point that Ruskin makes and Jowett was saying, you know, and Jowett said, man, Jowett work pivoting off of Ruskin, talking about how we are to enter into an art gallery.
Jowett went on to say, “May not that be equally true of the gospel gallery.”- I love this – “where the mind of the great Master is exhibited in a hundred different ways…” It’s one of the reasons why I think small groups are beneficial. Having Bible study is beneficial, taking notes. I’m a big believer in it. I like to take notes with the teaching.
I like to go back over things, think about them, ponder them, drill them deeply inside of my heart. Uh, it’s it’s a habit that I’ve gotten into. And, uh, I just like doing that because I think it helps a lot. But you know, you think about what he was getting at. He was talking about how we should treat. The, the scripture’s like an art gallery that’s filled with masterpieces.
Basically what we’re talking to you about is the gospel gallery, right? The gallery of God’s word that is filled with all these wonderful pieces of art. I mean, God is the master artist. I think you know that. If you read the Bible, you’ll see it. It’s, it’s clear. And He, as the master artist, He modeled contemplation.
You go back to the book of Genesis. It says that on the sixth day He took satisfaction in His creative work in art, and He gave us an example. We saw all that He did and that it was good. As Genesis 1:31, “And then He rested on the seventh day.” But I just love, I really, I just found myself drawn to the analogy of the scriptures as a spiritual art gallery filled with masterpieces that invite us into discovery and wonder learning about God, learning about human life, learning about ourselves, learning about, um, the things that unlock, uh, you know, truce in the kingdom.
You know, I mean, Jesus talked about how His kingdom was like, uh, a treasure chest didn’t He? He talked about it. He said it was like a householder in Matthew 13. Uh, He said this in verse 52, He says to them, therefore, every scribe that is, think about this, every scribe, every student of scripture who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who brings out of his treasure,
what is new and what is old. Isn’t that cool? The collector is, but it’s what He’s saying, the collector is familiar with his art. The collector is familiar with his pieces. She knows, what she owns and it displays, and there’s a story behind it. You know, the best art. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, you know, or a classic.
It could be something that has meaning for us and tells a story. It could be a photograph. It could be, um, something written by someone we love or drawn. You know? Sometimes parents and now grandparents post, uh, works of art that barely, I don’t think they qualify except in the eyes of the grandparents or the parent.
Right? That, that that’s look at that beautiful scribble, you know, it’s in color. Right.? Those, I mean, that, that appreciation, but, but the point is, and this is what I was really trying to say is that the collector is familiar with the art. And that art is connected to a story like it’s saying something now, the beauty of it is it can say different things to different people as it’s examined.
And I think that’s perfect. Perfectly true of God’s word as well, because I can look at it and it’ll say this to me. And it doesn’t mean I’m not saying that truth is relative. Don’t hear me to say that what I am saying is that it can apply that truth can apply in different ways to different people, depending on the way in which is being viewed, where I’m at, the position, the flow, you know, the environment, the atmosphere, the light.
You begin to see the analogy and think about what Jesus said, things new and old. Things ancient and true. Things taught and received, things new and present. His words for us, that we share and invite others into. Jesus said this to us. He said, look, search. He said, “Search the scriptures for, they testify of me.” John 5:39.
He’s talking about… you know, when you think about searching. That’s intense, that’s intensity, that’s persistence that’s effort. And, and that involves the joy of discovery. Yeah, ask it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door shall be opened. You know, I was also thinking about something that Charles Spurgeon, the impactful and eloquent 19th century preacher wrote.
And I do like to go back in time. I don’t want to be ever disconnected from history. I think whenever we become disconnected from history, we lose something significant. And it’s not just because we don’t want to repeat the mistakes. It’s because there’s so much wealth connected to it. Jesus said not just things new.
He said things old, a reminder that all generations have something to bring to the table and that history has much to teach us as well. God’s word is embedded in, in history. But Spurgeon wrote this, he said, “Would that our conversation were more heavenly would that we were more taken with the person and the work and the beauty of our incarnate Lord through meditation.
The beauty of the King flashes upon us with resplendence.” Think about that. He’s talking about how it shines brilliantly. When we look at Him closely like the splendor of a field of wildflowers and the colors pop. Right? I love that. Oh, that you and I oh, that we would be each one of us. Um, all of you whom I love and my friends from afar, near and far as I say, oh, that we would be art students of Jesus and take His master’s class.
Right? And remember though, it’s not just His words that reflect His glory. No, no, no. All creation reflects His glory and it’s designed to bring us two things: to Him and pleasure. Healthy pleasure. And you know, the trees clap their hands in praise and the winds speak His name with spring winds, speak His names. The mountain, His name, the mountain mountains, declare His glory and the flowers tell a story of His wondrous love for me and the lilies of the field and the oceans roar reminds us of God’s faithfulness.
Now in a moment, um, we’re going to share a song that speaks to that. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s called “Ocean”. And, uh, but before that a couple of things, one of the, one of them is this on the backside of the song. I actually have three more things. They’re quick. This is going to be really quick.
So like, you know, bullet point, but three more thoughts on why there is value in pondering the scriptures, what it will do for us. And I also want to remind everybody that this is time I get to do it about our time of giving. So many of you who are committed to Jesus and committed to this church community. And if you’re not quite there yet, you know, I don’t, again, I’m not trying to manipulate anyone or make you feel pressured, but I do want to remind our church.
This is the time I get to do it about our tithes, about giving of your tithes and offerings and how you can do that. You know, by sending them in, you can go online and give that way, or you can give through the app, uh, which is like I said, what I do. And, uh, that’s, uh, a blessing that we’ve all been given as well, right?
To be able to be in community together and honor Jesus with our first fruits. And, uh, but right now let’s share this song and I’ll come back around. Here we go.