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The Discipline of Receiving Revelation: Step 2 – Assimilation
But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. [Psa.1:2,3 – Amplified Bible]
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines ‘discipline’ as: “… to prepare, by instructing in correct principles and habits;” We will be discussing the discipline of ‘assimilation’, in preparation and positioning yourselves, mentally and spiritually, to receive revelation from the Holy Spirit. Our ultimate goal is the ability to, daily, ‘walk-out’ God’s will for our lives. The capacity to apprehend revelatory insight explains, to a large degree, why Jesus’ life was so dynamic and successful – “So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn].” [Jn.5:19 – Amplified Bible] It is Biblically incorrect to make the assumption that Jesus’ life, during His first advent, was lived in the power of His deity as God’s Son. Philippians 2:5-7 unequivocally affirms that Jesus ‘stripped Himself, of that prerogative and rightful dignity, in order to assume the likeness of a servant’. Or, stated another way, every born-again believer has the possibility of living a life on the same spiritual plane as Jesus lived during His earthly ministry! The secret to a lifestyle such as His, is the practice of those disciplines He would have been taught from His youth.
Our quest, then, is one of discovering these same disciplines for our own personal lives as members of His body. The first step, or discipline, is to ‘acquire’ a mental understanding of Biblical truth. This is tantamount to grocery shopping, to acquire those food products we intend to consume for our physiological needs. Comparing this analogy to the average Western Christian, he/she ‘acquires’ spiritual food week after week, month after month, and year after year, with very little, if any, intention of ‘consuming’ it. Let me explain. To acquire physical food products, for the sole purpose of acquisition, is absurd. We buy food to consume it, for the most part. On the other hand, Christians acquire Biblical truth, in the belief that, in so doing, they are being nourished by it. When you look at it from this point of view, it should appear as ludicrous as gathering groceries with a preconditioned mindset that this will, in and of itself, supply our bodily needs. In the introductory Scripture above, ‘delighting in the Law of the Lord’ is immediately followed by ‘meditating’ upon it, which is how Biblical truth is ‘assimilated’. To assimilate something means, “to take in and make part of oneself; absorb; digest”.
Biblical meditation has, practically, become a lost discipline within Christendom. One reason for this is a reaction to its misuse by certain religions. In effect, the Church has ‘thrown out the proverbial baby with the water’. Even so, one must keep in mind that meditation is, and has always been, God’s plan for assimilating His Word. So, what does it mean to meditate, in a Biblical sense. One of the Hebrew words for meditate is ‘haw-gaw’, which carries the idea of “to muse over; to devise; to mutter to one’s self; to imagine; to roll over and over within the mind”. In our culture, becoming ‘lost in thought’ could be a close equivalent. Putting this into practice, you might consider a particular Scripture verse, or even an attribute of Christ’s nature to ponder on, over and over within your mind. In Hebrew thought, meditation is similar to a cow chewing its cud. It chews, and chews, then swallows the cud only to regurgitate it to chew on it some more. By so doing, it maximizes the extraction of nutrients contained within the cud.
As simple as it may sound, disciplining the mind, for the purpose of meditation, is not easy! Focusing on one exclusive thought,for any protracted length of time,will prove formidable for the mind that has not been ‘disciplined’ to do so. Holding one’s complete mental attention on a single thought is foreign to the experience of the average Westerner. Our mind tends to jump from thought to thought, throughout the day, without even being noticed. This is evidence of a mind that has not been made to obey its possessor! The foregoing is not meant to discourage the reader, but simply a warning for what faces the one who makes the decision to pursue such a discipline.
The disciple that perceives the need to move beyond his/her present spiritual plane, and endeavors to begin ‘assimilating’ what has been ‘acquired’, is encouraged to: (1) Choose a time of day that is the least demanding of his/her attention; reduce as many distractions as you can to facilitate a physical environment that lends itself to contemplation. (2) Select a room in your home that becomes the place where you will rendezvous with your Creator. (3) It will prove helpful to not enter this time mentally ‘keyed-up’; try to unwind prior to entering into any meditative activity. (4) Have a Scripture verse, or a character attribute of Christ already chosen that will be the focus of your sole attention. (5) Choose a comfortable posture that can be maintained for a protracted period of time; you don’t want the body vying for your attention. (6) With the above in place, focus all of your attention on Him; simply ‘behold’ Him; now, ask Him to bring understanding to your heart concerning that particular verse or attribute you previously determined to mediate on.
If you are like most us, your mind will not be cooperative in this exercise – it will want to wander off to work on an issue, only to go somewhere else to deal with something else. If, and when this happens, gently bring it back to the exercise. Do this as often as is necessary. In the beginning, your meditation time will be limited to just making the mind obey you. But those students who refuse to give up and quit, out of utter frustration, will eventually win the battle over the undisciplined mind to enter into a meditative state where the activity of their spirit becomes discernible. This is important, since it is here that Christ dwells by His Spirit. In 1Kings 19, Elijah learned that God speaks in a ‘soft, gentle voice’. This is because the voice of our own mind is usually so loud that only when quieted will we be able to hear His voice from within our spirit man. David, in Psalms 131, verse 2, succinctly describes the dynamic we are endeavoring to achieve through mediation: “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].” [Amplified Bible]
The third step, in the discipline of receiving revelation, is ‘appropriation’.
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