Derek continues this study today by looking at the importance of meditating on God’s Word. As you meditate on it day and night, doing all that is written in it, your way will be made prosperous and you will have good success. Derek puts it this way: Think God’s Word, speak God’s Word, and act God’s Word. A very important lesson!
It’s good to be with you again, as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme this week has been “If You Want God’s Best...”
In my previous talks this week, I’ve been supplying various appropriate ways to complete that sentence; that is, various things you need to do to find God’s best for your life.
In my last two talks, I suggested the following two ways to complete the sentence. The first was: ...want God’s best. I hope I can communicate that to you. If you want God’s best, want God’s best. That’s the starting point, settle for nothing less. Make that your primary decision, you’re going to settle for nothing less than God’s best throughout your life. Then the second way I suggested to complete the sentence was: ...focus on Jesus. If you want God’s best, then focus on Jesus. Keep your eyes continually on the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember He’s the beginner and the completer of our faith. The whole gospel centers in Him; His death, His burial, His resurrection. Those are the facts of first importance; everything else is secondary.
Today I’m going to share with you a third thing that it is most important for you to do if you want God’s best and this is: ...meditate in God’s Word. So let me complete the sentence: If you want God’s best, then meditate in God’s Word, fill your mind with the Word of God. And I want to begin by looking at the example of Joshua and the instructions the Lord gave to Joshua as he was about to lead Israel into their inheritance, found in Joshua, chapter 1, verse 8. The Lord says this to Joshua:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
That last phrase, “...you will make your way prosperous, and... you will have good success,” is equivalent, I believe, to saying, “...you will find God’s best.” What are the conditions? They are threefold and they all relate to God’s Word: first, it is not to “depart from your mouth”; second, you are to “meditate in it day and night”, that’s continually; and third, you are to “observe to do according to all that is written in it.” I’ve sometimes summed it up in three simple phrases. If you want God’s best, if you want to make your way prosperous and have good success, these are the three things you must do: think God’s Word, speak God’s Word, and act God’s Word. Let me say that once more: think God’s Word, speak God’s Word, and act God’s Word. And I put thinking first because if you don’t think, you’ll never fully speak. If you don’t think and speak, you’ll never fully act. The result totals success, God’s best.
Now, you might say, “Well, that was only Joshua. How do I know that will work for me?” Well, I’d like to turn to the first psalm and I’d like to give you a similar promise with a similar instruction which is for anybody who meets the conditions. It’s totally all-inclusive. It doesn’t matter who the person is, all that matters is that the person meets the conditions. This is what David says in Psalm 1, verses 1-3:
“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. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Notice the closing sentence: “Whatever he does prospers.” That is, finding God’s best. That is true success. And this is true of any man who meets the conditions. The conditions are fivefold. The first three are negative, three things you must not do.
1. You must not walk in the counsel of the wicked
2. You must not stand in the way of sinners
3. You must not sit in the seat of mockers
And I think the key issue there is where do you get your counsel from? If you get your counsel from the wrong source then your whole life will go wrong. And then it’s followed by the two positive conditions.
4. His delight is in the law of the Lord, and,
5. On his law he meditates day and night.
Notice that both the positive conditions center around the law of the Lord or the Word of God. The first is: you have to delight yourself in His law; second, you have to meditate on it day and night. Notice again, that right meditation is the key to success. Meditating in God’s Word day and night.
That’s not just spending ten minutes a day reading your Bible, but that is so filling your mind with the Bible that it occupies your thoughts all the day long. You’re always feeding on that which is positive, faith-inspiring and upbuilding. You see, what you think really is going to be decisive in how you live. I’ve sometimes said that human personality is like an iceberg and I always forget the proportions, I forget whether it’s seven-eighths of an iceberg or eight-ninths but one or the other is below the surface. Very little of the iceberg actually shows above the surface in comparison with what’s below the surface. And it’s true with human personality. It’s like an iceberg, most of it’s below the surface. It centers in what the person is thinking about, that’s going to determine the course of his life. And, if you meditate on the right thing, you live the right kind of life, and you get the results that God has promised, success and prosperity, God’s best.
Now I want to look at a passage from the prophet Isaiah which brings out the same principle that the way we think is decisive to our experience. This passage is in Isaiah 55, verses 8-13. God is speaking and He says:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ declares the Lord. [Notice God begins with thoughts and He says by nature our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.] ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. [How then can we begin to think God’s thoughts? God gives the answer and it’s in the words that follow.] As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.’”
Well, you notice God’s ways and God’s thoughts are on the heavenly plane; our ways and our thoughts are on the earthly plane, they’re far below God’s. How can we ever then enter into God’s ways and thoughts? The answer is: God’s word brings His ways and His thoughts down from heaven into our lives and into our hearts and that produces the results that we need. And so, God goes on to say in Isaiah 55:11, concerning His word:
“It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.”
That’s the result of God’s Word coming down from heaven, entering our hearts, occupying our minds and replacing our ways and our thoughts with God’s ways and God’s thoughts. So you see the key is God’s Word brings His ways and thoughts down to our hearts and lives and as our minds are filled with the Word of God, we begin to think the thoughts of God. Our whole thought-life is completely changed. And the results are stated there in beautiful language: peace, you shall go out with peace; joy, you will go out with joy; praise, even the things of nature will praise, the trees of the field will clap their hands; and then fruitfulness, in place of the thornbush and the brier, the myrtle and the pine will grow. Good trees in place of bad trees. And that’s what happens in our lives when God’s Word comes in and we receive it and begin to meditate on it. Our own ways and our own thoughts are like the thorns and the briers, they’re unproductive, they’re unhelpful. But when they’re replaced by God’s Word, then instead of the thorn and the brier we bring forth the pine and the myrtle.
So, I want to suggest to you, in closing, how you should view this. You should view the substitution of God’s ways and God’s thoughts for your own ways and own thoughts as being the key to success. And you should cultivate the practice of meditating in God’s Word day and night. And when I say meditating in God’s Word, let me suggest, in closing, this way of looking at it: Meditating in God’s Word is learning to think God’s thoughts after Him through His Word received into our hearts and minds.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll continue with this theme, “If You Want God’s Best...” I’ll be sharing five more things that it is most important for you to do if you want God’s best.
My special offer this week is my book, Appointment in Jerusalem. It’s the true story of a woman who met the conditions and found God’s best. That woman happens to have been my first wife, Lydia. Her story will not only thrill you and inspire you, it will also show you how you, too, can find God’s best. Also my complete series of talks this week on “If You Want God’s Best..., Part 1” is available in a single, carefully-edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.