An Unexpected Source of Success
Living God's Word
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
Once I had the opportunity to lead the music for revival services at the church my cousin pastored in Pearland, Texas.
Something happened that week that changed my life!
For our first visit during the revival, we went to pray with the Johnsons. A
few months earlier the Johnsons' daughter had died in childbirth, leaving a
healthy new baby, a toddler, a devastated husband, and her parents. Mr. Johnson
was the deacon chairman at the church my cousin pastored. Mrs. Johnson was very
ill, out of touch with reality.
As we drove, my cousin told me that the Johnsons were on edge, waiting for a
bed in a mental hospital for Mrs. Johnson. He warned me, Just act natural
no matter what Mrs. Johnson does.
I got scared.
When we were inside the house, Mrs. Johnson walked into the room toward me.
Dressed in a housecoat, she looked dazed and heavily medicated. She grabbed me
by the shoulder. Her voice was monotone and pathetic.
Isn'tshebeautiful? She showed me a photo of her daughter's
body in a casket. A picture of a casket? I tried to pull away.
Lookatmydaughter. She stared me in the eyes until
I felt forced to take the photo.
Uh, that's a nice colored photo, I stumbled to find words. Mrs.
Johnson kept holding on to me as my cousin began to pray for her. Afterward,
Mr. Johnson lovingly held her, and we quietly excused ourselves and left.
To get the impact of what happened next, you need to know where I was in my
journey with God at that point in my life. I had been concentrating on making
my time with God more practical. I had asked ministers what it means to
meditate on Scripture, and I had read biographies of men of God who did this.
Through study I began to formulate steps to meditate on Scripture.
Followers of Eastern religions and New Age cults practice a mindless form of
meditation in an effort to discover what they believe to be a divinity that
lies hidden within themselves. Christian meditation, however, is neither
mindless nor self-centered. Meditation is reflective thinking with a view to
application. You think about God's ways and align your heart with His will and
The Greek word for
The Greek requires reading with attention to what the Scripture really says.
Meditation opens Scripture the way a knife splits a watermelon.
I have learned that meditation can be done in five steps, each including a word
that begins with the letter
of the verse.
the verse into your life.
Step 1: Understand the
of the Verse
Look at the perimeter of the verse as you meditate. The meaning of a verse is
colored and revealed by the verses that surround it. We can compare this step
to a hamburger. The meat is the verse you choose for meditation.
Surrounding the meat patty is the context sauce, lettuce, cheese,
pickles, and onions on a bun!
You can eat a burger without the fixings, but who wants to? In the same way,
you can study a verse without taking into account its context. But if you
miss the meaning of the perimeter, you will lose the verse's flavor and
That night in Pearland I was meditating using the five steps of
meditation on 1 Peter 5:7, which I had memorized.
I was examining it in light of its context or understanding the perimeter.
When I read 1 Peter 5:7 for the first time within its perimeter
I was astonished by the link between verses 7 and 8:
Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of
sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Why were these two verses placed together? God showed me a cause-effect
relationship between casting burdens on the Lord and escaping the lion,
Satan. Here's what God's Holy Spirit showed me:
cast all your anxiety or get eaten alive!
Just then my thoughts turned to Mrs. Johnson. The weight of losing her
daughter had overwhelmed her. That photo symbolized a burden she couldn't
or wouldn't cast away. What would happen if she, by faith, gave her
daughter to God, surrendering the right to have her on earth?
I'd never dealt with a situation like this before but was captivated by this
Scripture. I had to call my cousin. He arranged for an appointment with the
Johnson family the next morning. We arrived at the house, a sleepy music
director and a pastor. I'd stayed up half the night praying.
As we came into the room, Mrs. Johnson again showed me the photo and grabbed
my arm. Let's sit down, Mrs. Johnson, I suggested. I
communicated my sympathy. Then I acted on what I'd learned from meditating:
Mrs. Johnson, your daughter trusted in Christ. She was never in that
casket. The Bible says,
To be absent from the body . . .
to be at home with the Lord
in 2 Corinthians 5:8. She's with Jesus, but you're trying to keep her here.
Let's pray, and you give your precious girl to the Lord.
Mrs. Johnson moaned and began to cry. I led her in a prayer thanking the Lord
that her daughter was with Him in heaven and releasing her to His care. Mr.
Johnson prayed, too, and then the pastor.
Then Mrs. Johnson stood up and looked around. She spoke with more focus as
she declared, I feel different. Her eyes seemed clear. The pastor
said, I believe that God has brought health to our sister.
I was dazed. Had God healed this woman? I regularly checked on Mrs. Johnson
over the next year. She recovered and was caring for her grandchildren. She
had fully cast her care on the Lord!
If you understand the perimeter as you meditate on Scripture, verses will
jump off the pages of your Bible into the clay of your life.
Beyond Bible Reading
Meditation is reflective thinking with a view to living God's will as
revealed in Scripture. God Himself invented the discipline of meditation.
Unfortunately, Eastern religions have cleverly exported their brand of it,
so that many Christians shy away from meditating on the Word. Biblical
meditation is not clearing the mind of thought, as some religions teach.
Our Teacher is the Holy Spirit. In meditation God's Spirit leads us to
focus our minds on the living Lord revealed in the Word.
Meditation is as different from Bible reading as a one-way side street is
from an eight-lane freeway. Reading is a one-way street, whereas
meditation involves two-way traffic.
You encounter the living God, hearing His voice and learning from Him. At
the same time, you respond to Him in prayer. Meditation's goal is a oneness
with the living Lord.
God considers meditation so important that He commands us to do it.
In the original Hebrew, one word for
in Scripture is
The word is first found in Joshua 1:8. Read it
The word means
to murmur (in pleasure or anger), to ponder, or to imagine.
Moses, Joshua's predecessor, was leaving. He would not be on earth much
longer to coach Joshua in his new and overwhelming position. After 40
years Moses knew the job well so well, in fact, that he understood
the spiritual stamina needed to be a successful leader. Moses was saying:
Joshua, day and night you must read, ponder, and apply God's Word.
You must get continual guidance from your Boss, the God of the
Another classic passage using
is Psalm 1:2, 3. Read the Perimeter (context) of these verses in
A second Hebrew word translated
to ponder, to converse with oneself, to muse, or to pray.
The word is first used in Psalm 119:15. Read that verse
Other synonyms for
think, commune, consider,
Mary, Jesus' mother, is particularly noted in Scripture for her thoughtful
meditation on God's Word and ways: Mary treasured up all these things,
pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19).
Andrew Murray, a missionary-pastor and the writer of more than 20 devotional
books, says that a primary goal of meditation is nourishing the heart:
It is in meditation that the heart holds and appropriates the Word. . .
. The intellect gathers and prepares the food upon which we are to feed. In
meditation the heart takes it in and feeds on it.
Let's learn and practice the next meditation step. After understanding the
verse's context, the perimeter, we need to paraphrase it. In this step God
plugs His Word into the socket of your life.
to put in your own words.
Say it; then write it down. Try to keep the paraphrase about the same number
of lines as the version in your Bible.
I wrote 1 Peter 5:7 in my heart-language: Give every problem to God. He
loves you and will carry every load. Each person's paraphrase will be
different. You can receive great insights as you and your friends or group
members share your paraphrases. Try it with other verses.
The Process of Pulverizing
Multiple blessings are gained from Scripture meditation. Let's look at three
Feeding the Soul
One of God's unusual men of faith was George Müller, who lived in
England during the 1800s. Müller believed that God would lead
hundreds of lost souls to Christ. Furthermore, without publicizing his
needs, Müller prayed for money to feed over three thousand orphans in
homes operated by his ministry. Over a period of 40 years and without a
public request for help, God led people to send millions of dollars in
response to Müller's believing prayer.
Entries in George Müller's diary, dated May 9, 1841, emphasize a
breakthrough he experienced through Scripture meditation:
It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have
not lost for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more
clearly than ever that the first great primary business to which I ought
to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord . . . not how
much I might serve the Lord, . . . but how I might get my soul into a
happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to
set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers .
. . and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and
strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended
to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been . . . to give
myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw
that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the
reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart
might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that
thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart
might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
Müller meditated in order to have a happy, well-fed soul.
Comforting the Soul
David, the shepherd-king, punctuated his songs with insights about
meditation's power over pain, crisis, and insecurity. Meditate on God's
Providing Spiritual Success
A further great value is found in the discipline of meditation. Prosperity
and success are God's promised rewards (see
Psalm 1:2, 3;
1 Timothy 4:15
Notice this promise spelled out in Joshua 1:8: Meditate on it
day and night, . . . for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you
will have success. Successful people are those who learn to apply
God's wondrous wisdom.
We've gone from understanding the perimeter (the larger context) of the verse
to paraphrasing the verse. The next step is to pulverize the verse, looking
at its individual words. Pulverizing involves a threefold process:
Meditation takes what may look like a simple picnic lunch and reveals the
multiple courses of an extravagant banquet. Appetizers, soups, salads,
breads, vegetables, steak, poultry, fish, and desserts appear from the
picnic basket of a single verse.
Say the verse aloud.
First say the entire verse aloud to yourself. Emphasize a different word
each time you slowly quote it.
· Notice the relationship of each word to the other words and to the
verse's entirety. Each word has the value of a pearl in an expensive
necklace. You're looking at a string of pearls, one precious pearl at a
time. See how each pearl (word) adds beauty and symmetry to the whole
· Listen to God's Word as you read or quote it. When God speaks and
we listen, He has our hearts. Action follows as we do His will and tell
others about our experiences with Him.
Choose one or two key words.
Three or four words may be significant in the verse, but choose the
one or two that seem most important to you.
· Your goal is to discover God's will for you about the truth of the
· Like a medical doctor who doesn't give everyone in the waiting room
the same pill, the Holy Spirit leads different people to choose from a
number of key words in each verse.
Ask questions about one of the key words.
Think of the way a cow chews its cud. Up from its first stomach comes the
partly digested food to be chewed again. Meditating on Scripture allows
you to chew the meat and bread of the Word, digesting it into spiritual
muscle and power. The Word becomes flesh! (see
) By asking questions, you chew an idea over and over to get maximal
benefit from it.
· In this final step you bombard the key word or words with questions
that cry out for answers. Make these six penetrating words your friends
for all methods of Bible study:
who, what, when, where, why,
Sometimes the answer to your posed question is not in the verse or even
in the chapter. That's no problem. Search other Scriptures for answers.
· A Chinese proverb says, When the pupil is ready, the teacher
will come. Asking questions gets you ready to want an answer. The
process of questioning generates a seeking heart. The right questions can
penetrate your foggy familiarity with certain passages and stories from
the Bible. Realizing how little you know is humbling, and asking questions
reveals the depth of your emptiness. The Holy Spirit will implant new
insights and joyous opportunities to make the verse live in you!
· Furthermore, asking questions is an indispensable key to learning.
With men I mentor, I sometimes suggest that they write 25 questions about
a verse before our next time together. Then we discuss the verse in light
of their questions. Illumination begins.
What a feast!
The fourth meditation step is to personalize the verse. Pray for wisdom to
make it flesh and blood. The goal of all study is application. Don't stop
with a nice idea or an interesting concept. Activate the idea!
Have you ever tried to give a problem to God, but it came back like a
boomerang or a yo-yo? In prayer I've thrown my burden onto the Lord, and
it returned in 15 minutes! How is it possible to break the cycle of worry?
Let me tell you what I've discovered:
Ask God to show you a promise from Scripture about that burden.
God will relate a specific promise from His Word to the anxiety you're
facing. It may take time, but God will show you. After He shows you His
Word, link your burden to the Father's love and faithfulness. Claim the
verse by faith. Every time the anxiety comes, reaffirm His promise by
praying the verse. Think of this process as carpenter's glue. Glue the
promise to the problem! Say it aloud: glue the promise to the problem.
Believing the verse the Lord gives you will literally overwhelm the problem
with that promise.
I remember when I felt overwhelmed with a problem, not a promise!
Getting off the plane after burying my mother, I was told that my wife's
surgery for a benign tumor was more complicated than expected: cancer! A
flood of fearful thoughts rushed in. I had just lost my precious mom. Now
would I lose the dearest person on earth to me?
In Clemmie's hospital room the Lord whispered: I love and care for
Clemmie. Give her to Me. Through my tears I fought to place her in
God's loving hands. God met us powerfully in the weeks of pain and healing
that followed. Within a 20-year span Clemmie had two more cancer surgeries.
We've claimed the Word, and by faith we've grasped God's strong hands as He
has affirmed, I have loved you with an everlasting love
in Jerimiah 31:3. We've cast ourselves on Him.
The promise in 1 Peter 5:7 is
He cares for you.
What need in your life is God speaking to? Make a plan to live this
Scripture in a specific way as you glue this verse to one anxiety (person,
problem, or pressure).
the Verse into Your Life by Putting Yourself in the Verse
The fifth step is to pray the verse back to God, putting your name and
circumstance in the verse. For example, when Clemmie was diagnosed with
cancer, I prayed: Father, thank You for wanting to carry my load. By
faith, not feeling, I now give Clemmie and her cancer to You. Please carry
her as You promised. I know that You care for her and for me as my heart is
breaking. Thank You for holding Clemmie in Your strong hands. Satan is
the great discourager. The Holy Spirit is the great encourager, His burden
Meditation, then, is reflective thinking on God's Word and ways, with a view
to application. Through this discipline you align your life with God's will
and purpose as you seek to become a mature follower of Jesus Christ.
The meditation worksheet,
directs you through the process of meditation you have learned. Make copies of
the worksheet to use in future times of meditation. Practice now by choosing
one or more of the following passages and completing the worksheet.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
1 W.H. Griffith Thomas, as quoted by Wilbur M. Smith,
Profitable Bible Study,
2nd rev. ed. (Natick, Mass.: W.A. Wilde Co., 1963), 62.
2 John Hunter,
Knowing God's Secrets
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965), 107.
3 James Strong,
The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(Hendersonville, Tenn.: Mendenhall Sales, n.d.), 82.
4 Ibid., 115.
5 Andrew Murray, as quoted by Wilbur M. Smith,
Profitable Bible Study,
2nd rev. ed. (Natick, Mass.: W.A. Wilde Co., 1963), 63.
6 George Müller, as quoted by Wilbur M. Smith,
Profitable Bible Study,
2nd rev. ed. (Natick, Mass.: W.A. Wilde Co., 1963), 64.
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