For this week’s devotions I’m going to focus, again on the Psalms. Earlier this year we looked at 7 different types of Psalms and had an example of each.
This week I want to look at only one Psalm. Each day we will consider a section of the Psalm and I’m going to invite you to use it in your devotional time. Some of you may be familiar with the way I’m going to ask you to read this Psalm, it’s called Lectio Divina. If you’re familiar, great! If not, I’ll give you a brief introduction.
Lectio Divina is a Latin term which simply means “sacred reading” . It’s been around for a long time. It’s simply a way of meditatively and prayerfully reading a short passage of scripture in a way that leads into prayer and time in God’s presence. There are 4 stages to Lectio Divina: Read, Meditate, Pray, Rest in God.
1. Read. Take a short passage of scripture and read through it several times. Read it in a personal way. You’re not reading it to prepare a lesson or a sermon or to share it with someone else. You are reading it to allow God to speak to you through His word.
2. Meditate. As you read, choose a single word or short phrase that really speaks to you and think about it (To meditate is to chew on it with your mind, internalize it, and chew on it some more engaging your whole person, thoughts, feelings etc… think about how a cow ruminates on grass or hay).
3. Pray. After spending time meditating on that word or phrase and really personalizing it, then bring it to God in prayer. Does it lead you to praise God? Does it lead you to thank God? Does it raise questions that you need to bring to God? Does it call forth a sense of guilt for a sin that you need to confess to God? Whatever it brings forth in you, bring that to God in prayer and spend some time talking to God about whatever it is that your reading and meditation has brought to mind.
4. Rest in God. The final stage of lectio divina is to simply bring you into God’s presence. You know how great it is when you are with someone you love and you can just enjoy being present with them… no one’s looking at their phone, no one’s talking or really doing anything other than simply enjoying being in the other’s presence? Do that with God. Just spend some time enjoying God’s presence.
That’s really all there is to it. If you Google Lectio Divina or look it up in books on Christian spirituality you may find other fancy words like: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratorio, Contemplacio etc… They are all just Latin words that mean the same thing: Read, Meditate, Pray, Rest in God.
I hope you’ll try it this week.
I’ve chosen Psalm 37 to look at every day this week. I’ve chosen this Psalm because I’ve been spending a lot of time this year meditating on this one Psalm, especially verse 4.
Today, I want to look at the first 4 verses:
“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
As I read through this there are several things that immediately catch my attention. How often do I fret because of those who are evil? Do I see the junk that people do and find myself stewing over it? How can they do that stuff? What is WRONG with them?
As I dig a little deeper – Am I ever envious of those who do wrong? Do I ever look at the rich, the good looking, the famous, the powerful and see the terrible lifestyle choices they always seem to make, and then get ticked off because they have all the goodies? Do I envy their money or the stuff their money can buy?
How often am I guilty of looking at what other people are doing instead of looking at God and making sure that I’m doing what God has called me to do? I see an invitation to Trust God and do what I know is right and let God worry about the results.
But it’s the last verse that really captures my heart: “Take delight in the Lord.”
What does it mean to delight in something? Three of my grandchildren all turned one this summer. I got to be present at one of their birthday parties, and I saw videos of the other two who live in Minnesota. In each case it was amazing to see them “take delight” in their birthday “smash cakes”. They would dig in, squeeze it, taste it and get really excited. I still remember the looks of delight on their faces.
You might take delight in tasting delicious food, seeing an old friend or family member, your favorite sports team winning the championship, seeing an “A” on your paper, trying on your wedding dress (or seeing your bride walk down the aisle toward you in that dress).
God wants us to delight in Him more than anything else.
Spend some time thinking about what it means to delight in God. When have you delighted in God? What was it like?
Spend some time talking with God about what you’ve been thinking about delighting in Him.
Now, delight in God. Spend some time just enjoying God’s presence.
Pastor Jeff Fletcher