Dear Esther :: January 4, 2016

Dear Esther,

I enjoy reading your great column and your detailed biblical responses and so does my wife. I am generally a happy person, and committed to the Lord and my family. My wife and I have been married for 18 years and we have two boys (12 and 14). I wonder if you can suggest how I can be even more joyfully committed to the Lord.

We go to a good church but sometimes I find myself drifting away from God, spending time with my unsaved buddies and not quite being where I need to be as the leader of my family. My wife is a great person and I want to do better for her and our kids. I am also confused about what it means to meditate.

Thank you for any suggestions and insights you might have.

Kevin

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Dear Kevin,

I am very happy to hear that you are interested in strengthening your faith and leading your family in a more consistent focused way. You have the right attitude and surely God will bless you for your desire to better serve Him and your loved ones.

Here is my first suggestion. We’ll take it straight from Scripture, from Psalm 1:

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

The word “blessed” could be translated “happy” or “joyful.” The way to be happy and joyful is plainly seen in Psalm 1. The psalmist makes it clear that we can have an abundant, joyful Christian life by doing three things:

1. “Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [ungodly].” That is, we should not take the advice (counsel) of the humanistic society of the day; people who do not consider the true God of the Bible in every aspect of their lives.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You arejust a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead,you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

James is saying that the blessed (happy) person will steer clear of the human behavior, the trendy philosophy of today—which says, “Do your own thing” or “If it feels good, do it.” Instead we should heed the Lord’s guidance in all we do, according to His perfect will. To able to discern His guidance we must be in tune with Him through a regular prayer life and the comprehension of His written Word by carefully studying the Bible with the leading of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

2. The psalmist says, the blessed (happy) man does not “stand in the way of sinners.” This means we live a disciplined life. We realize that there are two ways, which we can choose to live: The fleshly worldly way or the spiritual way. A joyful person seeks to live on the spiritual level.

“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).

Happy, joyful Christians who do not “stand in the way of sinners” realize that though we are children of God, we are still in the flesh and that Satan tries to excite that flesh in many different ways but they do not habitually give into the fleshly desires. The apostle Paul said:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

In the next three verses Paul shows that there is a much higher level – the happy, joyful level which the Christian should seek to live, as you are seeking, Kevin:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).

Paul’s disciplined living is seen in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

3. The child of God will never “sit in the seat of scoffers.” The scoffer is the one who casts doubt and mocks the truthfulness of God’s Word. The scoffer or scorner is one who makes a myth out of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. He or she laughs at the idea that the universe and mankind are direct creations of God.

Scoffers cannot accept God’s miracles of the Bible. So, the person who lives the happy joyful Christian life will be one who readily accepts and believes the entire Bible as the revealed Word of God, and has no trouble whatsoever accepting it as the true and accurate Word of God.

As we study Psalm 1, the psalmist goes on to show that it is not enough not to do certain things, but there must be some positive things that are brought into our lives by focusing on the Word of God continuously:

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

What David emphasizes in Psalm 1 is so clearly expressed in Romans 12 where God, first of all, tells us to offer our bodies:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The Lord wants us to give Him our everything—our minds, emotions, ambitions, all of what and who we are. We can do this by regenerating and renewing our minds though meditating on God’s Word:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The psalmist says:

“Happy is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night.”

And Paul says:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The way to renew our minds is through purposeful prayer, by reading and studying (mediating) on God’s Word. I am not talking about the passive, emptying of the mind or repetitive mantra types of meditation used by various cults, religions and philosophies.

These types of meditation are not of God but are accepted and hyped by much of the world today. Emptying the mind of everything is a dangerous process. Jesus Himself described the danger in doing that in Matthew 12:43-46:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.

Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

The words spoken by Jesus describe what can happen to a person who empties their mind and creates an opening for demonic spirits to enter, using the repetitive types of “meditation” by uttering a name (mantra) or specific words. This is nothing less than a form of mind-control (brainwashing), mind-numbing techniques that can open up a gateway for demonic activity.

Meditation in the Bible is exactly the opposite. It is setting one’s mind on the truth of the Word of God, a conscious and deliberate action focusing on God’s Holy Scriptures with a heart of devotion and purpose. The wordmeditation can be confusing because of the way the New Age cults and other non-Christian groups use it. But mediating the biblical way is a must in order to grow as a believer.

When you do this, Kevin, you will find your leadership qualities at home sharpening and you will find your unsaved “buddies” less and less interesting. Instead of doing whatever they are doing with them, you will find yourself talking to them about the risen Savior and one of two things will happen:

They will listen and come to faith in Christ at some point or they will stop including you in their lives. If they begin to cool off the friendship because of your faith—you are better off without them.

As believers we are not to make the unsaved our close friends. Our role is to witness to them and love them but not partake in their inner circles (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:13).

“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:15-17).

The best antidote to worldliness and our quest to grow closer to God—is to give our all to Him by meditating on and memorizing His Word, and praying with a heart of worship and gratitude. Stay close to Jesus and He will stay close to you. I also suggest that you and your wife together get involved in some sort of ministry at your church (since you mentioned that you go to a good church). You can be a blessing to many by giving of yourselves to others.

The more we share God’s love by giving of ourselves; the more joyous and fulfilled our own lives will become. Many good pastors have an overload of work and responsibilities but not enough people to pitch in and help. Perhaps you should ask your pastor what you and your wife can do that would benefit your church the most.

And be sure you are part of the men’s group at your church fellowshipping with other men who love the Lord. The fact that you are reaching out and want to grow more in the Lord is a wonderful testimony showing your love for the Him and your family.

Spend some time together regularly with your family at least two or three times each week, reading and studying the Bible together as a family. Make it a fun time by sharing God’s Word together.

Include creative ways to share some good DVDs on Bible prophecy relating to today’s news. Lead your family in a way where they can see how that biblical prophecies are being fulfilled right before of our eyes. Search the Scriptures together.

Encourage your family by reminding them that this world is but a vapor, and the world to come when Jesus rules and reigns during the 1000-year millennium will be so spectacular that it cannot even be explained or understood by our limited human minds.

All the troubles and concerns that we have now here on this earth will be totally gone, forever. Encourage your boys to pray together, and spend time with your wife praying with her. You could also start a small youth ministry in your home, which would be great for your boys.

I think far too many people think of spending time with the Lord as dessert; maybe going to church once a week, reading the Bible here and there when it is convenient. We need to think of doing the Lord’s work and growing in His Word as the main course, every day of our lives. We should hunger to learn more about Him and enthusiastically share His Word with the unsaved world in these last days.

I encourage you to carefully and thoughtfully “meditate” on the following Scriptures to strengthen and guide you as you delve deeper into your commitment with Christ:

“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.

I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:97-104).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:148).

“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Psalm 119:16).

God bless you, Kevin, and let me know how you are doing as you move ahead taking new steps to invigorate your relationship with Christ, and as you lead your family forward in family devotions—giving glory to our faithful and awesome Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

In God’s love,

Esther

“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).