The Discipline of Receiving Revelation: Step 2 – Assimilation
But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and in His law (the precepts, instructions, teachings of God) he habitually meditates (meditates and studies) day and night. And it will be like a well planted tree [and tended] next to streams of water, ready to bear fruit in its time; its leaf will not wither or wither either; And whatever he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. [Psa.1:2,3 – Amplified Bible]
Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 define ‘discipline’ as: “… prepare, instructing in correct principles and habits;” We will be discussing the discipline of ‘assimilation’, in preparation and positioning, mentally and spiritually, to receive revelation from the Holy Spirit. Our ultimate goal is the ability to, on a daily basis, ‘step out’ of God’s will for our lives. The ability to apprehend revealing intuition explains, to a large extent, why Jesus’ life was so dynamic and successful: “Jesus answered them saying: I assure you, very solemnly I tell you that the Son can do nothing by himself.” (by his own will); but he can only do what he sees the Father do, because everything 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 assume that the life of Jesus, during His first coming, was lived in the power of His deity as the Son of God. Philippians 2:5-7 affirms unequivocally that Jesus ‘stripped off that rightful prerogative and dignity, to take the likeness of a servant’. Or, put another way, every born-again believer has the possibility of living a life on the same spiritual plane that Jesus lived during his earthly ministry! The secret of a lifestyle like his is the practice of those disciplines that would have been taught to her from his youth.
Our quest, then, is to discover 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 equivalent to going shopping at the supermarket, to acquire those food products that 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 little or no intention to ‘consume’ it. Let me explain. Purchasing physical food products, for the sole purpose of purchasing them, is absurd. We buy food to consume, for the most part. On the other hand, Christians take in Biblical truth, believing that in doing so they are being fed by it. When you look at it from this point of view, it should seem as ridiculous as making the purchase with the preconditioned mentality that this, in itself, will supply our bodily needs. In the introductory Scripture above, ‘delighting in the Law of the Lord’ is immediately followed by ‘meditating’ on it, which is how Biblical truth is ‘assimilated’. To assimilate something means “to assimilate and become part of oneself; to absorb; to digest”.
Biblical meditation has practically become a lost discipline within Christianity. One of the reasons for this is a reaction to its misuse by certain religions. In effect, the Church has ‘thrown the proverbial baby with the water’. Even so, it must be kept in mind that meditation is and always has been God’s plan to assimilate His Word. So what does it mean to meditate, in a biblical sense? One of the Hebrew words to meditate on is ‘haw-gaw’, which carries the idea of ”ponder, motto, mutter to oneself, imagine, go round and round within the mind.” In our culture, becoming ‘lost in thought’ might be a close equivalent. Putting this into practice, you might consider a particular Bible verse, or even an attribute of the nature of Christ to ponder over and over in your mind. In Hebrew thought, meditation is similar to a cow chewing the cud. He chews and chews, then swallows the cud only to regurgitate it and chew some more. By doing so, it maximizes the extraction of nutrients contained in the food bolus.
As simple as it may seem, disciplining the mind for the purpose of meditation is not easy! Focusing on one thought alone, for an extended period of time, will be formidable to 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 noticing. This is evidence of a mind that has not been made to obey its possessor! The foregoing is not intended to discourage the reader, but merely a warning of what is faced by those who make the decision to follow such a discipline.
The disciple who perceives the need to go beyond his current spiritual plane and strives to begin to ‘assimilate’ what he has ‘acquired’ is encouraged to: (1) Choose a time of day that is the least demanding for he she. her attention; Reduce as many distractions as you can to facilitate a physical environment that is conducive to contemplation. (2) Select a room in his home that will become the place where he will meet with his Creator. (3) It will be helpful not to go into this time mentally ‘excited’; try to relax before entering into any meditative activity. (4) Having a verse of Scripture, or an attribute of the character of Christ already chosen that will be the focus of his exclusive attention. (5) Choose a comfortable posture that can be maintained for a long period of time; you don’t want the body to compete for your attention. (6) With the above in place, focus all your attention on Him; just ‘behold’ it; now, ask him to bring understanding to your heart regarding that particular verse or attribute that you previously determined to meditate on.
If you are like most of us, your mind will not cooperate in this exercise; you’ll want to get distracted to work on a problem, only to go somewhere else to deal with something else. Yes, and when this happens, gently bring him back to the exercise. Do this as many times as necessary. At first, your meditation time will be limited to 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 a meditative state where the activity of their spirit becomes noticeable. This is important, since it is here that Christ dwells by his Spirit. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah learned that God speaks with a ‘soft and gentle voice.’ This is because the voice of our own mind is often so loud that only when it quietens can we hear his voice from within our spirit man. David, in Psalm 131, verse 2, succinctly describes the dynamic we are trying to achieve through mediation: “Surely I have calmed and stilled my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within from my”. [ceased from fretting].” [Amplified Bible]
The third step, in the discipline of receiving revelation, is ‘appropriation’.