"[Meditation] is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communication with God."
- J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1973), pp. 18-19
Leaders, if someone asked you, "How do I know if I am maturing as a follower of Jesus?" what would your response be? How would you evaluate your own maturity in Christ?
After being given salvation in Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5), every Christian begins the process of spiritual growth. The purpose of this growth is to become spiritually mature. According to the apostle Paul, it’s an ongoing process that does not end this side of heaven (Phil. 3:12–14). This process is our growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18) and becoming more like Him each day (2 Cor. 3:18).
Maturity, though, requires us to re-prioritize our desires, no longer seeking to please ourselves but instead pleasing God and learning to obey Him. A process which takes persistence and engagement in those things we know will draw us closer to God. These practices, or disciplines, are gifts of grace and include things such as Bible study, prayer, serving, and meditation. It is important to note that no matter how hard we work at these disciplines none of this growth is possible without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 2 Cor. 1:22). As we learn to walk under the Spirit's control throughout our lives we will see an increase in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). These fruits are the characteristics of Jesus and the essence of what it means to become spiritually mature.
As a group, this week you will have an opportunity to encourage each other to practice the discipline of Christian meditation. Just one of many ways we can fellowship with God and seek to grow in spiritual maturity. Using the exercises given on pages 7 and 8 of the booklet you will, as a group, choose one or more of the exercises to do together. The three listed are;
- Prayer Exercise
- Visualization Exercise
- Scripture Exercise
It is important to note that Christian meditation, as described in the booklet, is deeply rooted in scripture. The 4 key aspects of this discipline are;
- Meditating on God (Ps 63:6).
- Meditating on God’s word (Ps 119:48).
- Meditating on God’s work (Ps 143:5).
- Meditating on God’s promises (Ps 119:148)
Some possible questions for discussion are;
- What might need to change in your life to enable you to practice the discipline of meditation more often?
- In what ways could this spiritual discipline help you to disciple someone outside of your group?
Here is a guideline for your gatherings:
• VISION CAST - Consider sharing with the group how God has been growing you as a leader and why gathering together each week is valuable to you.
• ACTIVITY - This time together should be slow and intentional. Allow for 30-40 minutes of practicing one or more of the exercises together. It may help to briefly address any misconceptions or fears people might have in practicing meditation prior to doing it.
• DEBRIEF - Check in with the group. How are people doing in implementing the disciplines into their lives? Any breakthroughs? Major changes? Has anyone used them as a way to disciple someone outside of the group? Close your time in prayer.
Coming up next week: we will be covering the topic of Community. In our groups we'll be taking time to confess sins to one another. Then, in response to the forgiveness we have in Jesus, we'll be taking communion together. As a leader(s), you'll get to serve the elements (bread & juice/ wine) to your group. In preparation for this please consider, based on the convictions of your group members, whether you will be offering juice, wine or both. As well, whether you will need to provide a gluten free option for the bread as some may be allergic to gluten.
Week 8 Workbook
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