Tag Archives: Meditation

The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritual Minded


“I have set the Lord always before me”

In Psalm 16:8, we read of the Psalmist’s declaration that he has kept the Lord always before him.

Practically what would this look like in our day?

Setting the Lord before oneself is akin to meditating upon Him.  This oft-neglected practice involves literally setting the mind upon God, thinking of Him, His attributes and character, His commands and deeds, or how He has worked in our lives.

In his book, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, Puritan John Owen provides 3 objects of meditations upon God on which we may draw our minds.

The first is the being and existence of God.  Owen calls this the foundation of “all our relation and access unto him”, the “first object of faith” and the “first act of reason”.  Allowing our minds to be drawn upon the fact that God exists is the foundation of all our meditations.  Among other things, its chief concern is to combat atheism, whether doubts may be welling up in our minds or whether practically we live as though God does not exist.

The second is the omniscience and omnipresence of God. To this, Owen adds, “we cannot take one step in a walk before him unless we remember that always and in all places he is present with us.”  God’s omniscience means that He is all-knowing.  He not only knows our day to day happenings, but He knows our thoughts, our hearts, and our motivations.  His omnipresence refers to His existence in all places simultaneously.   Whether in our most joyous of days or our darkest of hours, we may take comfort in knowing that He is there.  Reflecting upon these attributes of God together provide a great hedge against temptation to sin.  Considering that He both knows our thoughts and is present with us during temptation, and even sin for that matter, is a great motivation to flee them.

The third is the omnipotency of God. On this final object of meditation, Owen writes, “It is utterly impossible we should walk before God, unto his glory, or with any real peace, comfort, or satisfaction in our own souls unless our minds are continually exercised with thoughts of his almighty power.”  God’s omnipotency means that He is all-powerful.  God is not, contrary to many modern beliefs, engaged in a battle with Satan, sin, or evil.  He has no equal and their is no opposition that is not already under the sovereignty of God, submissive to His power.  Consider this, even Satan, as in the case of Job and Peter (including the other disciples) must seek permission before afflicting God’s people.  This meditation is a great comfort, knowing that all things are in His powerful hands which serves to specifically combat fear and anxieties in the face of affliction.

By setting the Lord always before us it serves as a spiritual exercise that strengthens our faith, restrains against sin and temptation, and comforts us in our times of distress.

But, setting the Lord before us takes effort, you simply cannot in any fashion perform this duty while coasting or vegging out.  There are no off days or vacation days in Christianity.  It is an active duty, nevertheless the product of grace working in the heart.

Let us desire and then delight to have the Lord set ever before us.  And may our meditations be done unto the glory of God for the good of our souls.

We conclude with a final word from Owen

“Men may be in the performance of outward duties; they may escape the pollutions that are in the world through lust, and not run out into the same compass of excess and riot with other men: yet may they be strangers unto inward thoughts of God with delight and complacency.  I cannot understand how it can be otherwise with them whose minds are over and over filled with earthly things, however they may satisfy themselves with pretences of their callings and lawful enjoyments, or that they are not any way inordinately set on the pleasures or profits of the world.

To ‘walk with God,’ to ‘live with him,’ is not merely to be found in an abstinence from outward sins, and in the performance of outward duties, though with diligence in the multiplication of them. All this may be done upon such principles, for such ends, with such a frame of heart, as to find no acceptance with God.  It is our hearts that he requireth, and we can no way give them unto him but by our affections and holy thoughts of him with delight.  This it is to be spiritually minded, this it is to walk with God.  Let no man deceive himself; unless he thus abound in holy thoughts of God, unless our meditation of him be sweet unto us, all that we else pretend unto will fail us in the day of our trial.” Vol. 7 pg. 378-379


Preparing for Affliction


In his treatise exhorting believers to the duty of meditation, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, Puritan John Owen (1616-1683) sets forth the following proposition on the benefit of meditating on eternity,

“There is nothing more necessary unto believers at this season than to have their minds furnished with provision of such things as may prepare them for the cross and sufferings.  Various intimations of the mind of God, circumstances of providence, the present state of things in the world, with the instant peril of the latter days, do all call them hereunto.  If it be otherwise with them, they will at one time or another be woefully surprised, and think strange of their trials, as if some strange thing did befall them.  Nothing is more useful unto this end than constant thoughts and contemplations of eternal things and future glory.”

What he is saying here, in a way that only Owen does, is that for believers, key to preparing for the coming sufferings, afflictions, and trials of this world is continual meditations on eternity.

Similarly, note the words of God through the inspired pen of the Apostle Paul

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Here we see the relationship between affliction and eternity, namely that the former is preparatory for the latter.  How so?

  1. Affliction is preparatory because, as we have seen with Job, it is a refining, purifying act of God to further cleanse the believer of defilement, strengthen faith, and develop perseverance (see Romans 5:1-5).
  2. Affliction is preparatory because due to its temporary nature, we anticipate its conclusion, knowing that it will not last forever.  Therefore by their very nature afflictions cause us to look forward to a day when they will end and eternity will begin.  This is sometimes called having an eternal perspective.

Similarly, in this passage we see that our focus should not be on the temporary, earthly, and visible things of this world, instead our focus should be on the eternal, heavenly, and invisible (at present) things of the world to come.  Having this focus constantly and consistently, as Owen states, prepares us for the arrival of affliction. It therefore does not take us by surprise, nor does it sink us into depths of despair, though we certainly may have “fear of and aversation* from great, distressing sufferings, that are above the power of nature to bear.” Nevertheless we persevere knowing that the suffering and sorrow is only temporary.

Finally, moving from a general statement on the positive benefits of meditating on eternity to a more specific look at what exactly that entails, we may note at least three objects upon which to set our minds

  1. The Restoration of All Things
  2. The Renewal of our Earthly Bodies
  3. The Christ of Eternity

For our first point we note that we must allow our minds to fix upon the restoration of all things, namely that this world, which is fading away, will one day be restored such that it will no longer be subject to the fall.  20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:21-22 

Second, we must allow our minds to fix upon the renewal of our earthly bodies.  “50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”” 1 Cor. 15:50-55

Finally, and most importantly, we must allow our minds to fix upon the Christ of eternity, for we shall finally see Him as He is.  “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2

Our best preparation for affliction is to meditate on our eternal state in glory, as such it is also the best object of our meditations during affliction. Turning to Owen for the final word, we read,

“Eternal glory is set before us also; it is the design of God’s wisdom and grace that by the contemplation of it we should relieve ourselves in all our sufferings, yea, and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”


*turning away in dislike

For additional study and meditation, read Revelation 21.

Media, Meditation, and the Mind of Christ


It may come as no surprise that the world is vying for our attention.  It’s certainly nothing new, but perhaps it has accelerated its program and expanded it’s offerings since the dawn of the Age of Consumerism particularly with technological advancements.

We’re surrounded by a sea of offerings from music, television, and the internet.  We have media in our pockets and at our fingertips, literally a world in the palm of our hands.  Long gone are the days of watching a favorite television show and having to wait an entire week to find out what was going to happen next.  We live in an age of Netflix and binge-watching, where we can consume as much as we want, when we want, how we want, and where we want.  Gone too are the mornings of slow and deliberate newspaper reading, we have and desire 24/7 news accessibility.

Additionally, we are bombarded with voices, even the one speaking through this meager blog; voices from blogs, podcasts, vlogs, radio, t.v., print, etc. all telling us how to think and what to think on.  Not only are there talking heads on these various platforms, but there is social media, where literally thousands of voices can combine to leave comments on any topic or simply speak through their own platform.  We are exposed to the lives, thoughts, and opinions of others without limit.  In fact, we expose ourselves to them each time we open Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or turn on the radio or television.

The quantity and variety of media is limitless.  Essentially, you can find anything you want at any time you want or simply wait and it will find you.  If we stopped to think about it, the amount of information our minds are exposed on a daily basis is staggering.  Oddly enough, despite all of the over-exposure to this information, all the while we remain un-engaged with people and with the media we are consuming.  In a sense it is a mindless consumption.  Simply observe a modern family in a restaurant, each with their own devices scrolling in a zombie-like, semi-vegetative state failing to realize the interactions they’re so desperately searching for lie across the table.

Is any of this consumption of spiritual profit to our minds?  With all of these voices and media options garnering our attention, clouding our minds, and sending us into a catatonic state it can be difficult, rather it can be virtually impossible, to hear the only Voice that matters.  The voice of Almighty God speaking through His all-holy Word.

Over and again in God’s Word we read such statements regarding the mind as

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

1 Peter 1:13 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 4:8-9 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things

Just in the sampling above, we see that there are calls to action for setting the mind on the things of God.  How can this happen if we allow ourselves to be bombarded with a cesspool of virtual media?  How are we to love the Lord with all of our mind if it is filled with all manner of worldliness, regardless of the media form in which it is delivered?

Simply put, we cannot.

This places a level of importance upon the much maligned and neglected practice of divine meditation.

Writing in Volume One of his works, Puritan John Owen says

“The mind must be spiritual and holy, freed from earthly affections and encumbrances, raised above things here below, that can in a due manner meditate on the glory of Christ. Therefore are the most strangers unto this duty, because they will not be at the trouble and charge of that mortification of earthly affections, — that extirpation* of sensual inclinations, — that retirement from the occasions of life, which are required whereunto.”

*killing; exterminating; unto extinction

Owen, speaking of the distractions of his own 17th Century, exhorts us that the mind must be freed from earthly affections and from those things which would hold us back and keep us from meditation, particularly on Christ.  This is the chief reason why so few give their mind to meditation, they are entangled in the mindless distractions of this age.  In order to meditate properly and effectively, these affections and distractions must be brought to extinction.  Not merely placated. Not merely lessened. But totally eradication.

So then, we are faced with a multitude of problems, from over-exposure to media, to a failure to realize we are called to meditate on Christ, ignorance of how to meditate, a variety of media distracting our minds from the spiritual discipline of meditation.

How can we possibly prepare our minds for action if we are exposed to such a quantity of mental distractions?

Perhaps our answer may be as simple as realizing that those who have trusted in Christ have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).  A mind that is transformed by renewal, not conformed to this world (Romans 12:2; Eph. 4:23).  Believer’s in Christ have been renewed in their inward man, a renewal of the mind (2 Corinthians 4:16).  This gift of a renewed mind is not to be given over to worldly pollution again (Eph. 4:17).

Far too often it seems we are content to allow our minds to veg-out in media consumption, failing to realize that there is a daily war taking place, vying for our attention with a motivation to numb us to the core of our very souls.

For the unbeliever, your mind has been blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) whose desire it is to keep you blinded by constant distractions.  It is a mind given over to futility (Ephesians 4:17) and a mind set on the things of this world, which are hostile to Christ (Philippians 3:18-19).  The only hope is a renewed mind in Christ through repentance of sin and embracing of Him by faith as Lord and Savior.

For the believer, it is a realization that we have the mind of Christ.  A mind that is not to be subject to the calling sirens of the world.  A mind that is not to be set on things below.  A mind that is to be set on, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.