Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. (Joshua 1:7-8 MSG)
It is so easy to "get off track" when we are not paying attention. I think we sometimes find ourselves exactly where we don't want to be just because we were focusing on the wrong stuff. Yesterday, I had to keep calling my attention back to the road. I don't know why, but after being down all weekend with a head and chest cold, I just wasn't feeling my 100% yet, so I imagine this played into the picture. I had not medication on board which would have affected my concentration, but nonetheless, I found I was having to continually "refocus" on the road. Sometimes this is what happens to us in life - we just "lose focus".
The only way we begin to affect our outcome is by beginning to affect our "income". In other words, garbage IN - garbage OUT. What goes in will eventually come out - so be conscious of what is going IN. In retrospect, we do a good job of analyzing just what went wrong. We look at what we allowed to distract our focus, but it is only AFTER we see the garbage coming out! Somehow, God wants us to change this process so what goes IN is good, ensuring what comes OUT is glorifying!
Our passage gives us the answer - don't for even one minute let the Word of God be far from your mind. The NIV puts it this way: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Always on your lips - meditating on it day AND night. Well, if we truly were keeping the Word of God on our lips, wouldn't this change the way we respond? If we were pondering it day and night, wouldn't this change our actions and the sweetness of our repose? You betcha!
So, let's be practical. How on earth do we keep the Word of God on our lips? I know the world would be driven crazy if all I did all day was respond back to someone with "God hath said..."! Is this what is being said in this passage? No, I don't believe so. In fact, I think "keeping the Word of God on our lips" is really a way of saying we are to allow the Word of God to "filter" what comes from our lips - so it is "encased" in the sweetness of God's love. When the thoughts are first filtered through the "what would Jesus say" filter, we find ourselves speaking a lot less harshly, being more tolerant of our friends' failures, and a lot more grace-filled in our responses. The important beginning to applying this "filter" over our lips begins in what we put in the mind as the filtering force!
When we ponder - we chew upon. When we meditate - we go over it time and again. That is why I never find the same passage of scripture boring as I return to it time and again. I have favorite books of the Bible - the Psalms, Proverbs, the Pauline epistles. Each has a way of "hitting home" with me at the most opportune times. The more I "chew upon" the Word, the more it "gets into" the recesses of my thought. Those things which should not be occupying space in my brain begin to be exposed. Isn't that exactly what a "filter" does - it "takes away" the stuff which gives a bad taste! Now, if the Word Filter is working well in my thought life, then the words which pass my lips will have a better "taste", won't they?
You know us humans - we like shortcuts! We want the "instant". We buy lip balm and lather it on our lips repeatedly, attempting to correct chapped and dry lips. We forget about the long-term, not even realizing that those dried up lips are often the result of way too little fluid intake in the first place! To really affect the "outward" we have to take care of the "inner" needs first! I think this is the real crux of our passage today. Take care of the "inner" man by getting the Word of God into our minds. Then, we will begin to see the "outer" revelation of what is truly on the inside! Just sayin!