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THE MASTER’S MATERIAL

Neal Pollard

A while back it was popular in the religious world to talk about Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The emphasis has often been on the disciples’ experience. I believe the biblical emphasis is on the character of Jesus. The disciples are contemplating Him even as they encounter Him. They describe Jesus as “a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19). Notice three reasons why He was so mighty in word before all the people.

JESUS KNEW HIS MATERIAL. Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Truly His knowledge is perfect and ours is not, but there is no excuse for failing to study–both on our own and for a class we are teaching or sermon we are preaching.

JESUS KNEW HOW TO RELATE ITS MEANING EFFECTIVELY. The men journeying to Emma’s, after walking with Jesus, said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). The dismal method of too many Bible classes is to essentially read and paraphrase in verse by verse fashion. Preaching can too often be disorganized in delivery or vague in message. Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, NIV).  Robertson says of “rightly handling” that it means “cutting straight…Since Paul was a tent-maker and knew how to cut straight the rough camel-hair cloth, why not let that be the metaphor?” (Vol. 4, 619). As presenters of truth, tell what it meant then and in context, and then apply it!

JESUS KNEW HOW TO MAKE THE MATERIAL LIVE IN HIS STUDENTS. Luke 24:45 says, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” That is just what we are after as teachers, preachers, and proclaimers of the Word. We are not just fact-reporting. We are trying to get into the heart. Remember that Jesus sought to change lives with His teaching.

Only Jesus was the perfect teacher. But we can always be better and great. Let us mimic the Master’s approach to His material!

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meditation prayer study

When Warriors Meditate

Neal Pollard

CBS News was doing a report about a new, effective therapy for soldiers who return from combat, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Chris Eder, an Air Force veteran who had near-death experiences, has found a way to cope and helps other veterans in a group, veterans, that loses 22 people every day through suicide.  Some turn to legal or illegal drugs or other unsatisfying or unhealthy means of coping, but Eder discovered yoga and meditation.  In the course of an interview, he said, “When a warrior sits down to meditate, we know how to focus, and it happens like that” (cbsnews.com/news).

While yoga may certainly seem at odds with the tough-guy picture we have of our military, the idea of meditation is nothing new.  One of the Bible’s fiercest warriors, David, was a strong proponent of it.  The meditation he called for was not eastern or mystical, but spiritual.  12 of the 15 times the word is seen in the NASB, David is the penman, calling for the godly to meditate.  He meditates on the law of God (Ps. 1:2). He meditates in the place of worship (Ps. 27:4). He meditates on God (Ps. 63:6). He meditates on God’s works and deeds (Ps. 77:12; 145:5). He meditates on God’s precepts and ways (Ps. 119:15).  That word “meditate” means to “muse” (BDB, n.p.), “to read in an undertone” (Koehler, et al, Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon, n.p.), or the idea of contemplating something before then uttering it (cf. TWOT, n.p.).  With all of these definitions, there is the idea of deliberate, prolonged thinking about the object—whether God or His word.  The process has a profound change on the person, shaping and influencing them. There are rewards like knowledge, peace, grounding, hope, and godliness for the meditator.

It is great and necessary for you and I to engage in spiritual warfare.  We are defined by God as soldiers (cf. Eph. 6:10ff).  Yet, when we as spiritual warriors meditate through prayer, study, and contemplation of our God, we do more than soothe the savage beasts within us.  We draw greater power and strength to continue doing battle.  This week, please be found on the battlefield, but make sure you take time to meditate, too!