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Bible study meditation prayer

Meditation: What is it? Why do it? How do I do it?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The concept of Biblical mediation is viewed as a mystery to many of us. The simple answer to “How do I do it?” can seem frustratingly vague. Common answers are—

“you read a passage that stands out over and over and then you think about it.”

Or maybe…

“you find a verse and then pray about it.”

Here’s what you should know about true Biblical meditation.

Three Facts About Biblical Mediation

1. It does not involve emptying your mind, but rather filling your mind with God’s mind.
2. It’s not a complex ritual in which you must reach a higher “spiritual place” to accomplish. It’s a simple act that God intended for everyone to be able to do— in order to bring you to a better spiritual place.
3. It is an intentional act. You won’t find yourself meditating accidentally. We must make time for God.
Here’s why we should all be doing this.
Four Reasons To Meditate
1. For Improved Worship
2. For Perfect Instruction
3. For Needed Encouragement
4. For Spiritual Transformation
Here’s what you will need to accomplish it.
Three Tools For Great Meditation
OBSERVATION – What does the text say?
INTERPRETATION – What does it mean in context?
APPLICATION – What does it mean for me?

Note: Combine With Prayer before and after for best results.

Here’s what you will get out of it.
Ten Benefits Of Biblical Meditation
1. Proven to lower blood pressure
2. Decrease anxiety
3. Improve heart rate
4. It enables your to relax
5. It brings peace
6. It draws you closer to God
7. It gives us confidence
8. It offers an escape from temptation
9. It provides helpful correction
10. It makes us better Bible students (Psalm 119:11)

Finally, here’s an exercise to help us see the many categories on which we can mediate. Simply answer the questions in your mind, and try to develop a habit of asking yourself personal questions about what you’re reading.

A Meditation Exercise From The Psalms
You could meditate…

On His rules (Ps. 119; look up in the ESV)
• What rules do you tend to break?
• Why do you break them?
• What’s the point behind His “rules”?

On His Promises (Ps. 119:148)
• Which of His promises bring you the most comfort?
• Has God kept His promises to you? How?

On His mighty deeds (Ps. 77:12)
• Which specific mighty deeds has God performed in the history?
• What mighty deeds do you believe God has performed in your life?
• What could God do with you today if you allowed Him to?

On His unfailing love (Ps. 48:9)
• There has never been a moment in your life when God hadn’t loved you.
• What does that tell you? What does it expose about yourself?

I hope this helps clarify what real mediation is— and how it can change your life!

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Categories
heart thoughts Uncategorized

What Are You Consuming?

Neal Pollard

A 17-year-old girl had a stomach ache so bad that she had to go to the hospital. She had lost her appetite, she could barely walk, and doctors for three years had simply given her pain medicine for her inexplicable abdominal issues. The girl’s family had paid over $7000 in medical tests to determine the root cause. The emergency visit, with two CT scans, finally revealed that the massive “tumor” inside her was actually hair—which had formed into a massive hairball. It was her own hair, which she had been compulsively eating for years. The next doctor visit will be for counseling to see if she suffers from trichotillomania (compulsively pulling out one’s own hair) and trichophagia (eating it) (via opposingviews.com).

Apparently, no one ever saw her doing this. It took time for the problem to grow and develop. Yet, there were symptoms that steadily worsened and became more apparent. It was a problem that required help to solve. It is a problem that will require continued efforts to overcome.

This young lady graphically illustrates a pervasive spiritual problem.  Solomon wrote, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus illustrates this principle speaking of normal, digestible food (not hair) as not defiling a person but rather that which comes from within a person defiling that one. He says that such things as evil thoughts, sexual sins, sinful attitudes, and sins of the tongue “proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:23).

No one may see us engage in it. It may take time for the symptoms to show up in our lives, but they will eventually show up in such things as our attitudes, speech, dress, and conduct. It will not go away by itself without efforts on our part to get rid of it and to stay free from it. Whether we perceive the pain of the problem or not, it is doing damage to us and we must take steps to remove it from our lives.

What are you consuming? Is it consuming you? Get help. Get rid of it. Get over it. The Great Physician stands ready to help, if you will go to Him!

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Categories
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!

Categories
Bible study meditation

THE MOANING OF A DOVE, THE GROWLING OF A LION

Neal Pollard

One of the more interesting Hebrew words in the Old Testament is the word translated “meditate” in passages such as Psalm 1:2.   הָגָה (“Haga”), most often found among the poets and prophets, has a wide range of meaning depending on derivation of the root word.  Elihu uses the word to speak of the “rumbling” of God’s voice (Job 37:2). Moses uses the word to speak of a “sigh” (Ps. 90:9). Isaiah uses the word to speak of the “moaning” of a dove (38:14) and “growling” of a lion (31:4). The occult mediums “whispered” and “muttered” their incantations (8:19) (Harris, et al, TWOT, 1999, n/p).  Yet, the word is often used to speak of a low voice within, pondering and rehearsing what God’s Word has to say and what it means.  This is how David and Joshua use the term in speaking of meditating day and night on God’s Word (cf. Jos. 1:8).  It is possible that in carefully considering God’s Word, the student would rehearse or mouth the words of God as they contemplated and looked into it.  One lexicography renders it “to read in an undertone” (Koehler, et al, HAL, 1999, n/p).

How one studies the Bible is very personal, but for it to have value and assist us in living the way God wants us to, there has to be a process in place that takes us beyond mere reading to comprehension and then on to application.  Meditation upon the Bible seems a vital part of this.  When is the last time in your personal Bible reading that you memorized, rehearsed, and meditated upon what you read that day?  Do you revisit in your mind what you read earlier, pondering meaning and relevance in your attempt to live as God wants you to live?  Have you found yourself returning to its truths again and again, convicting yourself of needed changes and improvements in your Christian walk?

Meditating upon God’s Word will build your reverence of it, your conviction that it as modern and relevant as today’s sunrise, and your view of it as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.  It will bind your mind and heart to the mind and heart of God.  It will help you elevate your thoughts and consider the bigger picture of eternity and not just the mundanity of earth.  It will have you singing with David, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).

Categories
attitude Current Events world

Gay Marriage, Miley Cyrus, Clive Bundy, School Shootings

 

Neal Pollard

The internet is such a great search tool.  Many, including Christians, use it on a daily basis to be informed, inspired, and intrigued. Yet, it seems to me in the years I have been blogging, and especially in the last year or two, that so many are most interested in provocative and salacious ideas.  Perhaps it is the same morbid curiosity that makes us rubberneck when driving past a wreck on the highway.  Yet, the metrics that indicates searches on my blog show a much greater interest in the political and social latest trends and topics than articles that are more straightforwardly biblical or doctrinal (i.e., grace, the judgment, worship, etc.).

Why are we so intrigued with marathon bombings, LGBT, missing airplanes, national tragedies, outrageous and outlandish behavior from athletes and celebrities, second amendment and other political and governmental topics, hot-button-issues in our brotherhood, or controversial topics?  Certainly, as we live in this world and particularly western culture, these are daily topics of conversation.  As we immerse ourselves in our technological tools (phones, tablets, computers), these are often the “trending topics.”

In our haste and zeal to slake our thirst for these things, let us be sure to also feed our souls on what will strengthen us and prepare us for the bigger fish we have to fry.  The blessed, righteous man is described as one “whose is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2).  That in no way means the righteous person is aloof and uninterested in his or her world, current events, and even popular icons of the age.  The key difference is on what he or she meditates upon and delights in.  What thrills and appeals to us more? What do we more actively pursue?

The answers to those questions are dependent upon the individual.  One can be both informed about the world and more interested in the Word.  However, may we each be cautioned about what proper balance is as well as where our greater interest lay.  What draws our attention and attracts us?  Let us be sure it is hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mat. 5:6) more than anything under the sun!