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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, July 25, 2011

Who is Your Mama?

(Genesis 21:9-10 KJV) And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. The reason I find it so exciting is because it carries with it all the promises and blessings that belong to the natural descendants of Abraham as well as to his spiritual descendants...those of us who belong to Christ. For this reason there are blessings that await us that we have not yet received.

There is another part of this story that I find interesting as well. It has to do with the conflict that began between the mothers of the two sons of Abraham. Sarah was barren and could not have children, so she suggested that Abraham have a son by her maid, Hagar. However, after awhile Sarah did become pregnant and was finally able to give Abraham a son. As Sarah began raising her own son, she became jealous of her maid Hagar...the mother of Abraham's first son. Because of her jealousy, she insisted that Abraham send Hagar and her son away into the wilderness.

Both sons belonged to Abraham, but both sons did not belong to Sarah. As a result, each son's inheritance depended on who their mother was, not on who their father was. Abraham's son with Hagar only received "gifts" whereas Sarah's son received the "promise of God." I guess the real question in cases like this is, "Who is your momma?"

While growing up in East Texas I had the privilege of living with several families...which meant I had many moms. When a foster child is taken in by a family with natural children they are aware of the difference between them and the natural children. It is not necessarily a matter of love, because many foster families love their foster children with the deepest kind of love...it is a matter of bloodline.

I lived with one family who did not have natural children, but had raised several foster children. This wonderful man and his wife loved every one of their foster children, but I seemed to be the favorite kid with the woman...and I knew it. Her husband did not see any difference between any of us, but she did. She protected me and looked out for my best interest, as Sarah protected her own son and looked out for his best interest.

Knowing that I was the favorite kid was all the encouragement I needed. I took full advantage of this situation...which meant that I looked for ways to give this dear foster mom every possible opportunity to bless me. I actually thought we had a good arrangement going, but it did not impress her husband.

There was an old saying back in those days for a child that was being spoiled by a mom. The saying was, "You are hiding the child under your petticoat." Therefore when my foster father would say to my foster mom, "You are just hiding that boy under your petticoat," I would always think to myself, "Yeah and don't you forget it either." The proof of my status of being the favorite child resulted in my receiving land for my inheritance, whereas the other children only received a good home.

I do not know if Abraham thought this way or not because he loved both of his sons. However, Sarah had her way, and her son Isaac received the "blessings of God," whereas the other boy only received gifts from Abraham.

In cases like this, the question is not who is your daddy, but "Who is your momma?"

Father,

I thank you for examples of great women such as Sarah who knew her rights and claimed them for her son. I thank you Father that because of Christ, all of us are Your favorite children and can now inherit the promises of God.

Amen

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Monday, July 18, 2011

A Hairless Horse

(Psalm 25:20 KJV) O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.

Since the soul represents one's mind, will, and emotions then a cry for help (such as in our text), is usually sincere. The mind, will and emotions could also be known as the "triplets" of the soul which give birth to self-preservation, pride and selfishness.

One's emotions are like the steering wheel of a car. They can steer you in a positive direction in praising the Lord, or they can steer you in a negative direction in preserving one's soulish desires.

It is easy to become spiritually emotional when in the presence of God while thinking about all He has done for us. This type of spiritual emotion is healthy because it is born out of a personal relationship with the Lord. Being in His presence often releases such emotions.

The flesh (or soulish) type of emotion can be stirred by many things- such as the fear of losing something or by feeling ashamed. The fact is, it takes a lifetime of dying to one's self to finally bring the soul (the mind, will, and emotions), into subjection to the Lord.

(1Corinthians 15:31 NIV) I die every day-I mean that, brothers-just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Experiences like the one I am going to share are often the spotlight that God uses to reveal to us our progress in the dying to self issue. In the case of the following story, it clearly shows that, at the time, my own self-preservation was higher on my list than enjoying my son's participation in competition. Self-preservation is often a blinder that keeps one from seeing one's self as clearly as others see them.

When my son was young he had a beautiful "Triple A" rated quarter horse. The registered name of this horse was Arkie Joe because he was sired by a powerful race horse named Arkie.

My son loved entering competitive horse shows, competing in barrel racing and other timed events in what is commonly known in Texas as "play-days." Because Arkie Joe was such a high powered horse and my son such a good rider, they won about one hundred trophies.

Things were going well until one day Arkie Joe got some kind of fungus or lice and lost all his hair. I was told by a local farmer (who was known for his home remedies) that I should rub Arkie Joe down with bacon grease, because that would cure him.

This remedy had been passed down from his grandfather so he knew that it would work. He told me, "It's a lot less expensive than taking Arkie Joe to the vet," so I thought I would give it a try.

A couple of days later my son had a big horse show scheduled that he really wanted to compete in. I gave Arkie Joe a good "bacon grease job" and away we went to the horse show.

When it was time for my son to go into the arena and compete in the barrel racing event he came through the gates "ninety to nothing" on a horse with no hair, that smelled like bacon. Arkie Joe was the ugliest horse there but he ran like greased lighting.

A more appropriate name for Arkie Joe at that time would have probably been Bacon Bit. As a matter of fact, with no hair Arkie Joe looked like an overgrown lizard wearing a saddle. Only a mother could love something that ugly.

After Arkie Joe made one run through the arena I think everyone in the stands headed to the concession stand for a bacon sandwich.

The point I am trying to make is that in a situation like this (a situation that makes one ashamed), it is easy for "self-preservation" to come into the picture. Perhaps that is what was taking place in our text when this prayer was prayed. "O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee."

It is amazing how sincere one is about putting their trust in the Lord when they think their soul (flesh) is being exposed as mine was that day. Even though I was very proud of my son's ability to compete at such a high level...I was clearly ashamed of the hairless horse.

Father,

Even though we go through life praying the Psalms 25:20 prayer (or at least thinking it), You always help us go through such soulish challenges. Lord thank You for Your patience with us in our maturing journey of replacing self-preservation with faith in You.

Amen

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Antique or Classic

(Ruth 1:16-17 KJV) And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Using old cars may be a strange way of bringing application to our text but I want to take that liberty.

I suppose if I had a second profession it would probably be that of restoring old cars. Very old cars normally fall into the two categories of antique and classic. All of those classic cars are considered to be antique, but not all the antique cars are considered to be classic.

It may seem a little crude to put people into the antique and classic categories as I am about to do, however, since I am a senior myself, and would probably be classified as an antique rather than a classic...that should give me room to take some liberty.

While some folks appear to lose their value as they grow older…other folks seem to increase in value and become more precious, like a classic. This analogy may be an over simplification of the way things really are, but it is certainly a way that this country boy can understand.

Ruth was young and beautiful when she made (what seemed to be at the time), a rash commitment. You would certainly think for one to make a 'commitment unto death' statement it would no doubt be as a result of emotional instability, however, that was not the case with Ruth. History proves that she was not only a stable woman of honor, but also a 'classic' in the making.

I believe this story was more about her 'unto death commitment, than it was about the blessings she was to receive as a result of her commitment. Ruth eventually grew old and died, but even today (thousands of years later); she is still known as a 'classic' woman.

Over the years I have tried to learn how to better distinguish between things which are antique and things that would be considered classic. I have also spent a lifetime studying people-in hopes of learning why some grow old as antiques while others seem to have a classic flair.

I have known a lot of wonderful old people in my life and have learned valuable lessons from most of them. However, occasionally I have had the privilege of meeting a person who, like Ruth, seems to always stand out above the rest and therefore would certainly fall into the classic category in my book.

My mother-in-law was such a person. She was class personified in everything she did. Since people like her intrigue me…I studied her moves, the way she dressed, the way she carried herself, her interests and her reactions to things when they went wrong.

After years of studying her life I finally came to the conclusion that a classic person is born, not made by learning how to do things. Being classic has nothing to do with how much one has…it has to do with who they are at the core. In the case of my mother-in-law, she was classic at her very core.

Even though Ruth and my mother-in-law had humility, servant-hood, and preferring others over themselves in common...that alone did not make them classics. Those things can be learned…being classic is much deeper than that.

Most of us will never attain to the classic category in the eyes of man. However, all of us will attain to the classic category in the eyes of our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

Father,

Thank you for the wonderful examples of humility, servant-hood and preferring others over themselves that were found in Ruth and in my mother-in-law. I too want to be an example to folks who may be studying my life and reactions, as I have studied others. Lord, even though we do not know how we are seen in the eyes of others…our desire is to walk righteously and upright before You. Thank You Father that through Christ even the antiques are classics in Your eyes.

Amen

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Want a Baby

(1Samuel 1:10-11a Message Bible) Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to GOD and cried and cried-inconsolably. Then she made a vow: Oh, GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, If you'll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you'll quit neglecting me and go into action for me By giving me a son, I'll give him completely, unreservedly to you.

(1Samuel 1:20) Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, "I asked GOD for him."

I do not think it is possible for a man to fully comprehend the agonizing pain a woman feels when she wants a baby, but cannot conceive. A woman's desire to be a mother has to be one of the strongest of all desires and cannot be totally satisfied apart from having her own baby.

Even though Hannah was loved by her husband, she still lived in uncontrollable sorrow because of her barrenness. Her sorrow seemed to drive her deeper into intercessory prayer in appealing to God for His favor. Because of her constant prayer she finally caught the attention of the man of God who prophesied that she would soon have her own baby...which she did.

I have known many women over the years who, like Hannah, lived an unfulfilled life because they could not have children. As a matter of fact, over the years I have broken the spirit of barrenness over several women who went on to have children and live a fulfilled life as a mother.

One night after preaching in an evening service I began praying for people in a prayer line...as I customarily did. I stopped in front of a young lady and asked, "Are you trying to have a baby?" She began weeping and said, "Yes." I told her that she was going to have a baby because as soon as I laid hands on her I saw a light explosion in her which I believed to be the spirit of a new life.

Nine months later to the day, I was back in that same church preaching when the news came that this young woman had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. The agony and pain of barrenness in her life had been broken and motherhood was now a reality, as it had been in the life of Hannah.

There is a principle in this story that applies to both men and women. That principle...unless one gives birth to the purpose for which they were created, then their life is unfulfilled and they will live in sorrow as did Hannah.

In the case of a woman, the sorrow may be that of not having a child. In the case of a man the sorrow may be that of not fulfilling the destiny for which he was created. Not conceiving and giving birth to one's purpose is a painful experience.

I am in Romania at the time of this writing and I am able to see the results of initiative barrenness in the faces of many of the older people. People who lost personal hope while under the influence of communism are still evident. The scar that hopelessness leaves on one who has their personal initiative stolen is devastating. When men and woman are robbed of their potential, they are almost like the ‘walking dead.

Father,

I pray for those who feel incomplete as Hannah did, unable to become pregnant with their dream. Help them to supernaturally conceive and deliver that which completes their lives. Lord, I pray that they will also follow Hannah's example by giving back to you the blessing which you give to them.

Amen

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