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Meditations by John Dean

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Faces of Love



(2 Samuel 24:24 KJV) And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

When I read this scripture I am reminded that there is a lot more to ministry and dedication than just standing behind a pulpit speaking to a captive audience. It is almost as though the only recognized ministry today is “pulpit ministry” for which one is being paid.

This interpretation of ministry is totally different than what David was trying to communicate. David could not bear the thought of giving God anything that did not cost him something. His service and ministry was one of love, and the only price tag was what it cost him. I wonder how many would actually be in the ministry today if they had to pay for the privilege.

Occasionally I meet someone who actually has the “David kind of love and philosophy” for ministry. When I do meet such folks I always feel convicted and immediately begin examining my own heart and motives.

Yesterday I called to visit my little sister. Her family sort of adopted me into their home when I was a kid. She has always been very loving and quick to compliment what I do in the ministry. When I finished sharing some of the things that were going on in my own ministry, she said “I have a little ministry too, but it is small compared to yours.”

For the next few minutes I quietly listened as she humbly told me of this incredible heartwarming ministry that she and her husband are involved in. While listening to her I realized that she and her husband surely had the David type of anointing and philosophy for ministry.
She has already made (stitched with love) a hundred and sixty blankets, and has given them to different ones in her church. Her blankets are commonly known as “Shirley Blankets” because they are warm blankets of love.

She also buys Christian novels and gives them to those who love to read, but cannot always afford to buy books. At this point she has bought and given away two hundred novels.

Her husband is also in the “love ministry” as well. He has honey bee hives and gives away his honey as a love offering for his part of the ministry. How creative can two people be?

This may not be practical, but it would certainly seem fitting for all Bible school and seminary students to be able to graduate only if they can pass this one final test. That test would be to follow Shirley and Bob around for a year and learn how to minister under the David type of anointing.

The question is, “How many would leave the ministry if they had to pay for the privilege?” Wow!

Father,
Help us to always be sensitive in serving You by serving others. Help us not to expect to be paid for everything we do in the name of Christ. Teach us also to be creative in showing our love for You like my little sister and her husband, Shirley and Bob.
Amen
                         

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Old Blue


(Ecclesiastes 3:13 KJV) And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

At what point does enjoying the good of one’s labor turn into self-centeredness? It would seem that this is only possible when God is no longer the center of one’s life. Spending all your time and money on making yourself happy is not what this scripture is talking about. That would be self-centeredness.

On the other hand I have actually known folks who have chosen not to enjoy any of the good of their labor because they thought it was a sign of worldliness. Their intentions may have been right, but their interpretation of God’s plan for their happiness was wrong.

Both of those are extreme examples and neither is what the Lord intended in our text. God does not desire for His children to live a dull cheerless life. Neither does He intend for them to only think of themselves and what brings joy to them. The fact is, God wants His children to enjoy life even in the simplest of things.

I think one of the first lessons we should learn is to enjoy the simple things of life, which then helps lay the right foundation for appreciating all things in life. That simple principle has worked for me.

While growing up on a farm in East Texas one of my simple pleasures in life was to go coon hunting. I had an old “blue-tick” coon dog I called Blue. Blue was a beautiful dog (if you can call a hound beautiful), with long ears and drooping, slobbering jowls. Blue was the epitome of laziness and spent most of his time lying on the front porch asleep. The only thing that Blue liked as much as sleeping was going coon hunting.

After a hard day of work on the farm I would come in and eat my supper and eventually go to bed. Many times I would lay there in bed and look out my open bedroom window (this was before air conditioning), and enjoy the bright moonlit night while listening to the lowing of the cows and the typical sounds of night in the country. After spending time thinking about enjoying the “good of my labor” I would get out of bed, grab the shotgun and spotlight and walk out the back door hollering, “Come on Blue.” Blue and I would head for the woods expecting to find a coon. By the time I got through the barbed wire fence, Blue had usually treed a coon. I would always come running and say, “Good boy Blue.”

Blue was quite a dog…his bark was long and slow as if he was from the Deep South. As a matter of fact his bark sounded kinda lonesome. It sounded more like the sounds of a far off freight train blowing its whistle than it did a dog barking at a coon.

Even though those were simple days I learned the principle of enjoying the labor of my work as the Lord intended in our text. The fact is God wants all of His children to enjoy life as much as I did while hunting coons with old Blue.

For one to engage in either of the two extremes that I pointed out would be a form of idolatry. To spend all of one’s time seeking pleasure or rejecting pleasure would result in the same thing. The first would be that of personal worship and the second would be that of a sacrificed joy that is not required by the Lord.

Father,
Help each of us to be ministers of encouragement. There is so much sadness and need in the world today Lord that we really want to be Your hands extended. We understand that there is nothing that brings more joy to a natural parent’s heart than seeing their children happy. We also know that there is nothing that brings pleasure to You like seeing Your children happy as well. We want to help.
Amen

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Are Angels Real?


(Luke 16:22 KJV) And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

The study of angels has to be one of the most intriguing studies. Everyone wants to know if angels are real and if so, then what do they look like. Are they little fat cherubs with harps or are they nine foot beings with wings and white feathers?  When it comes to picturing angels, it seems as though our imagination knows no bounds.

The answer is, “Yes, angels are real.”  Not only are they real, but they are present with us every day. As a matter of fact, it is written that “...he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11 KJV). Just because you do not always see them does not mean that they are not there keeping watch over you.

I also find it interesting that in Luke 16:22 there is a distinction between being buried and carried when we die. The rich man was buried by other men when he died, whereas the poor man was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom when he died. That being the case, then one could conclude that the difference between being buried and carried would depend strictly on one’s relationship with God.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 KJV). I realize that this could either be talking about angels or ministers of the gospel, but I do not really think that it makes any difference. The fact is that angels do minister to us one way or the other. I find it extremely comforting to think that God loves us so much that He would actually send His angels down to encourage us.

Another interesting scripture on angels is in Matthew where he gives a stern warning concerning how we treat the “little ones.”  He said  “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10 KJV). This scripture definitely gives a new perspective on how Jesus feels about the little ones.

I have personally had a number of experiences with angels over the years. For some reason most of my experiences have either been on an airplane or in my own home. I am sure there have been many other times, but they would probably fit into the category of “entertaining angels unaware.”

I recall this one time when I was flying to Kentucky. The airplane was completely full except for one seat between me and another passenger on the three seat side of the plane all the way in the back. We were about an hour from landing when I had this unusual experience. I looked up and saw a man coming down the aisle. I was not sure where he came from because all the seats were still occupied except the one next to me. He walked up and said, “May I sit next to you?” I begrudgingly said yes and let him in. He kept trying to engage me in conversation, but I would not talk to him. As a matter of fact I was even a little rude to him as I did not want him to sit next to me because I was crowded enough without him being there.

After a time of me ignoring his many attempts to engage me in conversation, he finally got up and stepped out into the aisle...and literally vanished. At that point I knew I had “entertained an angel unaware.”

I spent the rest of the trip repenting for my arrogant attitude and asking God to forgive me and give me another chance. God answered my prayer and forgave my sin and gave me other such spiritual opportunities.

Yes, angels are real and they are sent by God to help us. I do not believe that it is the will of God for us to seek angels, but to seek Him. We see angels at Jesus’ birth, at His baptism, in the Garden of Gethsemane, at Jesus’ resurrection, and at His ascension. Angels are real and we should expect to experience more and more sightings of them in the future.

Father,
I thank You for sending angels to intercede for us, protect us and even carry us home to be with You when we die. Father, help our attention not to be on the created but on the creator.
Amen



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Monday, October 10, 2011

Ungodly Persuasiveness

(Isaiah 44:20 KJV) He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? 

Over the years I have actually known a few folks who were so persuasive that they could make you believe a lie even when you knew it was a lie. A person with that kind of persuasive power did not get it from God.

Satan is not only the author of lies, but he was persuasive enough in the Garden of Eden to deceive Eve into believing his lie. God made Eve perfect and put her in a perfect environment, yet due to Satan’s persuasiveness she believed his lie. Satan is not only the father of deception, but he also seems to have the ability to give that same persuasive power to anyone who will yield to him. When one has that kind of power it seems to propel them into committing idolatry, which is a sin.

An idolater is one who delights in his idol, or in this case his ability to persuade others to do his will. The fact is that some people just have the ability to weaken others and make them yield to their deception. Jeremiah was right when he said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV).

When one finds out that they have been deceived by another, there is a tendency for them to hold a grudge against the deceiver. The downfall of holding a grudge is that it allows the deceiver to live rent free in your head.

As strong a man as I am, I know a man who seems to have the ability to weaken me every time I am around him. What is even worse is that I cannot seem to do anything about it. Therefore I try to stay away from him even though I really care for the man. He not only has this effect on me, but on everyone in his congregation. I do not believe that spirit is from the Lord, even though he does not try to persuade me to do anything wrong. It is not good for anyone to have that kind of persuasive power over another. The only one we should be consumed by is the Lord, because there is no true knowledge apart from God and the crucified Christ.

Satan does not care if one has religion as long as they do not follow Christ’s teaching...which produces real holiness and a righteous heart. Religion on the other hand makes a man believe that he is holy and righteous when he is in fact far from God. This kind of religion is the result of being persuaded to believe a lie.

Father,
Help each of us not to be deceived as Eve was. Lord if we have been deceived in the past then help us not to hold a grudge against that person—which allows them to live rent free in our head. Our desire is to live righteously by following Your examples.
Amen

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Dove Love

(Song of Solomon 2:14 KJV) O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. 

This has to be one of the tenderest scriptures in the entire Bible. When reading this scripture one actually feels as if they are eavesdropping on a very private conversation between two lovers. I also find it interesting that Solomon referred to his lover as a dove. For Solomon, the term dove was as much of an endearing term as the word darling would be to someone else.

The Lord often teaches me as He did with His disciples...by using natural examples. It was not until a few years ago while dove hunting that the Lord began giving me revelation on why Solomon used the term dove.

I had enjoyed dove hunting for many years when the Lord chose this one particular time to reveal our text to me in a way that I would never forget. It was through that experience that I began using the term dove-love
Even though I had never heard the term dove-love before, when I experienced it I knew exactly what it meant—as well as why Solomon referred to his darling as a dove. I realize that the term dove-love in not in the Bible nor probably anywhere else for that matter, but when you experience it you know it is real.

At this particular time I owned a small ranch in South Texas that had some of the best dove hunting in the state. One day while hunting I shot a dove, and when I reached down to pick it up I discovered it was not dead but only wounded. As I picked up the wounded dove it turned its head toward me and gave me the most yielding look one could imagine.

It was at that point, while looking into the eyes of the dove that I began to understand why Solomon referred to his lover as a dove. There is no look like the look of love, and there was no better way for Solomon to express his deep feeling for his lover than by using the term “dove.”

There is a gentleness in the term dove and there is a gentleness in the term dove-love that is very descriptive of a deeper type of love. I am sure there are no natural examples of love that could come close to describing the Jesus type of love, but maybe Solomon’s description comes a little closer.

How does one describe the impossible? Trying to describe love will certainly fall into the category of the impossible, particularly when it comes to describing Jesus’ love for us. Even though I enjoy Solomon’s attempt in describing love (or should I say dove-love), it still falls short.

Perhaps what the Lord was trying to teach me that day while dove hunting was the mystery of love. Solomon may have already understood the principle that the Lord was trying to teach me.

After dove hunting that day I am not sure that I left with any more answers than when I started, but I am sure I left a lot wiser.

Father,
I thank You that Your love for us is truly indescribable. I also thank You Father for the example of Solomon as he referred to his lover as a dove. His wonderful term is a term of tenderness which is what You feel for each of us.
Amen

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