Meditations by John Dean

Monday, December 12, 2011

Simple Pleasures

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

Many folks seem to differ in their interpretation of this scripture. Their opinions may range from believing that life is only for their pleasure, to believing that enjoying life is worldly. I will leave this up to the counselors to figure out how we come up with these options. All I know is that the older I get the more I believe the Lord desires for His children to enjoy life just as parents desire their children to enjoy their lives.

For one to enjoy himself by eating and drinking may be interpreted by some as thinking that God is suggesting gluttony and drunkenness. However, that is not the case at all. To eat is not always gluttony and to drink is not always drunkenness. This scripture is simply saying that it is gift from God to be able to enjoy the natural things in life. Some folks think that for them to really enjoy themselves it should cost a lot of money, when in fact many of the most memorable pleasures are free. These pleasures may be found in visiting a friend, playing a game, walking through a mall or just simply driving and dreaming. Pleasure does not have to be expensive... it can be something very simple.

I remember occasions in our little town when a local country band (made up of some of our high school kids) would set up behind our general store and play country music. They would sell soap for the store by demonstrating how much lather it would make. I remember standing there as a young teenager, watching them and dreaming of one day singing country music and selling soap.

At other times a traveling man with a small tent would come to our little town and show black and white cowboy movies for a quarter. We would sit on uncomfortable little benches and watch the movie. The film was reel to reel and seemed to break about every five minutes. The man would repair the film by taping it back together so we could finish watching this exciting movie.

When the movie was over, folks would silently walk out into the dark and go home. Some may have to walk two or three miles down a dirt road to get back home, but that was okay after such great entertainment. I remember walking home dreaming of either being the star cowboy in the movie or the owner of the traveling movie business.

The fact is, poor people have poor ways, but I never thought that any of those simple pleasures were inferior because they did not cost much. As a matter of fact, I look back at those times with fondness and thank God I experienced them. Seldom do I look back at an expensive vacation to Europe, or a cruise or any of the other things I have done...with the same warmth as I do the soap selling country band or the traveling movie man.

The fact is, God wants us to enjoy our journey in this life and that is what our text is all about.

I thank You that You are not a hard taskmaster who wants us to live cold, drab, cheerless lives. Your desire is for your children to be happy and to enjoy the blessings that You have given to us through the fruit of our labor. Thank You Father.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Get Out Of the Boat

(Matthew 14:27-29 KJV) But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 

When Jesus said to his disciples, “Be not afraid,” what He was saying to them was “Do not dwell in the natural realm.” Fear is never found in the spiritual realm, but fear is always found in the natural realm. The disciples had just enjoyed a spiritual outpouring of the Lord before getting into the boat and now they have already moved back into natural thinking. When Jesus came to them walking on the water He was still moving in the spiritual realm. The fact is, the natural realm is always shocked by what goes on in the spiritual realm. That is why Jesus said, “Be not afraid.”

The reason this scripture is so exciting to me is because I can imagine myself, like Peter, asking Jesus the same question under the same circumstances. “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”

The reason I love Peter so much is because he was willing to risk failing in order to possibly win. I am sure he was criticized by the other disciples for making such a request of Jesus, because the “no risk-takers/ boat dwellers” will always criticize forward thinking risk-takers.

I like to think that the reason Jesus chose Peter as a disciple was because Jesus counted Peter’s risk-taking as a virtue that would be needed among His other disciples.

My entire life has been one of taking risks and walking on the edge. However, there was a time...back when my youngest daughter was only two years old...that I began to take a few less risks because of my love for her. I am by nature a very protective type person, particularly when it came to my little daughter.

One Sunday after church, my wife, my little daughter and I were sitting in a restaurant having lunch with a friend. All of a sudden my two year old daughter jumped up in her chair and shouted, “Matthew 14:29, Matthew 14:29.”  My wife and I looked at each other in shock, but we could not remember what that scripture actually said. We immediately grabbed our Bible and saw that it had to do with Peter getting out of the boat. We knew the Lord had just spoken to us and we even felt a little rebuke for even considering being safe boat dwellers.

The prophetic word that the Lord gave us through our baby that day set the course for the rest of our lives and we never looked back. From that day to this we have never considered being conservative boat dwellers again. In fact if God does not firm the water under our feet each day—we sink.

I am sure there are many today who are wrestling with the whole idea of getting out of the boat. I would never try to minimize the faith it takes to trust God for each daily step. However, this kind of faith does not come from man, it can only come from God. This is the God kind of faith that He gives to those who are desperate enough to get out of the boat and go to Jesus, even if they might sink.

Help all of us to be desperate enough for You that we would risk our own flesh sinking. Lord, help our focus to be on You and not on those who may be criticizing our feeble efforts to come to You. Lord help us to keep in mind that both the boat dwellers and non-boat dwellers belong to You as did all the disciples.

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