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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fire in the Belly



(1Corinthians 1:27 KJV) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world
to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty;

Sometimes it appears that God chooses the least qualified people to represent Him in the kingdom. Man on the other hand seems to choose the most qualified people to represent him and the church.

Man prefers to choose from the bright, the confident, those who are from a good family and those who present themselves well in public. As a result, most prospective ministers feel that it is necessary to spend as much time as possible attending Bible School or seminary...because they feel it is the primary ingredient for preparing them for the ministry.

However, as important as this training is, it is secondary to the fire of God that resonates in one’s belly as a result of being forgiven for one’s sins. When one repents of his sins and experiences forgiveness from God, then there is a driving force that causes him to shout his experience from the housetops. This is the purest form of ministry, and as a result it has caused more souls to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ than all the other training, schooling and preparation put together.

My intention is not to minimize the importance of Bible Schools and seminary, but quite the contrary. I believe we should be perpetual learners, because there is no premium on ignorance. That is why Paul said that we should study to show ourselves approved. My intent is to simply put things in the right perspective. 

Unless one first has the fire of God burning in his belly he really does not have the “presence” that would cause others to come to Christ...regardless of his education and preparation.

When one looks at the qualifications of those listed below it does give hope and encouragement to the rest of us.

For example, God chose Abraham which was a heathen Iraqi—to ultimately be the father of promise. He chose Moses, a man who confessed his inability to talk—to lead several million of His people. He chose Gideon (a man who referred to himself as the least of the least), to take only three hundred men who lapped like a dog—to win a miracle battle. God also chose Elijah (the Tisbite who had no personal confidence), to become a major prophet and who remains an example for us today. God chose John the Baptist who was as rough as they come—to prepare the way for Jesus.

The likelihood of any of these men being qualified enough to speak in most pulpits today is zero, yet they were generals in the past. The point is...I wonder if God chose these men because He knew they would depend on Him entirely. As a result it would cause a fire in their belly that was needed to accomplish His mission.

The older I become the more I realize that God has chosen a lot more people like me who were extremely shy and timid regarding ministry. That does not mean that we should not study to show ourselves approved as Paul said. It only means that God chose someone like us to represent Him and our only contribution  was the fire in our belly and a thankful heart.

I was so shy that when I was asked to stand up and give Sunday school announcements to a few junior boys and girls, I had to sit down and hold my head between my legs because I was passing out. As a matter of fact I was so timid that the only thing I could remember when talking to someone was what God had done for me and about the raging fire that He had put in my belly. As a result of the raging fire in me, people would get under conviction and sometimes start crying while in my presence.

I think maybe this is what Paul meant in our text when he said, “But God hath
chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath
chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are
mighty.”

I do not believe that Paul was excluding anyone when he made this statement. Quite the contrary, I believe the point that Paul was making was that God can use everyone regardless of their human qualifications.

Father,
I thank You that You do not exclude the shy, the timid, the insecure, the rejected, the uneducated, the women or the poor from Your ministry. Lord You do not see what we are, You see the dynamo we can be when we have the raging fire of Your Holy Spirit in our bellies. Thank You Father for not leaving any of us out.
Amen

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Divine Appointments


(Luke 1:13 KJV) “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy
prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt
call his name John.”

Even though I have spent a lifetime experiencing the Lord answering my prayers, I am still overwhelmed by this miracle. The thought of praying for someone to be healed or asking God to meet my needs—which He does—is phenomenal. Even though I do not understand exactly how this works in the natural, I know for sure that it does work and so I shall continue praying.

In the case of our text we see that a man’s prayer has been heard and that his barren wife will become pregnant. As a result of his continual prayer, the Lord not only heard him, but also sent an angel to deliver the message that his prayer had been answered. Wow!

Our text has four points. The first point is that Zacharias and Elisabeth are going to have a baby. The second point is that the baby’s name shall be called John. The third point is that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. The forth point is do not fear.

As powerful as the four points are   I want to particularly focus on the third point. It is amazing to me how one can talk to someone who they cannot see and still get a response from them. This was the case with Zacharias…he prayed and an angel showed up with the answer. The only condition was that Zacharias believes that his prayer was answered and that he not doubt.

I believe this is the same condition that the Lord requires of each of us...that is, to believe and not doubt.

One morning while I was praying and asking the Lord who He wanted me to pray for, He gave me an address in a part of town I was not familiar with. He told me to go to that address because someone was praying for help. I drove to that part of town, found the address and went and knocked on the front door. A lady came to the front door and asked if she could help me. I told her that I had just been praying and the Lord spoke to me and told me to come to this address because someone was praying for help.

I asked if she had been praying for help and she said yes. She was very shocked that God would answer her so fast. She invited me into her home and told me why she had been praying for help. After I prayed for her and encouraged her that God had already answered her prayer I left and never went back.

I believe God has as many messengers with the answers to prayers as there are prayers being prayed. The messengers that God sends may be an angel such as in our text or it may be a country boy from East Texas like me. It does not matter who brings the answers as long as the answers come.

I also think at some time or another most Christians have been used as a messenger sent from the Lord to someone else who needs help. Does God answer prayers…oh yeah…all the time?

Father,
Send all your children as messengers for divine appointments to those in need. I thank You Lord for your faithfulness in answering our prayers and encouraging us through the Holy Spirit, or an angel or another brother or sister.
Amen





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Monday, January 16, 2012

Angelic Protection


(Psalm 91:11 KJV) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

The study of angels has to be one of the most intriguing of all studies. As a matter of fact, if one wants to draw a crowd, all they have to do is start teaching on angels and the people will come. I think most folks believe there are angels...even though some may doubt a little because they have never actually seen an angel. I also believe that people have seen angels but do not realize it because they do not recognize them as angels they pass them by.

Angels are a part of the spirit realm. The spirit realm is actually more real than the natural realm because it is eternal, whereas the natural realm is not. Angels also operate on a much higher frequency than humans do and that is why they have to slow down their frequency to be seen.

It is possible for angels to materialize when necessary when needed. This was the case in the situation with Gideon. “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12 KJV)

This angel was sent to Gideon for encouragement and protection...just as they are sent to us today for the same reason. Even though Gideon was called by God to fight this battle, he did not have a lot of personal confidence. The Lord knew this when He called Gideon and that is why He sent the angel to encourage him.

I find great comfort in our text where it says, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” When God sends an angel for this kind of assignment that does not necessarily mean that the angel has to materialize so we can see him every time. The fact is angels do not have to materialize at all in order to get the job done.

I am sure there are times in everyone’s life when they feel as if someone was telling them not to do something…or perhaps they feel someone is telling them to do something. Sometimes they may even feel that they should not travel a certain familiar way. All of these could be warnings from an angel and not just one’s own feelings.

Women seem to be more sensitive than men when it comes to such feelings even though they may think it is just their intuition. The fact is it could well be an angel speaking into their spirit.

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 KJV) Even though I have had many experiences with angels over the years, I feel I should share the following story as my example for this Meditation.

Many years ago as a young minister, I was pastor of a small church in Southeast Texas. One Sunday after the morning service I put my three small children in our station wagon to head home. I noticed all four of my tires were almost flat. I had just enough air in the tires to drive across the street to the service station and put air back in them. I recall having a strange feeling that this was no accident and that the Lord had something to do with it. I was not sure why I felt that way until a few minutes later.

 I was only delayed about five minutes before I headed home. My home was about 45 minutes from the church and I always enjoyed driving back and forth to church on a small black top road through those beautiful East Texas piney woods. About five minutes from the service station where I had filled my tires with air, there was a train crossing—with no lights or bars for stopping cars in case a train was coming.

As I approached the train crossing I saw that a train had just hit a car about five minutes before I got there. A man was laying on the ground and his car was totally demolished. I jumped out of my car and ran to the man who was dying on the ground and started praying for him, but I was too late…he died.

As I looked back at my little children in the car, I was overwhelmed by the full knowledge of why I felt that the Lord had something to do with my almost flat tires back at the church. I grabbed my children and held them close as I thanked the Lord for sending an angel when I needed it and did not know it. From that day until this I have never doubted that an angel of the Lord was sent to protect me and my children. Also, I have never told this story until now because it was so intimately personal to me.

Are angels real? More than you know!

Father,
You said in our text, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Help all of us Lord to believe and walk in this scripture and especially in the “all thy ways” part.
Amen



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Monday, January 9, 2012

"I Do Not Care!"


(Luke_10:35 KJV) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

This has to be one of the most heart-warming stories in the Bible. Every time I read it I examine myself to see how I measure up to this ordinary caring man. Just about the time I think I am doing pretty well, I do something that makes me wonder.

In the natural it does not make sense for one to bear such a cost for something he had nothing to do with. However, this kind man was not only willing to pay the bill for the stranger’s immediate care, but he was also willing to set up a line of credit for his future care. His desire was to pay the full price even before he knew what the full price would be.

I am sure many would think, “Why is he doing this? What does he hope to get out of this?” It is amazing how in the natural we seem to always think in terms of ulterior motives. In this case there were none…he just cared!

This kind of love and care has to come from the supernatural realm and not the natural realm. I kinda understand how one can love this much if there is a relationship, however, how can one love this much when there is not a relationship?

Over the years I have actually heard two pastors stand and face their congregation and say, “I don’t care what you think, I just don’t care.”  I must admit I was as shocked and stunned as their congregations. I cannot imagine any loving parent sitting at the dinner table and making such a statement to their children.

As a matter of fact I cannot even imagine how such a thought can even enter one’s mind, much less come out of one’s mouth. What a contrast between these two pastors who are supposed to love and care for their sheep and the kind man in our text who did not even know the one he was helping.

Even if the pastors did not mean for their words to be as harsh as they sounded, that still does not change anything. The devil has the right to bind one to their words because he does not consider what you meant to say, but will use what you actually said. This of course brings a couple of scriptures to mind which can be sobering as well.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue:...” (Proverbs 18:21 KJV)

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34 KJV)

I am not sure that it is possible to be a true pastor and not care. I am not implying that the two men do not have a call of God on their lives. I am suggesting that perhaps their call is not that of pastoring a congregation.

If the stranger in our text is an example of how one should love and care for one who has been beaten up, is bloody, and undesirable, then perhaps all of us should check out our motives for ministry as well.

Father,
Help us to mature past our childish outbursts in times of personal frustration. Help us to understand that there is a penalty for such loose words which can and will be held against us. Lord, help us to be caring like the man in our text.
Amen

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Givers & Takers


     (Luke 17:17 KJV) And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed but where are the nine?

     Being grateful should be the natural response for anyone after having received a blessing. However, that is not always the case because many walk away and never say a word when they receive a gift. One may ask, “If you truly give something away then why do you have to be thanked for it…isn’t the joy of giving thanks enough?”

      In the case of our text I do not believe the point that Jesus was trying to make was necessarily that He be thanked. I believe He was simply showing us what an ungrateful heart really looks like.

     The fact is, ungratefulness is rooted in selfishness and selfishness is rooted in self preservation and self preservation is rooted in mistrust and mistrust is rooted in jealousy. In other words…I want what you have because I deserve it more than you do. All of this can be summed up in the word “ungrateful.”

      It seems as though folks in this present generation are less grateful
      than folks were in my generation. Perhaps some of that could be caused
      by overindulgent parents.

     In our text, Jesus had just healed ten lepers, but only one came back to thank Him. This is a clear picture (at least to me) of the two categories that people seem to fall into, “givers and takers.”

     Being a “taker” does not necessarily mean that one is a bad person…they are just self centered. A taker expects you to give them your time, but rarely do they want to give you their time.

     My wife is the most generous person I know. She is always ready to sacrifice her time and money at any hour of the day or night. She is a classic giver. I remember at one point in time she had a friend who was a classic taker. A classic taker can spot a classic giver across the room...just like a lion can spot its prey. As a result, my wife became a life support for this lady, praying for her night and day, as well as giving her groceries.

     There was a time when this lady was wealthy, and she is probably wealthy again. However, when she got back on her feet she dropped the friendship with my wife and went on to bigger and better things...as typical takers do. A typical taker is always one who is climbing up the ladder.

     My wife’s friend was like the “healed leapers” who took from Jesus, but did not go back and thank Him for their healing. Being a taker is a character flaw that the person does not want to be healed of—because it is their way of controlling another person. They may even be born again, but they miss out on the character of Jesus.

     The statement I am about to make is certainly not an absolute for all of the poor or the rich, because I personally know many exceptions to this statement. However, it does seem that the wealthy expect favor and the poor believe they deserve favor, which means it is hard for one to gain ground with takers such as these.

     Maybe all of us have more of a takers spirit in us than we realize. Do we
     show our un-thankfulness much like the nine leapers?

    Father,
    It is far to easy for us to see the wrong in the nine leapers and criticize them.
    Help us Lord not to make the same mistake and cause others to criticize us.
    Perhaps there are times that all of us are guilty of walking away and not
    showing a grateful heart for Your presence in a church service or having a
    prayer answered after having cried out to You.
    Amen

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