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Meditations by John Dean

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Poor Rich People


(Matthew 13:22 KJV) He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 

In order for one to live a happy successful life they must first learn how to avoid ‘seed chokers’. Receiving the seed is not the problem…the problem is having something more dominant in one’s life that can choke the seed.

According to our text the ‘seed chokers’ are the “cares of this world” (anxiety) and the “deceitfulness of riches”, (that which promises to give peace and pleasure but does not). That being the case I want to focus on one of the ‘seed chokers’… the “deceitfulness of riches.”

First of all it is important to note that riches are not the issue. The issue is the false expectations that often come with riches.

Among the many benefits, wealth should not only help make one’s life a little easier, but it also gives one the ability to help others who are in need. The deceitfulness of riches happens when one believes that somehow it sets them apart from others. Regardless of one’s wealth, their personal growth still comes from walking a disciplined life and learning from life’s tests in the same way as everyone else.

If there was something wrong with wealth then God would not have given us the power to get wealth. “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18 KJV).

Wealth itself is not deceitful…the deceit comes when one believes that it is a cure-all for everything in life. False pride and power that often come as a result of having wealth are the real ‘seed chokers’.

I have actually known several wealthy people who would make excellent poor people because they always talked about not having enough. They seemed to spend rich but talk poor.

Over the last few weeks I have written several articles about an experience I recently had while visiting a large 17th century home in England. This home is no doubt one of the ‘must see’ homes in England for those who are visiting the UK.

From the outside this home is massive, breathtaking and beautiful and had the appearance of the very wealthy, but on the inside it looked as if it was decorated by the poor. The moldings, furnishings, paintings and lighting are sub par to say the least, and does not match the massiveness of the outside. This family also seemed to be a collector of unimportant things, rather than being collectors of priceless paintings, furnishings and so on like the other wealthy folks of that time period.

Through this experience the Lord seemed to reiterate to me that it is not what is on the outside that determines one’s value, but what is on the inside. Perhaps this is part of what our text meant by using the term, “deceitfulness of riches.” Could it be that true riches are not determined by what one has but who one is?

Father,
Our desire is not just to have the appearance of sufficiency on the outside, we want to be laden with the fruit of Your Spirit on the inside and as well as on the outside…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith.
Amen

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wow Factor


(Psalms 8:3-4 KJV) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 

There is nothing that can bring a “Wow” to a country boy’s mouth quicker than reading this scripture. When considering the heavens (or the heaven of heavens) it is almost an overload to one’s imagination.

The Word of God has always been breathtaking to me, but when I read a passage such as our text I not only feel as if I am losing my breath, but I also feel extremely small. The thought of God creating all of this with the “work of His fingers” is overwhelming enough, but to think that He is also mindful of me makes it even more mind-boggling.

I was talking to a friend today who was just beginning to realize how much the Lord loved him. After stumbling around for a while, but failing at finding the right words to explain his new discovery of God’s love…I thought I would give it a try. However, it did not take long before I too felt inadequate in describing God’s love—so both of us ended up just sitting there repeating the word “Wow.”

Over the years I learned that God has many marvelous things that will easily engage one’s “Wow factor.” I have always had the gift of appreciation and therefore I usually appreciate things on a little deeper level than most folks.

Recently, while visiting Alaska I seemed to be in a perpetual state of “Wow.” I realize of course, that the things that “Wow” me may not necessarily “Wow” someone else. However, if one has any “Wows” in them at all they are bound to come out the minute they cast their eyes on the pearl of AmericaAlaska.

One day I was privileged to go on a sightseeing trip to a place called Portage, Alaska. It was there that I saw the remains of a once huge glacier that has been slowly melting away. The remaining ice from this glacier is thousands of years old and is a beautiful blue color.

We spent some time “Wowing” over the glacier. Later, as we were slowly driving through the park, all of a sudden a huge black bear darted across the road in front of us. The bear was within fifteen feet of the car, and of course that started the “Wows” all over again.

As we drove out of the park and onto the highway my thoughts were still on that magnificent “four hundred and fifty pounds of solid mean” called a bear that shot across the road in front of us. I thought to myself, “What a contrast.” I had just seen a growing bear that was a few years old and a dying glacier that was thousands of years old.

Only minutes after leaving the park we were again captivated by a mountain goat comfortably walking on the side of a cleft...on what seems to be barely enough space to stand. He looked as if he was walking on thin air while picking a few morsels of grass from between the rocks. After taking a couple of pictures of the goat someone also noticed two eagles circling the clefts above.

My trip to Alaska was one filled with “awe” and “Wows” and will forever be stored in my memory bank. However, the “Wows” that I felt there are minuscule compared to the “Wows” that one can feel when seeing the handiwork of the Lord such as in our text. Wow!!!

Father,
Our mind is incapable of thinking in terms of our text and all the wonderful things that You have prepared for us. We thank You Lord for allowing us to daily walk in the miracles of life. Wow!
Amen

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Old Before Your Time


(Isaiah 40:30-31 KJV) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 

According to our text even young people can have a tendency to grow “weary, give up and utterly fall” just as often as older folks. Among the many challenges in a young person’s life…patience has to be at the top of the list. Even though the Bible does not specifically say this, it does seem to imply that it is easier for older folks to “wait upon the LORD” and “renew their strength” than it is for the younger folks.

Waiting is a learned behavior and many times it is only achieved by years of personal testing. The three areas that seem to be the hardest for a young person to be tested in are the areas of “wait, rest and little.”  They much prefer “big, stride, fly and now.”

When one “waits” it shows faith, when one “rests” it shows personal peace, and the word “little” shows one that life is a series of little steps rather than long strides.

It is not unusual to see younger folks claim to be older than they really are because they want to show they have maturity. Nor is it unusual to see older folks claim to be younger than they are because they want to keep their youth. However, it is very unusual to find an old person who claims to be years older than they really are.

Having said that...I knew a minister who had everyone convinced he was years older than he really was. He always denied any youth within himself even though he was about sixty years of age at the time. In his mind he was never old enough. He could accept youth within others, but he could not accept youth within himself. He even had me convinced that he was far my senior and therefore I treated him as my senior. It was not until years later that I learned that he and I were the same age.

He, like many others, had a low self-esteem when he was growing up, but in his case he was never able to outgrow it. Pretending to be older was his way of showing that he had wisdom...so he would be accepted. Being wise would also show that he had the ability to “rest in the Lord.” However, he sacrificed a very important season (his youth), in order to do it. My friend failed to realize that even though young folks may face many challenges and battles in life…those same battles and challenges are extremely important in building the person they are to become.

There are probably many folks today who are spiritually “lopsided,” (having skipped something important in their development). However, in spite of that they are not hindered from ending their life in the winner’s circle because of their dedication to the Lord. That means our part is to show the “love of God” to others that appear to be a little “lopsided” so they will show the “love of God” to us in spite of our “lopsidedness”.

The fact is every season is important in one’s life, so there is no advantage in trying to skip a season…or in this case “being old before your time”.

Father,
I thank You that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in Your image. I also thank You Lord for loving us in a way that teaches us how to love others with the same God kind of love that we have received.
Amen

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Heroes


(Hebrews 11:1 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

Hebrews 11 has always been inspiring to me because it is a lesson on faith. Those who are mentioned in this chapter are not mentioned because of their righteousness. They are mentioned because of their faith. While meditating on this chapter I soon realized that these folks were no different than any of us today. The only thing that made them unique was their level of obedience to God, which in turn made them spiritual heroes.

Over the years I have noticed that people interpret the word “hero” in different ways. Some refer to movie stars, singers and even athletes as their heroes, even though the dictionary says that a hero is “One who is admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.”

With the dictionary’s definition I began to think about those who have been heroes in my life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of my heroes were common ordinary folks. In other words, these were folks who would not necessarily be recorded in history for their heroic deeds or their scientific achievement, but for their influence in my life.

Over the years I have written many stories about the heroes in my life without  calling them my heroes. The thing that actually made them heroes to me is the fact that God used each one of them to help sculpt my life and establish my values. Whatever I am today is, in part, the result of the heroes the Lord has put in my life.

An ordinary little lady from East Texas taught me how to hear the voice of the Lord and obey Him without question. A black man and his wife who live in a small wood frame house near Houston taught me how to dream dreams and see visions. My first pastor taught me how to pray by meeting with me at the altar in his small holiness church for a couple of hours each Saturday night. I learned to live by faith from an old country preacher who had nothing and yet God would supernaturally keep his pantry filled with food for his wife and children and no one could explain how.

I learned from Kenneth Hagan Sr. to expect the abundance by obeying God and believing that was His desire for my life. I learned to take the lower road and fly under the radar and allow the insecure to claim the credit for accomplishments from repeatedly reading  Reese Howell’s book on intercession. I learned to be a quick responder from a little lady who was praying for God to use her one day and He gave her a house number. The Lord told her to go to that house and a young man would come to the door and she was to tell him how much God loved him. She did not hesitate, but immediately found the house and I was the young man who came to the door.

The list of my heroes could go on and on, but they all seem to have one thing in common. They have all had a positive effect on my life and that effect will live on through others that I have influenced.

The point I hope to make is that we must live a life of encouraging others and purposefully be a hero to someone each day. As a result of that, our efforts (or heroic deeds) will live on.

Father,
Our desire is to also be listed among the faithful as those listed in Hebrews 11 were. We want to be known for our faith and obedience to Your will as we learn to walk a righteous life (thinking, speaking, doing and living in a holy manner). If we are to be a hero to others let it be as a result of our faith.
Amen

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Habits



(Proverbs 18:9 The Message) Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.

The Message (Bible) does not leave any room for negotiation when it comes to comparing “slack habits” to “vandalism.”  The Hebrew meaning for “vandalism” is destruction, corruption, snare or trap. With that interpretation of “slack habits” it shows when one is undisciplined in establishing good habits then their “slackness” could result in a corrupt and destructive lifestyle.

No one is an island unto themselves, therefore what one speaks—whether good or bad—has an effect on others., Jesus said, “...every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

One is also accountable for how they use their time. Using one’s time to establish and maintain good habits not only affects the level of success in one’s life, but it also pleases God. Living a good disciplined life is much more important to God than we first thought.

Perhaps that is why we are told that “...your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). This means that we are the caretaker of our body and responsible to God for establishing and maintaining good habits for it. This would also explain why “good habits” are so hard to create and so easy to break.
A good example of this is how on the first of each year millions of well-meaning folks make commitments to go on a diet and to do more exercise. However, the percentage of folks who actually keep that commitment is miniscule.

There are also millions of other folks who make a commitment to pray and read their Bibles more...only to begin failing within days. Perhaps “need” is the only true driving force behind successfully creating and maintaining “good habits.”

For example, “need” was the driving force behind me creating the “good habit” of getting up at five o’clock each morning in order to have the time to do my writings.
I not only write Meditations which I send out each week, but I also write for a paper in Canada that has a segment called “Ask the Pastor.” All questions that are sent in to “Ask the Pastor” are immediately sent to me. I respond by writing an answer and sending them back.

I also once wrote a daily devotion for businessmen and sent it to them before they went to work each day. A “good habit” needed to be developed in order to accomplish all of this.

There seems to be two types of needs. There is a “driving need,” such as the one I just mentioned and there is the “non-driving need” such as the need to diet. A “non-driving need” is no less important than the “driving need,” but it is easier to neglect and therefore the necessary “good habit” to accomplish it is never established.
According to our text, the point of all of this is when one’s life is made up of “slack habits and sloppy work” it will inevitably produce a “corrupt and destructive lifestyle.”

Father,
Help us to be more conscious of our responsibility in caring for our bodies and the “habits” we create. Our desire Lord is to fulfill Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” 
Amen

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