Meditations by John Dean

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Roman Coin

(Luke 15:8, 9 NASV) “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’

Of all the interesting lessons in this parable, the one that seems to be among the top for me is the lesson on unity. The number ten represents wholeness, which means that when one part of the ten is missing then the whole is devalued. I realize that Jesus was talking about the joy over one lost soul being found and restored, but I think He was also speaking about the value of unity as well.

The reason this parable is so rich is because it shows that being alone (like the lost coin) had a direct effect on all the other coins. In other words the greatest value of the one coin is when it is part of the nine coins, and the greatest value of the nine coins is when they are part of the one coin. What affects one affects all.

We see this principle played out with Joshua and the Children of Israel. They were fighting battles and winning all of them until one man (Achan) disobeyed God by stealing. Because of Achan’s independent act (when he was supposed to be a part of a team), everyone else was affected and they lost the battle at Ai. In other words Achan’s independent act cost him, his family, and all of Israel.

There is no doubt that the lost coin had value within itself, but it had a different kind of value when it was with the other nine coins and that is why the woman had a party with her friends when she found the coin.

Several years ago I was in Bulgaria ministering on a mission trip. One day I went downtown to an open-air market (kind of like a flea market) where folks had tables stacked with everything imaginable.

I strolled through the market stopping occasionally and looking at things. As I was about to leave the market that day I stopped at one last table and started shifting things around on the table when I suddenly spotted what I believed to be an old Roman coin. I was intrigued by it so I paid two or three dollars for it. I brought it home, put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

However, the other day I started thinking about that Roman coin so I went and got it out of the curio cabinet and began to wonder if it had any real value. It took me a long time searching the web to find that exact coin. To my surprise I found it had great value.

Upon discovering the true value of the Roman coin, Karen and I were no longer willing to keep it in the curio cabinet. Anything that valuable needed to be kept in the safe...which is where we put it. The thing that made the difference as to where the coin was kept was its newly discovered value.

Had my coin not been separated from other coins of such value it would have never have been discovered under some worthless items on a flea market table in Bulgaria. It would have been protected in someone’s coin collection, because it was minted in 100 BC.

Perhaps this is why the woman in our text put forth such effort in searching for her lost coin, because its true value could never have been appreciated while it was lost.

Help us to abide in and enjoy our value by being in unity with those in our family, our friends, our team and all the people You put in our lives. You gave us the model of a true team as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Hearing the Voice of God

(Matthew 26:36 KJV) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 

Whatever Jesus did He always did with purpose because He never stopped teaching or giving parable-type examples. In the case of our text He chose to go to the garden of Gethsemane to pray before His capture and crucifixion, rather than to the mountain as He customarily did.

Perhaps the reason He went to Gethsemane to pray rather than the mountain was because the mountain represented a place for receiving instruction (because He only did what He saw His Father doing), and the garden represented a place of bearing one’s soul.

I am not sure I ever thought about this before, but I suppose everyone has different places they pray for different reasons. For example, if one needs to have a true two-way conversation with God, then many times they will drive around in their car so that no one will hear their conversation. Another example...if one likes to whisper their prayer in a one way conversation with God then that can be done at an “alter” or walking slowly around the house or church. Others want to pray in a dark room because they feel totally alone without any distractions. Then there are others who like to “think” their prayers, even though I believe that form of praying is totally ineffective because the Bible says to “speak a thing and it will be established to you.”

Others enjoy praying in an atmosphere of music or even in the atmosphere of a beautiful flower garden because it makes them thankful and they want to praise God.

Back in 1949 I heard a song for the first time that put me in a mood to pray, even though I was not saved at that time. The lyrics of the song went like this.
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him, though the night around me be falling,
but He bids me go; through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
(C. Austin Miles 1912)
Perhaps the composer of this song got the idea from meditating on our text. When I think of our text in conjunction with thinking of this old song, I seem to have similar emotions.

The point is, it is not where one prays that makes the difference…it is that we do pray and more importantly that we recognize the voice of all voices…and that is of our heavenly Father.

Thank You for showing us that You love to communicate with us regardless of where we pray. We also thank You Lord for showing us that just as Jesus had a garden in which to pour out His soul, it is also fine for us to have that special place to bear our own soul to You.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Your Sins Will Find You Out

(Numbers 32:23 KJV) But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

From the beginning of time man has tried to hide from his wrongdoings. When Adam sinned against God, the first thing he did was to try to hide from Him. I find it interesting that Adam thought that hiding from God was a better “first choice” than just coming right out and lying to Him. Adam apparently knew that his sin had changed his appearance and that would be a dead giveaway of his wrong doing.

According to our text it is impossible for one to get by with sinning against God, and yet we keep trying.

What is in mankind that makes him so deceitful? After all, he was made in the image of God and God is righteous and truth. Perhaps when God gave man his own free will He found that man enjoyed the exciting adventures of Satan rather than the routine righteousness of God. The result of man’s fleshly decision to sin in the Garden of Eden carried with it all the elements that would be needed for all future sins.

Even though man has the free will to sin he will never get away with it because according to our text “your sin will find you out.”

The example I am going to share is certainly not the result of sin, but rather that of                                                                                                                              being found out. The point our text is communicating is that one never really gets by with anything…much less sin.

The other day I was using a Weed-eater in my garden area and it kicked up a rock and broke the glass in our patio door. I called the glass company to come and install the new glass. Before they got to our house, I put our two little dogs (Baxter and Bonnie) out in our back yard so they would not be under foot of the glass people.

Sometime later my wife returned home and let Baxter and Bonnie back in the house. The first thing they did when they were inside the house was to go sit side by side in front of her and start talking doggie talk to her and looking back and forth at me. She said, “What did you do to them?…nothing…well you did something to them and they are telling me all about it.” The only thing I had done was to put them outside while the glass people were there. They did not like it, so they were telling on me the best way they could.

I thought to myself, when your dogs start telling on you then that is the last straw.  The point is, it is impossible to hide anything from God whether our dogs tell on us or not because our sins are bound to find us out.

This is the reason the Holy Spirit convicts us when we do we can repent rather than adjust. Adjusting to sin hardens the heart and soon one does not know the difference between right and wrong.

Thank You that our sins do find us out...because without the convicting of the Holy Spirit we would never mature and learn to live right before You. We realize Lord that “our righteousness is as filthy rags,” but when we commit our lives to You then You can be righteous in us.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Honesty and Truth

(Psalm 119-28, 32 KJV) My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. 
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

Everyone is born with the Adamic nature, therefore lying and deceiving is a natural part of one’s DNA that only needs to be developed.

Every baby starts out in life with the ability to communicate through crying. When they are hungry or need to be changed or even when they need comforting, all they have to do is cry and their needs are usually met.

Crying is supposed to be the starting point for a baby to learn how to communicate their needs. As they grow older the parents are supposed to teach them a more age appropriate way of communicating. If these ways are not taught, then what was a legitimate way for a baby to communicate turns out to be their first lesson in manipulation. This can ultimately develop patterns in the child such as bad attitudes, anger, and tantrums in order for them to get their own way.

When it comes to potty training or even teaching a child their numbers parents do not seem to have a problem. However, many parents seem to struggle a bit when it comes to teaching their child the needed communication lessons that build character. For example; a baby crying for what it needs is one thing, but when they learn that crying will also get them what they want...then that is another thing. This “wanting type” of crying is the beginning stages of developing their ability to manipulate.

Honesty and truth are not inherited behaviors. A person has to work at it in order to learn them.
I never considered myself to be a “comfortable liar,” but as a young teenager I did go through the manipulation stage. At that time I lived with a wonderful couple in East Texas who owned a dairy farm. The man was commonly known by all in our small community as Uncle Leon.

When I first got my drivers license I asked Uncle Leon if I could borrow his car so I could go to the movie on Saturday night. He agreed and so I drove the thirteen miles to the next small town where the movie was.

However, the next morning Uncle Leon called me in and asked, “How could you possibly use a full tank of gas and only drive thirteen miles?” My response was, “That beats all I have ever seen, there must be a hole in the tank.”  I knew I had been driving his car all over creation so I came up with another plan.

The next Saturday night after the movie I slipped back on the farm with the lights off and eased up to Uncle Leon’s gas tank. This tank was where he kept gas for all the farm equipment…and I filled his car up with his own gas.

I was called in again the next morning by Uncle Leon and asked, “How it is possible that you can now drive to the movie and back and not use any gas at all?” My response was, “Miracles never cease.”

Uncle Leon’s next move was to check the speedometer miles before I left home the next Saturday and again when I returned. My next move was to undo the speedometer cable and hook it back up after I had driven the allotted miles.

Uncle Leon’s next move was then to paint the connection on the speedometer cable with red fingernail polish so he would know if I broke the seal by unscrewing it. My next move was to buy my own red fingernail polish to repaint the broken seal.

I am not sure if Uncle Leon ever figured out why his tires did not last very long anymore. On the other hand maybe Uncle Leon did figure out that the reason he had to buy more gas for the farm and more tires for the car was because I had been stealing his gas and driving the wheels off his car.

I have learned over the years that love really does cover a multitude of sins even though it might encourage the development of manipulation and deception.

 Most of us are probably guilty of spoiling those we love. We also understand that by doing so we take a chance on making things a little harder on them as they transition forward in life. Forgive us Lord and help us to live a disciplined life so we can be better examples to those we love, thus discouraging deception.

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