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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, February 25, 2013

Disappointment


(Job 32:9 KJV) Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.

This scripture is not only thought provoking, but it clearly shows that things are not always as they appear to be. I must admit after reading this scripture that I wondered if I am what I appear to be to others. Perhaps it depends on who the others are.

Do others see me as a man of my word or do they see me as one who has to have allowances made for me because my results does not always match my word?

A good way to tell if a person is what they appear to be is to watch how they value time. For example, if they are always late for things, then it would not seem wise to trust them to cover your back. I have friends whom I dearly love, but I would never go into battle with them because I could never trust them to be there.

According to our text just because one is a “great man” does not necessarily mean that he is a wise one. One can have grandeur and dignity and still be void of wisdom.

Our text also says that “neither do the aged understand judgment.”  I find that interesting because one would think that if anyone should understand judgment it would be the aged. If that is the case then the aged are not always what they appear to be.

Speaking of people not being what they appear to be…I have a very embarrassing story to share on that subject.

I had a friend once who owned a big beautiful yacht. He invited my family and me to go deep-sea-fishing with him in the Gulf of Mexico. He also invited another man and his family to go along with us as well. The other man had two little sons. All of us guys were very excited about this fishing trip.

After a while the captain of the yacht said, “Well, I think this is a good place to bait the lines and start fishing.” I had barely thrown my line out when I hooked something. I did not know what it was because it never came out of the water, but I did know it had to be something big. I pulled and worked my reel for the next thirty minutes trying to get my catch in without losing it.

While I was working and sweating the man kept saying to his two young sons, “Boys, keep your eyes on Mr. Dean because he will show you the real way to reel in a big fish. Notice the artful way he is working the reel…I have never seen anything like this in my life.” They watched me intently for the next thirty minutes encouraging me every step of the way. As a matter of fact I am not sure I could have done it if it had not been for their inspiration and encouragement.

Thirty minutes later I finally got my catch to the edge of the boat…and it turned out to be nothing more than a large piece of plastic.

The man who had spent the last thirty minutes encouraging me and holding me up as an example of the greatest fisherman in the world to his little sons is now shunning me. He never said another word to me the rest of the trip.

I thought…how could I possibly go from being a hero to a heel so quickly? Perhaps it is because in his mind I turned out not to be what I appeared to be.

Father,
I disappointed this man and his little sons, not because of my character, but because of my misfortune. Lord, even though things are not always as they appear to be…that does not necessarily mean that sin is involved so help us Lord not to be so quick to judge.
Amen

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Monday, February 18, 2013

How Great Thou Art


(Psalms 95:3-6 KJV) For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

It really is beyond one’s comprehension to understand any part of the greatness of God. Each time I try, I find myself needing to humanize Him so I can at least understand a portion of His greatness. Even though I have a great imagination, it quickly fails me when it comes to imagining God’s majesty and greatness. The fact is, my mind cannot fathom how big His all-knowing power is…especially when it comes to Him taking notice of me.

It kinda burns my brain to think that the creator of worlds and galaxies...and all the other things that He does...actually knows my name and even every hair on my head. Wow! To make things even more mind-boggling He has even given me access into His throne room.

I may not be able to answer the whys and wherefores’ of God’s greatness, but there are three things that I do know…and they are;

·        Every time I think of Him I want to praise Him
·        There is no doubt in my mind that He loves me
·        My well-being is a high priority to Him

I remember as a young preacher having a job as a carpenter working for a general contractor. The contractor had me putting down molding in a large house he was building. I knew there were others working in the house, but I never paid any attention to them.

I was working in a room by myself one day and I was thinking about the greatness of God. After a while I was so overcome by His presence that I began to softly sing the song, “How Great Thou Art.” All of a sudden I heard another craftsman in the adjoining room who began softly singing the same song with me…but in Spanish. Soon we were both so overcome by the presence of God that we ran out into the hallway at the same time and immediately embraced.

We did not speak the same language, but we communicated through the universal language of love as we celebrated God’s greatness. Even though we never knew each other’s name, we knew we were brothers with the same wonderful Heavenly Father.

That day I learned that no one is ever really alone in their worship of God, because there is always someone listening who needs to join in…even if it is angels.

How big is God? I cannot answer that question, but I do find it extremely comforting to know that He is bigger than my human mind can comprehend.

Father,
A boy often says, “My dad is bigger than your dad”…hoping that he is. However, in my case I know that my Father is the biggest of all fathers and I am not ashamed to shout it from the housetops knowing that He will back me up. Thank You Lord for adopting me into Your family. Wow…I do not understand that either.
Amen

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Hiding Behind the Grocery Store


(Proverbs 18:17 KJV) He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

Most people seem to feel justified by their actions. However, many times when their actions are challenged and scrutinized, the self-confidence they based their actions on in the first place suddenly becomes weakened.

This is certainly the case in most law suits. The purpose of lawyers and judges are to dissect our actions or judgments on an issue and determine the actual right and wrong of it. We may not always agree with the judge’s decision, but he or she usually judges the right and wrongs of things void of any personal emotions.

Emotions seem to be the basis for much of one’s actions and therefore one’s actions are often based on unclear facts. When one’s emotions are mixed with one’s instincts then that creates a whole different set of problems.

Such was the case with a pastor friend of mine who was traveling by car to a church meeting with his family. He and his wife and their little baby were in the front seat of the car and their older children were in the back seat of the car.

All of a sudden the kids in the back seat started hollering and rolling down the windows because their baby brother had done the unthinkable in his diaper. The mother quickly laid the baby across her lap and changed his diaper, but as far as the other kids were concerned that did not solve the problem. In their minds the car was ruined forever and needed to be burned. They continued hollering and profusely gagging with their heads hanging out the car windows until dad finally made a decision.

As a result of this unfortunate predicament my pastor friend made an emotional-instinctive decision that turned out to be less than wise. He slung the dirty diaper out the window not realizing there was a car traveling close behind.

The wind caught the flying diaper and it hit right in the middle of the windshield of the car behind. Upon impact the golden brown wet contents of the diaper quickly spread, covering the man’s entire windshield.

As my friend looked in his rearview mirror he saw the car weaving back and forth across the highway almost turning over as the driver was trying to pull to the side of the road. The driver dared not stick his head out to see where he was going for fear his face would be as quickly covered with the same gooey substance as his windshield was.

This story ends with my friend speeding to the next town and hiding behind a grocery store until things calmed down a bit and it was safe for him to continue his trip.

The fact is...his judgment seemed right to him at the time, but on closer examination his instinctive emotions almost got him in trouble and caused harm to the driver in the next car.

Father,
We do desire to be a good neighbor even though we oftentimes allow our emotions to affect our judgment. Forgive us Lord and help us to understand that our emotions are a gift from You, but we need to learn to use them in the right way.
Amen

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Coming Home


(Luke 15:17-18 KJV) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father; I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 

When we read this story it is easy to form an opinion of this young prodigal because of his undisciplined lifestyle. We think things like, “How could he do such a thing to his father?” The fact is, probably most of us are just as guilty in the eyes of the Lord by doing some of the things we have done.

However, it is not the young man’s undisciplined life that I want to focus on today, but the fact that he remembered. I suppose at some time or another everyone has done things that have grieved their parents. But thank God that He has given us a memory that will oftentimes take us back to our roots of value.

It is sometimes easy to take our memory for granted and forget that it is a gift from God that operates like a compass. In other words, it takes us back to our foundational values. In my opinion, our memory is somewhere at the top of the list of all of the benefits given to us by God.

In the case of the prodigal his memory is what brought him back to considering the things of value he had learned as a child. His personal choice for life turned out to be a disaster, but his memory directed him back to the values of his father’s house. His memory forced him to make a comparison between his choice for life and his father’s choice for life…and there was no comparison. The disaster in his life triggered his memory to kick in and he ended up making the right decision...which was to return home.  

Even though at the time of this story I was not a prodigal like the young man in our text I can certainly identify with his memory. At the time of my story I was just seventeen years old when I joined the Air Force. After a little while I wanted to come home, so I got a pass and hitchhiked all the way from Pennsylvania to East Texas. My last ride dropped me off where my little sandy country road intercepted the highway. I remember walking the two miles down that deep sandy road through the woods to the farm.

I am not sure why, but a couple of days ago I began thinking about that experience and realized I remembered every thought I had while walking down the road that day, even though it was over 60 years ago.

As I pondered this experience I began to realize that if I can remember such things in detail, how much more the Lord remember our un-confessed sins. This is the reason we need to confess our sins...so He can forgive them and separate them from us as far as the East is from the West.

The real point is not that the prodigal sinned, but that he remembered and was able to do something about it. I think it would do all of us good to remember and thank the Lord for this valuable compass called memory.

Father,
Thank You for showing us the often overlooked lesson in our text called memory…because without it life would be much harder. Lord, I love remembering all the blessings in my life because I find them to be spiritual fuel that keeps me going through the difficult seasons of life.
Amen

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