Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Memorial of Good Works

(Matthew 26:13 KJV) Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. 

There are certain stories in the Bible that paint such a vivid picture that they linger in one’s mind long after they have been read. Our text happens to be one of those stories that seem to replay itself over and over again in your mind.

Out of the goodness of her heart the young lady in our text took her very own possession (her costly perfume), and poured it over the head of Jesus as a love offering. The results of her generous offering provoked the religious spirits in the room to start screaming out. The sad thing is…it was the disciples from whom the religious screams came from.

How could the disciples (of all people), begrudge Jesus of receiving such a love offering from someone who was so devoted to Him? Apparently there was still some question in their minds as to whom Jesus really was. There did not seem to be any question at all in the mind of the young lady giving the offering.

The disciples thought a better use of the perfume would be to sell it and give the money to the poor. In other words…in their mind, the poor were a higher priority that the Son of Man.

I love Jesus’ response to the disciples after He rebuked them. He said, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her”.

The thought of actually doing something for the Lord worthy of it being a “ng a ‘memorial’the Son of Man. memorial” is quite amazing. I desire to do such a thing.

Recently, while ministering in Hungary, I witnessed something there that also had a lingering effect on me as the story did in our text. The mayor of this particular village was a woman who had been serving this village for about a dozen years. Among her many accomplishments, she did something that will forever replay itself in my mind.

In a world where babies are aborted by the millions, this mayor built a beautiful city park as a memorial to each baby born in her village. This park has lots of walkways, rose gardens, park benches and a large gazebo in the center. Each time a baby is born the mayor has a rose bush planted in the park to celebrate the new birth. The babies name is then printed on the gazebo for everyone to see.

I do not know if the mayor is a Christian…nor am I sure I will ever meet her, but her kindness really moved my heart. Upon learning of her kindness toward babies I stopped on the street next to her house and sat in the car and prayed for her and her family. As the kind act of the lady in our text was a memorial of her good works, so is the building of the park to remember babies a memorial to the mayor’s “good works.”

Perhaps it would be good for all of us to reevaluate our works to see whether they fit into the category of “good works” or just works.

Neither the lady in our text nor the mayor of the Hungarian village did their “good works” to be a memorial to themselves. Lord, help us not to work for personal recognition, but help our works to fit into the category of “good works” unto the Lord.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Imitating Christ

(Proverbs 1:8 KJV) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 

Time has a way of challenging the values that one learned as a child. As a matter of fact, one’s values are not firmly rooted and established until they are challenged and one has the opportunity to stand up for what they have been taught. As harsh as that may seem, one does not know where they really stand on an issue until they are faced with the opposing viewpoint.

Many times, our instructions (particularly from the elderly) are accompanied by stories like the parables that Jesus used in His teachings. Older folks love to teach by telling stories of their past experiences in life.

 A father, on the other hand, usually teaches through instructions or directing. In the case of our text, the child not only learns from what the father is saying, but also by watching what the father is doing. Even though our text did not actually say that the child learns by watching their father…we know it is true because teaching through watching was a Jewish tradition and therefore it was understood. For example, Paul says “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV). That means that learning is imitating what the father does as well as what the father says.

Mothers on the other hand are more interested in building character in their child. Perhaps that is why our text said that one should, “forsake not the law of thy mother.” Conquering life and overcoming its obstacles are taught by the father and usually speak of a continual series of short range accomplishments. Building character on the other hand (which is taught by the mother), is what is needed to sustain the victories. For a child to be balanced in their training they must learn to both conquer life and have the character to sustain it.

When I was growing up East Texas I had the privilege of living in many wonderful homes and therefore I had many wonderful moms and dads. I realize that is not what God had in mind for the family unit. However He did use each of my circumstances to prepare me for my future life as a minister. Looking back, I can honestly see God’s hand in all of it and therefore I feel blessed for each home experience. The varied lessons I learned in each home would prove to be a vital part of my future.

Because I have always been extremely observant, I see things that most people do not see. I watched intently what each of the men (dads) did and therefore I still use those same principles to this very day.

I also watched and listened intently to all the things the mothers taught me on the principles (law) of character. Even though I did not apply those lessons at the time, they were firmly planted in me…and I still remember them. I am fairly sure that each of those moms forgot what they taught me soon after I left their home and went to another, but each of their lessons still impact my life to this day.

The point I want to make is…be careful what you do or say, because that may be a lesson to someone who is listening and watching your life…and may imitate you.

Help us to live each day of our lives assuming there are others who will do as we do and not do as we say. Heal each of us and make us people of godly character as a result of watching You as Paul did when he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Coming To Jesus

(Matthew 19:14 KJV) But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 

I do not claim to be a theologian or the son of a theologian, but I do claim to understand something about the heart and purposes of the Lord. I am truly amazed at the explanations given by some theologians (whom I have always respected…and still do) on our text.

The fact is, even the best theologians are not infallible when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Having said that I do believe it is possible for one to become so “heady” and detail oriented that the obvious can be overlooked. Overanalyzing a verse does not necessarily lead one to God’s desired intent.

While writing this Meditation I decided to see what some of the theologians had to say about our text. It appeared that in some cases they seemed to be guessing and using human reasoning in their interpretations. That is fine for the common Bible reader, but I expect a lot more from theologians.

Could it be that when Jesus said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”, was because He actually liked kids? Why is it necessary to always make a big deal out of everything?

I remember many years ago when Elvis Presley was making his return back into the spotlight as a singer after being in movies for a long time. He and his band were sitting on a circular platform surrounded by hundreds of fans. He looked great and was dressed in tight black leather pants and jacket.

After Elvis sang to and joked with the audience for a while, one of his band members noticed a piece of fuzz on his face. The band member reached over and picked the piece of fuzz off of his face and as he did a woman from the audience ran up to get the cherished fuzz. At that point Elvis said, “I will never cease to be amazed.”

I have no doubt that in the years following the concert, the story of the fuzz grew significantly each time that woman analyzed it. The fact is, fuzz is fuzz and that is all it is, so why analyze it to death and make it something that it is not?

The same thing is true with our text. I believe that Jesus loved kids just because they were kids. Not only that, but a kid’s faith is pure and I believe that Jesus found that to be refreshing…particularly in light of the fact of the repeated lack of faith he found in His own disciples.

The point I want to make is that one should take some things at face value…like every kid does.

I think that is quite a statement…particularly coming from me because I tend to analyze everything. However, after having said that, I can also say that my faith is like that of a child…I just believe.

Our text reveals Your heart as much as any teaching, parable or healing You have performed. Thank You Lord for allowing me to see Your wonderful heart by allowing the children to joyously come to You.

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