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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stand Still and Consider


(Job 37:14-16 KJV) Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.  Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?  Dost thou know the balancing’s of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge? 

Of all the scriptures in the Bible, to me this is the most breath taking one of all. Each time I read it I feel insignificant, small and almost unseen. On the other hand I feel blessed and favored because the God who made these things is the God I call my Father.

I particularly enjoy our text when I read (what I call), the “follow up” verses found in Psalms 8:4-6 where is says, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”

I am aware that this verse is referring to Jesus, but it is also referring to me because I am in Jesus and Jesus is in me. That means where Jesus is I am also there with Him, because He paid the price on the cross in order to give me that privilege.

Verses like these are so indescribable and yet we love to dream about them because they give our minds and imaginations a real workout. There does not seem to be any limitation to our imaginations except in cases likes these...and then we seem to have a mind burn-out.

I got an email from a good friend the other day and she was trying to describe her day to me. She said, “I had a most serendipitous (providential, God-given, divine, fortuitous) day.”  I am not exactly sure what all of that meant, but it sounds like she had a great day. Perhaps the way my friend was trying to described her day is something like trying to describe our text…you need to use a lot of big words to get it right.

I suppose there is nothing quite as active as a country boy’s imagination. I remember as a kid growing up in East Texas, how I used to like to lay in my bed at night with my window raised and look up at the stars and imagine being there. Words could not describe what I was imagining, but on the other hand they did not need to because the pictures in my mind said it all…I think.

However, my vivid imagination is no match for the reality of the above verses. I love what it says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Perhaps one of the reasons God wanted Job to consider what He had created was because Job was so used to being blessed that he forgot how to dream. Dreaming is one of the platforms for hope when one is going through the tests of life. Job apparently was so focused on living right in this world that he forgot how to dream of his future with God.

All through the Bible we see that dreaming is an “antidote” for present day pressures. That means one should never give up on their dreaming because it is the chariot that is sent from God to carry us away from the pain of the present.

Father,
Even though my mind cannot get around all that You have prepared for us…I live in the excitement of it. Thank you Father for reminding us through the story of Job to “stand still and consider” (dream), about what You have done and what You have prepared for us. Father, today I choose to practice “standing still and considering” as You have said.
Amen

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Routine


(Exodus 3:3-7 KJV) And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.  And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. 

There are so many interesting things about the man Moses that it would behoove one to study his life and learn. On one hand he did things that would indicate that he was just an ordinary man. On the other hand he did things that showed that he was a very brilliant and complicated man. However, his brilliance was often hidden by his humility.

I suppose the thing that made Moses look so ordinary was his routineness. At first glance it appears that everything he did was routine. In many cases when one’s life is governed by such routine, it eliminates their daily creativeness which is the twin brother of hope. Hope is fueled by creativeness and without it one becomes robotic in nature and will miss his God given potential.

Everyone looks at routine in a different light. Some find security in routine, whereas others find boredom in it.

After reading her daily devotion the other day, my wife came in the room and informed me that according to the writer of her devotional book…routine could be a God. My response was, “Discipline and routine are very similar so we need to be sure which one we are talking about. We should not put everything in the same category even though it looks the same.”
After all, everything about the factory worker, the teacher, the airline pilot and the farmer is routine, but that does not necessarily mean that they have made a God out of it.

Could it be that the person who wrote the devotional book has a problem with living a disciplined life and therefore they justify it by saying that routine can be a God?

Perhaps a better explanation of routine would be that it is the first step toward learning discipline. This was certainly the case with me because I had no discipline in my life at all until I was forced into learning routine.

This also seemed to be the case with Moses, Elisha, David and the disciples. Each of them had to first learn routine because it was necessary for their future life of discipline.

Routine is not a God.

Father,
I realize that to some boredom is spelled, r-o-u-t-i-n-e. Help us Lord to see that routine that is placed in Your hands will ultimately be to our benefit. Father, show us how to enjoy this first step of discipline, knowing it is for our good.
Amen

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Monday, April 8, 2013

The Hand of the Lord


(Matthew 14:27-30 KJV) But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

This is one of the most up-to-date stories in the Bible because it is much more than just a story about Peter’s impetuousness. This story paints a picture of each of our lives as we risk moving out of our comfort zone (the boat) into our potential.

In the case of Peter, it appeared that he failed when he began to sink into the water. However, that was not the case at all. The scripture did not say that he sank…it only said that he began to sink before he cried out to Jesus. That means the lesson that Peter learned was not found in his sinking, but in his crying out to Jesus.

Peter passed his test by risking all to go to Jesus in the first place. This is what each of us must do, even when it appears that troubled waters are separating us from Jesus. It is a fearful thing to step out of our comfort zone. That is why we need the “Peter type” of faith. The fact is, without Jesus there is no comfort zone.

As each of us reflects over our lives, I believe we will soon discover that the hand of Jesus has appeared to us in many different ways.

One of the ways I remember the hand of Jesus reaching out and saving me was when I was a young man in the Air Force. I was stationed in Pennsylvania and I was invited to go ice skating with some friends. Being a kid from East Texas, ice skating was as foreign to me as flying backwards…never the less I was willing to give it a try.

Three of us guys from the base took our girlfriends out to a large lake and started skating by the moonlight. I am not sure why, but when everybody else went one direction on the lake I decided to go the other direction. However, soon after going in the opposite direction the ice broke and I fell in the lake.

I started hollering for help, but by this time I was so far away from the others that they  could not hear me. I kept struggling to get on top of the ice, but all I was able to do was to break more ice. All of a sudden there appeared a large tree stump right beside me...so I climbed on top of it and jumped belly first on the ice and slid across it until I was able to stand up.

When I was able to get on my feet I skated down to the other end of the lake and told everyone what had happened. They rushed me to the home of one of the girls, set me by the fire and took care of me until they knew I was okay.

The interesting thing is…no one in the family was able to remember the mysterious stump that appeared to me that night in the lake.

Looking back at my ice skating experience I now know that the hand that reached out to save me that night was the same hand that reached out to save Peter. I also know that many other times in my life when I was sinking, it was His hand that was always there to save me. Thank you my Father.

Father,
Thank You for using this wonderful story of Peter to teach us how to reach out to You…or should I say how You reach out to us. Father, I also want to thank You  for teaching us that each time we risk stepping out of our ‘comfort zone’ (our boat) and we feel we are sinking...You are already out there waiting for us.
Amen

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The Hand of the Lord


(Matthew 14:27-30 KJV) But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

This is one of the most up-to-date stories in the Bible because it is much more than just a story about Peter’s impetuousness. This story paints a picture of each of our lives as we risk moving out of our comfort zone (the boat) into our potential.

In the case of Peter, it appeared that he failed when he began to sink into the water. However, that was not the case at all. The scripture did not say that he sank…it only said that he began to sink before he cried out to Jesus. That means the lesson that Peter learned was not found in his sinking, but in his crying out to Jesus.

Peter passed his test by risking all to go to Jesus in the first place. This is what each of us must do, even when it appears that troubled waters are separating us from Jesus. It is a fearful thing to step out of our comfort zone. That is why we need the “Peter type” of faith. The fact is, without Jesus there is no comfort zone.

As each of us reflects over our lives, I believe we will soon discover that the hand of Jesus has appeared to us in many different ways.

One of the ways I remember the hand of Jesus reaching out and saving me was when I was a young man in the Air Force. I was stationed in Pennsylvania and I was invited to go ice skating with some friends. Being a kid from East Texas, ice skating was as foreign to me as flying backwards…never the less I was willing to give it a try.

Three of us guys from the base took our girlfriends out to a large lake and started skating by the moonlight. I am not sure why, but when everybody else went one direction on the lake I decided to go the other direction. However, soon after going in the opposite direction the ice broke and I fell in the lake.

I started hollering for help, but by this time I was so far away from the others that they  could not hear me. I kept struggling to get on top of the ice, but all I was able to do was to break more ice. All of a sudden there appeared a large tree stump right beside me...so I climbed on top of it and jumped belly first on the ice and slid across it until I was able to stand up.

When I was able to get on my feet I skated down to the other end of the lake and told everyone what had happened. They rushed me to the home of one of the girls, set me by the fire and took care of me until they knew I was okay.

The interesting thing is…no one in the family was able to remember the mysterious stump that appeared to me that night in the lake.

Looking back at my ice skating experience I now know that the hand that reached out to save me that night was the same hand that reached out to save Peter. I also know that many other times in my life when I was sinking, it was His hand that was always there to save me. Thank you my Father.

Father,
Thank You for using this wonderful story of Peter to teach us how to reach out to You…or should I say how You reach out to us. Father, I also want to thank You  for teaching us that each time we risk stepping out of our ‘comfort zone’ (our boat) and we feel we are sinking...You are already out there waiting for us.
Amen

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Friday, April 5, 2013

A Level Playing Field


(1 Samuel 17:4-7 KJV) And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.  And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.  And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 

Is it wrong for one person to have an advantage over another? I suppose it would depend on the circumstances. In most situations in life an advantage does matter.

For example…in the case of war, one would certainly want the advantage over his enemy. This was certainly the case when the Philistines challenged Saul to send out his best warrior to face the Philistine’s best warrior.

The Philistines thought they had the advantage over Israel, and Saul seemed to agree with them. Goliath (the Philistine champion), was several feet taller than Israel’s best man, and his weapons probably weighed as much as the “body weight” of any one of Saul’s army. That being the case then, for all practical purposes the Philistines had the advantage.

However, with God, height, weaponry weight, age and military training do not count for much in spiritual battles. For example: one day a kid by the name of David came along. He never had a single day of natural military training, but he was able to defeat Goliath. The only thing that David knew was how to worship God, tend sheep and practice his marksmanship with his slingshot. He did not look like a warrior, nor did he act the part of a warrior, but the Bible says that “God uses the foolish things to confound the wise.”

As a result of David showing up the advantage shifted from Goliath to David.

Everyone goes through life looking for an advantage…even those who claim they do not. One gets an education because it gives him an advantage for a job over those who do not have an education. A tall man has a greater advantage over a short man when playing in the NBA. An employer interviews potential employees looking for the one who paid the price of having the advantage over the rest. Every mother and father wants their child to have the greatest advantage in life regardless of the cost.

A few years ago a couple of my ministry friends and I were visiting Wheaton University where we were invited to sit in on a conversation with a man who had started his own school. This man was meeting with five of the faculty heads plus the three of us ministers. His topic was “A level playing field.”

People were passing by this man’s school to attend Wheaton and he wanted what he called “a level playing field.” Wheaton had worked hard for many years building their reputation and academic status in order to have an advantage in appealing to students. This man’s school was only three years old and he was asking Wheaton to be “less” than they were in order for his school to be “more” than what it was…and that is what he called a level playing field.

The fact is there is no such thing as “a level playing field” in life. I am personally glad for that because that would eliminate our God given initiative and thus we would fall short of our intended destiny.

Father,
I know the reason David had the advantage over Goliath was because he spent his “sheep tending time” dressing himself with Your glory through prayer and praise.  His relationship with You is what gave him the advantage over the lion, the bear and Goliath. Father, I too want to be as diligent as David in dressing myself with Your glory through prayer and praise so that I too may defeat the Goliaths in my own life.
Amen

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