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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Spirit Lives On

(1Corinthians 13:8) Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.
  
There are some things in life that never seem to die and according to our text “love” is one of those things.

Even though I have taught on the subject of love for many years, I am still not sure that I fully understand it. All I know is that the “love” in our text is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which means that it is also a spirit. The only way one can experience this “spirit kind of love” is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I have read explanations and interpretations on the word “love,” ranging from the dictionary to the writings of others, but all seem to be more “carnal” in their interpretations than spiritual. On the other hand the ‘spirit of love’ is a miracle, it is a mystery, and its origin is not of this world which means it cannot be explained.

The reason the word love is so complex is because it is used to describe an enormous amount of feelings. These feelings may range from loving momma’s biscuits to loving God. Obviously a word with such a wide range of uses as the word “love” also has an equally wide range of meaning.

It may seem strange at first to hear that the “love from God” is a spirit. However, there are many other types of emotions that are spirits as well. Some of those spirits are good and some of those spirits are bad.

For example, in Numbers 5:14 it speaks of the spirit of jealousy. In Isaiah 11:2 it speaks of the Spirit of Jehovah and the spirit of wisdom and understanding as well as the spirit of counsel, might and the spirit of knowledge.

In Isaiah 28:6 it speaks of the spirit of justice and in Isaiah 57:15 it speaks of a contrite and humble spirit. Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the spirit of heaviness. Hosea 4:12 even speaks of the spirit of whoredom and then in 2 Kings 2:15 it speaks of the spirit of Elijah. So there are many uses for the word spirit and the word love.

Speaking of the spirit of something…I once took a driving tour on the King Ranch in South Texas. This ranch is one of the largest ranches in the world and covers over a million acres. The ranch was established in 1853 by Captain Richard King who was a very dominant man. The ranch still remains in that family to this very day.

As I drove onto the ranch that day the entire atmosphere changed. I actually felt that time had gone backward 160 years to the mid eighteen hundreds. The spirit of that time and Captain Richard King’s presence and dominance was almost overwhelming. I did not consider that to be a bad thing, but a very real thing as to how the spirit of a man can continue to live on.

It was even obvious when I drove off the ranch that day onto the highway that I was leaving the spirit of Captain Richard King at his ranch.

If the spirit of a man is that real how much more the “spirit of love” from the Holy Spirit.

Father,
My desire is that Your “Spirit of love” be the only dominate spirit in my life. I want others to feel Your “Spirit of love” when around me as I felt the spirit of a man while on the King Ranch.
Amen
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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Power of Encouragement

(Deuteronomy 3:28 ASV) But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.

There are not many things in life that are more important in helping one succeed than words of “encouragement.”

All words are powerful, but an “encouraging word” seems to actually change one’s entire way of thinking. As a matter of fact it invigorates one to make the impossible, possible. It moves one from fear to faith. It releases a determination and confidence that causes one to accomplish things beyond their knowledge, skill level and even their capability. In other words, an “encouraging word” is the “jet fuel” that propels one into realms of fulfilling their God given potential.

In the case of Joshua, an “encouraging word” from God made him a renowned leader. He led the children of Israel into battles against armies that were much larger and more powerful than they were and yet they still won.

In the case of Moses, an “encouraging word” from his father-in-law helped him establish his vision as a leader and how to govern the people.

Elijah had gotten completely off course until he had an “encouraging meeting” with the Lord while he was in the mountains. As a result of that meeting Elijah began to fulfill the real purpose of his life as a prophet.

An “encouraging word” from a young man named Elihu helped Job recover from the pitiful state of mind that he was in. Elihu “encouraged” him that what seemed to be the end of his life was actually the prelude for the double portion blessing.

Words are always a wonderful way to “encourage” someone…such as a husband telling his exhausted wife, “I love you”…or a wife telling her husband, “I am standing with you.”

One can also be “encouraged” by a look, a smile or even a touch.

The other day after boarding an airplane to go on a ministry trip, I sat there watching the others board. While sitting there I began thinking about all of the pressures associated with the ministry and even wondered how I was going to be able to go to the places I needed to go. As I sat there pondering these things, all of a sudden my attention was drawn to a young mother and a little girl making their way down the aisle.

The little girl was only about two years old and she had blonde curly hair. She was beyond being cute…without a word she stopped in front of me and laid her little head down on my arm, then she raised up and kissed my hand and without a word she continued waddling down the aisle.

I believe I will never be the same after that sweet little kiss. I immediately knew that kiss was from the Lord and He was telling me that everything was going to be alright. That kiss was all the “encouragement” I needed to put me back on the “faith track.”

Father,
I am so happy that it did not take the wealth and power of the world to “encourage” me that day…it only took Your kiss by a sweet little girl. Lord I want to live my life as an “encourager” to others as that baby girl was to me.

Amen

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Hidden Treasure

(Matthew 13:44 ISV) "The kingdom from heaven is like treasure hidden in a field that a man found and hid. In his excitement he went and sold everything he had and bought that field."

There is something about the word “treasure” that seems to trigger one’s imagination to immediately zoom past the realm of reason. Upon hearing the word “treasure” one begins to think of pirates, treasure chests, sunken ships filled with gold and money buried in cans, jars or under rocks. One might even think of the dusty covered bones of a long forgotten prospector lying next to a few bags of gold in the back of a cave.

The same reaction seems to be true when reading our text where it says that the “kingdom of heaven” is “like treasure hidden.” I think one of the points that our text is making is that the joy and benefits that come from a relationship with the Lord also inspires one’s imagination.

After walking with the Lord for so many years I am still incapable of fully understanding the treasure hidden for me to discover in His “kingdom.” I do not think it is possible for the natural mind to understand such spiritual things. Perhaps the kind of love, patience, glory and provision that is discovered in the “kingdom of heaven” only comes from abiding in Him.

I also think it is interesting that the man in our text was not just satisfied with finding the treasure, but he wanted to sell everything he owned in order to buy the entire field. His actions seem to leave us with two questions. Did he want the entire field because he thought there was more treasure hidden in it, or did he want the entire field because he felt the field itself was blessed?

I do not suppose there is any wrong answer to this question…only one’s preference. I like to think that the man wanted the field because he felt it was blessed. In other words, the real treasure he discovered is the Lord and one cannot buy that relationship…it is free. However, the relationship with the Body of Christ (or the field) is not free…it will cost you everything you have.

Last week my wife and I spent a few days on the gulf coast getting a little R&R. One day we decided to ride the ferry over to the resort town of Port Aransas and drive along the beach. While driving along the beach we passed the very sand dune that we had sat on thirty six years ago. My mind immediately recalled how we sat there and were entertained by all the cars getting stuck as they attempted to drive in the deep sand.

I remember sitting there watching all of this and unconsciously digging in the sand with my fingers. As I did that, all of a sudden I dug up a coin. As I continued to dig I continued to find more coins until I had a hand full. I was so overjoyed that I not only stopped being entertained by the stuck cars, but I also quit digging.

Perhaps I felt a little like the man in our text… I wanted the whole beach because I thought it was blessed.

I took those coins home and put them in a little plastic sack where they remain to this very day.

Occasionally, when I will look at that little sack of sandy coins, I am reminded of the blessing and provision of the Lord which is never far from my right hand…like those coins were.

Father,
I thank You for the natural lesson found in our text, but more especially the spiritual lesson. I am beginning to understand more and more what brother Paul meant in 1Corinthians 2:9 where he said, “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.” Father our desire is for You to infuse the meaning of all of this in our minds and the harmony of all of this in our hearts.

Amen

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Avoiding Shipwreck

(1Timothy 1:19 ASV) Holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith:

This particular scripture speaks of the doctrine of faith rather than the grace of faith. The grace of faith is given to every born again believer and should be confessed without wavering.

The doctrine of faith has to do with the ministry of the Word. This too should be done with a good conscience and without yielding to cowardice.

However, the only part of the conscience that is good is the part that has been sprinkled by the blood of Christ and purged from dead works.

The particular part of our text that catches my attention is the part about “ship wrecked faith.” One of many ways to wreck a natural ship is by trying to sail it in shallow waters that are only meant for small boats.

One of the ways to wreck a spiritual ship is when a “man of God” is attempting to sail his “ship of faith” in shallow waters...meant only for the immature.  However, when one expects the result of such a decision to be anything less than devastation…he is unwise.

In other words, living a lifestyle that is bound to damage one’s foundational beliefs is like sailing a ship over an unsuspected rock.  As sad as it may be, oftentimes the result of this kind of damage is the loss of family, ministry, dignity and friends.

Even though the following is a ‘third hand’ story the truth of it ministers to me in a profound way.

A man from Scotland asked a sailor how he was able to navigate his ship in a very narrow harbor at night, since each side of the harbor was filled with rocks that could wreck the ship.

The sailor said that at the other end of this particular harbor are two lights…a higher light and a lower light. He said at night one had to line up the lower light perfectly with the higher light and then go directly toward them in order to get in safely.

The more I thought about that story the more I realized how important it was in regard to our text.

Perhaps in Luke 2:52 where it says that “Jesus grew in favor with God and man” is an indication as to how one should sail his personal ship in difficult times in order not to suffer damage. Among the many other things that this verse is saying…I believe it is highlighting relationships. In other words, a horizontal relationship with man (the lower light) has the potential of “ship wrecking” unless it is perfectly aligned vertically with God (the higher light).

The fact that Jesus won favor with God first and then with man shows the pattern for “sailing success” in life.  In order to keep from “wrecking our faith,” one must walk close enough to God and man to be accountable.

Father,
Thank You for reminding us of the many dark and dangerous harbors in life that each of us are to face. I also thank You Lord for providing us with the principle of victory even before we ask. The story of the higher and lower lights is a simple reminder of how much You care for us, our safety and our relationship with our fellow man.

Amen

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Neither Poverty nor Riches

(Proverbs 30:8 KJV) Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

I have read this scripture many times over the years and apparently I thought it was a concept prayer rather than one to be taken literally. The basis for my conclusion was probably because I had also read 3 John 1:2 where it says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

I must confess that I liked the “prosper” part of 3 John a lot more than I did the “poverty” part of our text. Over the years I have had “much” and I have had “little,” but like most people I have always enjoyed “much” a lot more than I did having “little.”

Even though both of these verses are true and should be taken literally, I have also come to the conclusion that there is a much deeper meaning to them.

The verse in 3 John is obviously speaking of God’s desire for each of us to succeed in life, but it is not necessarily speaking of a larger bank account. The Proverbs verse is speaking of “soul peace” as a result of dealing with one’s vanity. It has little to do with one’s possessions or the lack of them.

For example…I have known many rich people who are actually poor and I have known many poor people who are actually rich.

I once knew an elderly black couple who lived near Houston, Texas. They were some of the richest people I have ever known. They did not have much of this world’s goods as far as I knew, but they always had more than enough food for a stranger.

Their spiritual well was so deep that I could actually sit on their front porch and listen to them talk for hours. Their presentation was simple enough for a child and yet their revelation was so profoundly deep that it would even challenge a theologian. I never heard them use big words probably because they did not know any and because none were necessary.

Each time I was around those wonderful “ordinary people” I felt spiritually shallow and immature.

Many times over the years my mind has wandered back to those glorious days. Much of the revelation I learned could not be learned in a seminary…it could only be learned sitting on a front porch being taught by my two anointed black[WDH1]  “angels.” 

Perhaps this is why I feel the verses in 3 John and Proverbs 30 have a much deeper meaning than just a natural interpretation, even though they are to be taken literally.

I must confess that I long to go back to the front porch for another lesson.

Father
Thank You for using this little black couple to teach me to drink from the deepest part of Your spiritual well. Lord, my desire is to teach others…as I have been taught.
Amen


 [WDH1]Probably should remove “black” since you are referring to them as angels.

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