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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, November 24, 2014

An Untamed Tongue

(James 3:7-8 KJV)  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

It is shocking to think that everything in the world is tamable except the tongue. To make things even worse our text says that the tongue is “unruly, evil and full of deadly poison”.

In other words the tongue lies dormant like a poisonous snake until provoked and then it strikes with deadly venom. An unruly tongue strikes instinctively (like a snake) and not from a carefully thought out plan.

Jesus said “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”(Matthew 12:34)

The Apostle James goes on to say, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6) 

Over the years I have come to realize that our text was saying a lot more than I originally thought. I also discovered that I was not nearly as holy and perfect as I thought I was ether, even though I was pretty good at obeying what I believed to be the dos and don’ts of the Bible.

Those disciplines are very important and one should strive to walk righteously before the Lord doing as the Apostle Paul suggests by buffeting one’s body. However, obeying the dos and don’ts actually have more to do with the outside of a man than it does the inside of a man.

Perhaps that is why Paul said in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” In other words, one’s outside discipline is only the first step in living righteously before the Lord. The second step is a daily renewing of his mind which is the outworking of the first step.

Okay, I think I understand all of that but what about the tongue…the tongue…what am I going to do about the tongue? All of my good works of trying to obey the dos and don’ts of the Bible are fine, but without bridling my tongue it is all for naught. Every time I think I have my tongue bridled I relax a little and it is loose again.

A couple of days ago after seeing the hand of God move powerfully in one of my services my tongue broke out of the bridle again and I spoke unkindly to a man. This man was not in my church service but he was doing some service for me back home.

I should have not only shown him mercy because I had that right but one should always show mercy to those under his authority.

After thinking about what I said and somehow trying to justify it I realized it was not necessarily what I said that was wrong but how I said it. A person with a strong personality has the ability to say something in a soft spoken way that can be as venomous as a poisons snake. Being kind when one is killing someone with their tongue does not count.

I have come to realize that one cannot tame the tongue…they can only dedicate it to the Lord and fill themselves to overflowing with His word and His presence. His presence is what disconnects the tongue from its poisonous roots and turns it into a tongue of praise.

Father,
I want to live a life of ‘tongue dedication’.  I want to be a better man and a better example to those who look to me. My desire is that my tongue be bridled tightly except when it comes to praising You. I give You all praise and honor and glory.
Amen

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fear Replacement

(1John 4:18 KJV)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Fear is one of the most crippling things known to man because it paralyzes his confidence. For example, bullies like to intimidate other people because it weakens them and gives the bully an unfair advantage.

The strategy behind intimidation is to cause doubt, and doubt was what caused Adam and Eve to sin when they doubted what God said was true. As a result of their sin, they lost their place in the Garden of Eden and their lives were changed forever. Doubt caused by intimidation will usually guarantee that one will have a head-on collision with disaster, as was the case with Adam and Eve.

Intimidation has always been an extremely effective weapon of war. It is used in military efforts as well as in all sports competition because it causes fear in one’s opponent and fear causes weakness.

We see this whole thing played out when Goliath faced Saul’s army in 1 Samuel 17. Because of the size of Goliath and his threats, he completely weakened Saul’s well-trained army and basically rendered them helpless.

However, little David was not intimidated by the threats of this loud-mouthed giant and therefore was able to defeat him with a single rock. David’s action proved to Saul’s army that size is not a factor when one operates in faith that is based on knowing the covenant of God.

There are many things that can be intimidating. One may be intimidated by heights, crowds, cliffs, important people or even people in authority. The reason these things can be intimidating is because of uncertainty, which has the same effect as facing the bully on the playground.

Fear and intimidation are such a part of our society today that it is almost as if they are in the air. We may say that we are not afraid of what other people think, but that has not proven to be true when it comes to witnessing for the Lord.

I was walking down the street in Queensberry, New York a few months ago and decided to call my wife who was back in Texas. She was taking care of our little great niece who was less than a year old at the time. Her name is Raleigh and my wife and I are absolutely goofy over that baby.

My wife, Karen, told me that she would hold the phone up to Raleigh’s ear and I could talk to her. For the next couple of minutes as I (a six foot two inch man) walked down the street in Queensberry, New York, I talked baby-talk to little Raleigh without any fear or intimidation. I am sure the other people on the street who heard me thought I was off my rocker, but I did not care.

Night before last I woke up at one o-clock in the morning and the Lord brought back to my mind the time I talked baby-talk to Raleigh as I walked down the street in Queensberry, New York. That morning the Lord taught me something about that experience that I shall never forget. I learned at one o-clock in the morning lying in my bed that the only defense for intimidation and fear is true love. My love for baby Raleigh consumed intimidation and it had to yield to the greater force which is true love.

Father,
Thank You for showing me early that morning that the only antidote for fear and intimidation is true love. True love is what caused David to defeat Goliath and the same true love is what caused me to walk down the streets in Queensberry, New York talking baby-talk to little Raleigh. The same true love will also help me to have no intimidation as I blow the trumpet for You, Lord.

Amen

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Learning from the Past

(Revelation 1:11 KJV)  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Of all the giftings that a parent dreams of for their child…writing would rarely be at the top of the list. Could it be that most parents think that the gift of writing should be in the hobby category and not seriously taken as a means for support?

There is certainly something to be said for that conclusion and yet without writers and scribes one would not have the Bible, history or great literary works to learn from and be inspired by. The fact is, if things were not written down, one’s education would be reduced significantly.

However, God seems to have put something in mankind that drives him to record his thoughts and his history. If that is the case, then it has to be one of the most unsung and yet needed gifting of all time.

Perhaps when Adam was created he had the ability to remember everything like God did, but when Adam sinned he lost that ability and now man has to write down his thoughts.

My intent in using this text is not to discuss eschatology, but to point out that John (the writer) felt the need to record his vision in a book for others to read. I believe the driving force behind this 92 year old man to record his vision (revelation) is extremely significant. His vision was a message that everyone needed to read…and read…and read…and that is why it needed to be written down rather than just talked about.

Recently while ministering in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area I had the opportunity to visit the Petroglyph National Park. The park was one long range of volcanic eruptions instead of single mountain eruptions. I stood in awe as I looked at this one-of-a-kind phenomenon with all of its large black boulders laying there as memorials. One of the things that intrigued me was the 20,000 writings and images that had been pecked out on the black boulders. These writings and images dated back hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

I could not help but wonder what was on the minds of the artists/writers as they chipped away at the stones in order to get their message out. Why did they feel the need to take the time to do such art work/writings?

Was their reason for writing or drawing so that future generations could know of their existence or was it only to express their own feelings? Perhaps I need to ask myself the same question since I too write.

As I think back on my day at Petroglyph National Park I cannot help but wonder if those people felt at least something of what the apostle John felt as he wrote the book of Revelation. I realize their message was not on the same level as John’s message, but my point has to do more with the motivation behind the writing than the writing itself.

Father,
Thank You for giving us so many ways of expressing our thoughts and emotions. I pray that my own writings will inspire and encourage others to look up and move forward knowing that “all things work together for the good to them that love God.”

Amen

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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Polar Express

(Leviticus 19:32)  Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

Sometimes I think respect and honor have gone the way of the pipe organ. When I was growing up, those qualities were such a fundamental part of life that it would never cross one’s mind not to show respect and honor, especially to elders.

It seems to me that during the rebellion of the 1960’s a spirit of overfamiliarity came in and consumed one of this countries natural treasures. That treasure is the respect for one another and especially for older folks and those in authority.

Perhaps the reason the subject of honor was addressed in our text in the first place was to remind us of how God feels about it. I also find it interesting that our text seems to imply that there is a relationship between respecting old men and fearing God. As a matter of fact, the way our text is written it could also imply that one learns how to fear and respect God by practicing on older men.

If that is true then does it mean that one’s salvation is in question where there is no respect or does it only mean that one only knows God in an immature way? It would certainly seem to me that if one does not respect and honor God, then how can they really know Jesus as their Lord.

Overfamiliarity is a spirit and one of the most subtle traps of all time because it can devour one’s basic ability to show respect and honor on any level. That would also mean if one cannot show respect and honor, then their ability to show true love is also in question.

I was watching a car show last night on television and it showed a museum of one-of-a-kind cars. Standing alone was a sports car and the man being shown this car gasped for breath when the owner said to him “Would you like to sit in the car?” “Oh yes!” the man said as he took off his shoes and gently opened the car door and eased down in the seat. The owner then replied, “I know you respect the car.” The man sitting in the car asked the owner the value of the car and the owner said “My wife turned down twenty-five million dollars for it.”…In other words, it was priceless.

This brings me to my own personal experience that took place recently while I was in Owosso, Michigan. I was asked if I wanted to go to the train museum and see the train that Tom Hanks used in the Christmas movie, “The Polar Express.” I excitedly said, “Yes!”

I was absolutely awed by the sight of this great train, but not necessarily because it had been used in the movie, “The Polar Express,” but because it was so massive and beautiful and powerful. As I stood looking at Steam Locomotive No.1225 it seemed to demand a respect because of the important role it played during World War II, It totaled five hundred thousand miles hauling materials back and forth across the state. You might even say that Steam Locomotive No. 1225 helped win World War II.

As I stood there that day looking at this massive steam engine, I was inspired by the fact that it is still in use. It no longer hauls materials up and down the track at sixty MPH as it once did, but it still does haul sightseers up and down the track at forty MPH.

I seemed to notice that those who respect things such as the expensive car in the museum and Steam Locomotive No. 1225 are more likely to know how to show respect for other things (such as the elderly). That being the case then it is not hard for that person to also show respect for God because that level of respect and honor resides in them.

Father,
My desire is for respect and honor to not only reside in me, but to be manifested through me in my daily life toward others and especially toward You. Lord, my respect for things such as Steam Locomotive No. 1225 are not in the same category as my love and respect for You because You are due all honor.

Amen

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