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Meditations by John Dean

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Initiate or Respond

(John 4:10KJV)  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The story of the woman at the well is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. The reason I like it so much is because I tend to see things in picture form which makes this story like watching a movie in living color.

Jesus initiated the conversation with the woman at the well by asking her for a drink of water. However, drinking water was not His highest priority because He was actually sent there on a mission from His Father.

Jesus said in John 5:19 that “He only did what He saw His Father doing”. In other words His first priority was not drinking water but imitating His Father.

For Jesus to carry out His Father’s will, He had to go out of His way to do it. John 4:3 says that Jesus was on His way to Galilee but He had to go to Samaria first. Samaria was not on the way to Galilee so that meant that He had to go out of His way in order to get onto His Father’s way.

Even though there are so many wonderful teachings in this story the one that jumps out to me the most is when Jesus said, “I only do what I see my Father doing”.

As a result of both Jesus and His Father being initiators I have made a point over the years of studying what makes others initiators as well. My conclusion is that when one first comes to know the Lord he is motivated by the same fire and desire of the Lord…and that is to do the Father’s will.

I have also come to the conclusion that when one starts out as an initiator and ends up as a responder many times it is because of fear. In other words, to the degree that the fire goes out of a person that is the same degree that fear comes in. When fear moves in it also brings its family. The names of the fear family members are pride and selfishness.   

My intent in writing this Meditation is not to bring shame to another brother or sister. It is simply to point out that when the fires of God begin to go out in one’s life then somehow that turns off the switch from being a spiritual initiator and turns on the switch to only becoming a responder.

In regard to friends, I have also noticed that most of them are responders rather than initiators. At first they start out as initiators but over time they end up being only responders. They are happy to initiate phone calls to one another in the beginning of their friendship but usually end up only responding to calls and eventually lose contact all together.

Several years ago there was a pastor in my city who was going through a very difficult time in his life. I heard about his difficulties so I came to his aid. His wife (who had been a vital part of his ministry) had recently passed away. As a result of her passing his church was not only falling apart but he was in financial stress. Because of all his problems his mental condition was also on the edge of collapsing.

I began to walk with this pastor through every step of every day. My wife and I spent countless hours praying for him and meeting his needs in any way we could. He spent a lot of time in our home and we cared for him and offered financial advice. I met with his church leaders and encouraged them as they went through this horrible experience. This whole process lasted for many months but we finally began to see light at the end of the tunnel.

As I look back at this whole ordeal I realize that I was the initiator of love to help this pastor through his problems because I was attempting to imitate Jesus. When one is motivated by such love then there is obviously no expectation of a return love because the joy is in the giving.

Even to this day I still initiate a phone call to check on this pastor even though he has never initiated a phone call back to me.

Father,
I do love the way Jesus went out of His way in order to get on Your way for the sake of giving this troubled woman a drink of living water. Thank You Lord for this tremendous example of both Your love and Jesus’s obedience. My desire is to imitate Jesus.
Amen

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Forward Thinkers

(Proverbs 29:18)  Where there is no vision, the people perish….

One of the things I love about the Bible is that it allows one to personalize it without compromising its truth. For example, our text says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” but the Vulgate Latin version renders it, “Where there is no prophecy the people perish”. The word prophecy is actually the correct word rather than the word “vision” even though there is a place where both words come together.

The word prophesying in the New Testament is often interchangeable with the word preach and therefore signifies public ministry. That being the case then what our text is really saying is if the Word of God is not preached or taught then the people perish because of a lack of spiritual food. One cannot exist without natural food and neither can one exist spiritually without spiritual food (the Word).

There is actually nothing wrong when one changes the word “prophecy” to “vision” if it helps fulfill the call of God in one’s life.

The word “vision” denotes looking forward rather than backward and therefore helps develop a healthy mind through stretching and strategizing. If such a practice is not done then the results are like putting one’s brain in neutral and therefore producing atrophy of the brain.

When one continues to talk about their past rather than their future then that would imply they see little hope for their future.

Leaving home at the age of twelve as a result of a horrendous past my future looked dismal to say the least. However, all along my wondering way I met a lot of wonderful folks who wanted to be my mother and father. Even though I only stayed with most of them for a short period of time I think I am actually a product of all of them.

As I look back I can see how God carefully put me under the influence of each one of those wonderful people for my own development.

All of them seem to have two things in common whether they were rich or poor. Number one, all of them were forward thinkers and number two, all of them saw a potential in me that was far beyond the realm of thinking for my little mind. As a result of their faith and confidence in me the sting of my past was eventually washed away.  Hence I became a forward thinker just like them.

When I first ran away I met a couple of little widows who wanted me to stay with them…so I did. Even though I was only with them for a short period of time they had a tremendous impact on my life. As a matter of fact I am still discovering the depths of that impact to this day.

I learned that it is good to occasionally remember ones past as long as it is used as a springboard for learning and for propelling one into greater depths of faith and hope for the future. However, if one’s memories are more powerful than one’s dreams then that could sabotage one’s future as well as sabotage the future of the next generation.

As a result of people such as the little widows I have also become a dreamer like Joseph. In other words I have learned that if one’s dreams do not scare them then their dreams are too small. After all, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
My conclusion is that in spite of one’s upbringing, or the lack there of, that God has built in buffers for each of us such as the little widows were to me. What I learned from the experiences of the multitude of moms and dads (the built in buffers) in my life was priceless and I am blessed.

Father,
Thank You for the nourishment in the sustaining food of “vision” because without it, I would surely perish. Help me Lord to release an ever unfolding revelation to others as these two little women did for me.
Amen






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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Daughters

(Psalms 144:12)  That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:

After reading our text my first thought was of how Jesus used natural things as metaphors in making spiritual points. In the case of this scripture the “trees and corner stones” were metaphors for our sons and daughters.

The purpose for comparing our sons to plants (or trees) was for showing their strength and endurance and the ability to stand firm through the storms of life. Every father’s desire is for his son to have those qualities.

However, the picture seems to change when it comes to describing daughters. They are described as “corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace”. This description seems more fitting for a wife than it does a young girl. As a matter of fact our entire text seems more fitting for husbands and wives than it does for sons and daughters.
If that is true then that would also explain why the Jewish Talmud explains the creation of man in such a masterful way. The Talmud says “An unmarried man is not a full man in the strictest sense. God created male and female and blessed them and called their name man”. The wife meant a home; hence the saying, “A man’s home is his wife”.

The thought behind the Talmud seems to fit our text where it says our daughters are as “corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace”.

With this wonderful description in mind I began to see my own daughter in a different light a few day ago while celebrating my eightieth birthday.  

Even though all of my children and their spouses participated in this wonderful event it was my two oldest daughters, (Vikki and Jan) who thought up this whole idea.
The girls found a large ranch (out in the middle of nowhere) that had several houses on it and rented all of them. There was a house for each one of my children and a house for my wife, our youngest daughter and me. The ranch was so far out that it did not have internet service or television. The idea was to spend time as a family while celebrating my birthday without the noise of a television or the distraction of ringing cell phones.

I must admit this whole plan was ingenious and by the time it was over everyone wanted to do it again.

I suppose my point in telling this story is that I saw my daughters in an entirely different light those three days. They seem to transition from daddy’s little girls wearing pony tells or fluffy little dresses to “corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace”. Corner stones that are strong enough and certainly worthy enough to be called the home as referenced in the Talmud.

Who are these incredible people called daughters? I am not sure. However, I have come to the conclusion that they can be whatever they need to be at any given time.
Father,
Thank You for these miracle workers called daughters and for their God given ability to be as strong as a “corner stone” and yet as tender and fragrant as a rose. I also thank You Lord for allowing me to learn another lesson about Your wonderful creation…daughters.
Amen




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Monday, February 2, 2015

Remembering the Name of the Lord

(Psalm 20:7 KJV)  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

There is a lot more to our text than one may realize. Even though the words “trust and remember” and “we and some” are completely opposite they do show the difference between one’s flesh life and one’s Spirit life.

For example: the word ‘trust’ (as it is used in our text), is a noun which means when it says that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses”, it was actually talking about self-reliance which is the arm of the flesh.

Because these chariots were built specifically for war they had blades on either side of them. The idea of the blades were to mow people down like wheat while driving through their military lines at full speed.

Their horses had also been trained to paw and trample men to death. These were such horrible weapons of war that the army that owned them trusted in them more than they trusted in the Lord.

The word ‘remember’ is a verb which means to keep an image of the Lord or an idea of who He is in one’s mind at all times. The results of this kind of remembering means that one is not only living their faith but they are also expecting the Lord to meet their needs.

Over the years I have written several Meditations which included stories of a little woman I once knew who was lovingly referred to as Ma. When I first met Ma she lived in a small wood-framed house that she referred to as her shack. Ma’s house was at the end of a sandy dirt road and it sort of leaned here and there.

In the back of Ma’s house (shack) was a garden, a chicken yard and a small fenced in area for her little mule, Jennie.

In the spring of the year Ma would often be seen in the back of her house with Jennie plowing her garden. What a picture…Jennie, the plow and Ma wearing her bonnet and apron.

When Ma needed to go to town for a little shopping she would walk the quarter of a mile down the dirt road to the train stop. The train stop was across the road from the Pentecostal church that Ma enjoyed going to. Even though the trip to town was only ten miles it took a while to get there because the train moved very slow rocking back and forth down the tracks those ten miles.

Even though life was pretty simple for Ma I do not recall ever hearing her complain or get upset or worry about anything.

I have known a lot of important people in my life but no one has taught me more about life than Ma. I learned a lot by watching her handled difficult situations as she “remembered the name of the Lord”. Some of the best lessons in life are not the result of some deep theological teaching but by watching a simple little country woman called Ma.

Father,
Thank You for putting Ma in my life to teach me the simple act of trusting in You by remembering you at all times. Help me Lord to pass those simple ‘Ma teachings’ down to others.
Amen





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