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Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do Not Forget His Voice

(Psalm 85:8 KJV)  “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints...”

I love this verse because it starts off in a positive proactive way. It says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak…” which is a faith filled statement. I also love it because it leaves no doubt whether or not one can hear the voice of the Lord. Therefore one would have to conclude that the only thing in question is one’s desire to hear the voice of the Lord.

Perhaps the reason it is hard for many Christians to hear the voice of God is because they are distracted by their natural hearing to the extent that it has impaired their spiritual hearing. In other words they are trying to make their analytical mind do what only their spiritual mind is capable of doing.

Natural sounds can only be heard with natural ears and spiritual sounds are typically heard by spiritual ears. However, there have been cases where people have said that they have literally heard the audible voice of the Lord speaking to them. I would never challenge such a statement, but I will say that God’s voice can be so impactful in one’s spirit that it seems audible.

The point of this Meditation is not to debate whether or not God can speak audibly to a person. God can do whatever He wants to do, but should He choose to speak in an audible voice it is not because that person is more spiritual are more special than anyone else. As a matter of fact mouth to ear communication is a lower level of communication than spirit to spirit.

The main point of this Meditation is not how God speaks to one but that He does speak to each of us in a way that we can each hear His voice. As a matter of fact I believe that every baby is born knowing how to hear the voice of God and therefore they have to learn how to stop hearing His voice.

My wife and I have a little twenty month old niece that we absolutely adore. We have had the privilege of keeping her a lot from the time she was born. When Raleigh was just a wee little baby my wife would sit and hold her on her chest while Raleigh slept, rather than putting her in her crib…because she loved holding her. As a result I would often hear my wife whispering these words in little Raleigh’s ears as she slept…do not forget His voice…do not forget God’s voice…do not forget His voice.

I wonder if that is not the same determination that is found in our text where it says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak…?” If I may be permitted to paraphrase that statement it would read, “I will continue to hear what God the Lord speaks…”

Father,
Teach me to listen more and speak less because I never want to be distracted by things that would cause me to forget Your voice. Father, I love the wee small gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, my friend.

Amen

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hugging

(Isaiah 40:11 Message)  Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

There are many ways of showing affection, but hugging has to be the warmest and ‘most tender’ of them all. I do not understand all that takes place during a hug, but I am sure that there is a transfer of feelings in a hug that does not occur during a handshake or even a kiss.

The purpose of a handshake is to show friendship and covenant. The purpose of a kiss is to show love and passion, but hugging conveys warmth and protection and in some ways an exchange of life.

Researchers have discovered that hugging is extremely effective in healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. They have also discovered that a ‘proper deep hug’ builds trust and a sense of safety as well as heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. They even claim that an extended hug lifts one's serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. Hugging even strengthens the immune system because of the gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates. This in turn stimulates the thymus gland which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells which tends to keep one healthy and disease free.

Hugging even boosts self-esteem. From the time a child is born their family's touch shows them that they are loved and special. As a matter of fact the associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from one’s early years are still imbedded in the nervous system as adults. The cuddles a baby receives from their Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level throughout their life and therefore it gives them the ability to love themselves.

Another benefit of hugging is that it relaxes muscles which release tension. This of course takes away pain and sooths aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues and even helps balance out the nervous system.

Even though there does not seem to be an end to the benefits of hugging there is what I call ‘false’ hugging which carries no benefit at all. A ‘true’ hug is a body hug, but a ‘false’ hug is the head hug, the shoulder hug, or the side hug. These types of hugs are learned behaviors and are not natural and therefore carry no benefits.

The head hug is when two people stand far enough apart and only their heads touch when they embrace. The shoulder hug is when two people are shaking hands as if they are passing one another and their shoulders touch in the process. The side hug is when two people want no body contact at all, but feel they should at least attempt a hug.

These are learned behaviors because hugging comes natural with children and no child hugs with their head, their shoulder or with their side.

A couple of weeks ago while holding a revival in Mexico I had the privilege of having a lot of children in the services…which meant I did a lot of hugging. There is something so pure and special about hugging children and each time I did I became more and more aware that each child seemed to completely disappear in the hug. It was like we were one person instead of two.

Because their hugging was so complete I think I can understand why researchers have discovered the array of healings in hugging. I am not sure where this old saying came from, but it says, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

Perhaps this puts a deeper understanding to our text, “Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them...” However, I guess the real question is, “How many hugs a day do we need?”

Father,
You said in Matthew 10:8 to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” Is the prerequisite for healing hugging? Father we want to be both healers and huggers.

Amen

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Decrees

(Job 22:28 KJV)  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

I love this scripture and use it often because there is nothing stronger and more powerful and more creative than one’s words. Out of all the things that God has given to us, (besides salvation)…the ability to create through the spoken word is the crowning blessing.

Even though I have read the story of creation many times I still get excited every time I read that God said, “Let there be,” and something was created. The thought that God actually gave to us that same creative ability is astonishing. Just think about it…out of all of God’s creation it was man that He gave the ability to speak life into things just as He does.

Even though our text seems to be very simple there is still a wide range of interpretations by theologians.  I have studied our text backwards and forwards and I agree with the theologians that says it means exactly what it says.

I have come to the conclusion that just because one is a theologian that does not make him infallible. He can still be swayed by his core beliefs while seeking the truth.

In my freshman year in collage I had an English teacher who was an atheist. For some strange reason she was drawn to me even though she knew I was a Christian. She inserted her philosophy in her teaching every chance she got but was never able to crack my Christian armor. Even though I never witnessed or preached to her my quiet presence seemed to weaken her position.

The point that I want to make by telling this story is there are two ways to fulfill our text. The first way to fulfill our text is by “decreeing a thing” by the spoken words in order for it to be established. The second way to fulfill our text is by “decreeing a thing” by the presence of God in one’s life and that too has an establishing factor.

Even though my teacher was the only one in the room speaking…the loudest voice in the room was the voice of God coming from my life.

I cannot say what really happened to this atheist teacher but I believe she ended up walking with the Lord because I believe “a thing was established” in her life.

Father,
My desire is to live and speak in such a way that others will come to have a relationship with You. You said in Your Word, “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee.” I dedicated my life to the obedience to Your Word.
Amen










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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Death in Regret

(Luke 9:62 KJV)  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Of all of Satan’s tricks getting one to focus on their past has to be his slyest. The reason it is so effective is because it not only impedes one’s forward movement but it is also an invitation for regrets. If Satan can cause one to start regretting the sins that have already been forgiven then their power as an overcomer is weakened significantly.

There is no doubt that all of us have done things that we regret but to continue to focus on those things causes one to dilute their future and empower their past. It is a terrible thing when Satan convinces one that they are not worthy of God’s forgiveness because it robs them of the joy of their salvation. The fact is, condemnation lives very close to one’s front door and waits to be activated.

Some folks enjoy talking about their past sins and even laugh about how bad they were before they got saved. I was never able to do that because the last thing I want to do is laugh about the very things that helped put Jesus on the cross. If the Lord has forgiven me and has separated my sins from me as far as the east is from the west never to be remembered again then I do not want to remember then either.

It is not God’s will for us to make light of our past sins and neither is it His will that one lives a life of regret and condemnation. Living a life of regrets is refusing to accept God’s forgiveness.

Everyone has done things they wish they had never done but to live a life of regret for things they have no power to change is futile. Many people’s lives are cut short because of regrets, shame and self-condemnation. In other words, worrying makes one old before their time.

As a matter of fact, clinical studies have shown that regrets can trigger biological dysregulation of the hormone and immune systems that make people more vulnerable to develop clinical health problems.
I knew a beautiful lady a few years ago who was one of the most faithful people in church. She was highly respected by the church and by those who knew and loved her.
However, there was a point in her life that her family pressures got so bad that she began to give up and lose faith that God would actually heal her family problems. Over the next few years she drifted further and further away from the Lord and as a result she drifted into a life of sin.
When she finally came to herself and realized what she had done she began to repent for her sins. She knew that the Lord had forgiven her but she was never able to forgive herself and therefore this beautiful person lived a life of unworthiness. Her regrets finally drove her to committing suicide because the shame she felt was a burden that was too great for her to bare.
Who can live with the shame and condemnation that is produced by regrets…no one.
Father,
Teach us that being converted means dying to the past as the apostle Paul said and picking up a new life. Teach us that regret is an enemy that we cannot afford to make our friend. Thank You Lord that Your forgiveness and Your baptism is complete and nothing needs to be added.
Amen


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