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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Young and Old Man

(Psalm 37:25)  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

The psalmist made it clear that he had confidence in the Lord taking care of him. However, because he made it so clear it does make one wonder if he did not have another point in mind.

Perhaps the other point had more to do with convincing the doubters and complainers about God’s love and provision than it was about himself.

In so doing he even felt it necessary to mention the whole spectrum of his life which included the two men that he was…the young man that he used to be who was daring, fearless and a forward think and the older man that he had become who thought things out a little deeper and was a bit more cautious.

I suppose the questions is…At what point in life do we change from being daring to being cautious, from being fearless to over thinking things, from believing that we can conquer the whole world to resting under a juniper tree like Elijah?

When the older you starts looking back at life it usually becomes very clear that you really were two people…the young man and the old. As an eighty year old man I can objectively look at my own span of life and say, “I am not the same man I used to be.”

The trials and tests that I have experienced have reshaped me into another man…hopefully a man of more spiritual substance. As an older man who can look back at my life like David did and say with him, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

I am always intrigued when I look at the obituary page in our newspaper and see the young and the old pictures of the deceased. Without exception the two pictures look like two different people. In their younger pictures all the women usually look pretty and all the men usually look handsome. However, their older pictures tell a completely different story.

In studying their faces (as I usually do)…I wonder what happened in the years between the younger and  the older picture. At what point did their youthful dreams of conquering the world fade and cold hard reality set it? How much pain, heart ache and disappointment did each one experience?

Without the Lord there is no hope for anyone. With the Lord many of those youthful dreams really do come true. Without the Lord many of the years between young and old could be lived in doubt, fear and unbelief. With the Lord faith and expectancy never die.

While looking back and analyzing  my own long life I have come to one conclusion. Even though I was not the same man as I am now…I still loved the Lord and He protected me…both the man I was and the man I became.

Father,
Even though our life may be made up of two people (the young and the old)…You are “the same yesterday, today and forever.” Thank You Lord for Your love, patience and provision for us as we grow more into Your image.

Amen

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It Is Well With My Soul

(Psalm 63:5 ASV)  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.

I love our text because it completely eliminates any room for negative thinking. It clearly shows how one’s spirit has the ability to command one’s body to comply with the word (truth). This level of self control is by choice and not by chance. Worshiping and serving God is the only way one can live a happy, fulfilled life.

Life may be full of trials, but there is no reason to give up and start blaming God and everyone else for disappointments. I have even heard people make the statement, “I am just so unlucky in life.”…even though there is no such thing as luck.

Speaking of disappointments…one of the most difficult things in life is that of loosing a child. There is nothing as dear and precious as a baby to capture one’s total attention and protective ability. The level of love for a baby is indescribable and so is the level of pain when a parent looses their baby.

As a minister for over a half a century, I am still unable to speak words of comfort to a broken hearted parent after the lost of their baby. Whatever I say just seems so trite. Such words seem to run down my chin because the level of pain a parent feels at the loss of their baby is indescribable. I only know how to hold the parents and weep with them.

Even though miscarrying a baby is not the same as actually loosing a baby…there is still an emptiness. One may not have had the opportunity to enjoy holding their baby and looking into its little eyes and listening to its sweet little coo’s, but there is still an emptiness.

A few days ago while talking to a friend from East Texas she related this story to me that I think is worth sharing. I had just ministered in her home church a few days before this experience actually happened.

She had gotten an email from a minister friend of hers from another state with a copy of this information with two tiny footprints.

Name: Stroda, Malachi James            Date: 5-26-15           Time: 1:10 PM
Weight 1.6 oz.         Length 5 3/4 inches           Head: 3 ½  inches  
Chest: 3 inches        Abdomen: 2 ½ inches

This note was attached… “Our sons tiny body…a little after 1 PM today. Things went supernaturally fast and well. We are grateful for our 20 week gift and now give him back to Jesus.”

Their closing statement was, “It is well with my soul.”

Only God can bring such peace and resolve in one’s life that would allow them to have such peace as this father and mother after the loss of baby James. Perhaps it is for folks like them that our text was written. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.”

Father,
It is impossible for us to face such tests in life without You. You have sent the Comforter to walk with us through each of the tests and trials we will face in life in order to teach us to praise You even when we do not understand. Father, it is not important for us to understand it is only important for us to keep our hands tightly in Yours.

Amen

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Coals of Fire

(Romans 12:20 KJV)  Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

The point of this scripture is to teach us to show kindness to others regardless of their treatment toward us. Some may actually interpret the “B” part of this verse as a way of getting revenge, but nothing could be further from the truth. In other words this scripture has nothing to do with our wounds. It has to do with our kindness.

The last part of this verse makes it clear that because of our kindness our enemy will come under conviction. Our text describes it as  “heaping coals of fire on their head.” In other words, by showing kindness toward our enemy his conscience will be stung with a sense of injuries that he has done to his benefactor and therefore he will be filled with conviction.

It is not always easy to do exactly what this scripture says because rarely do we forget those who have harmed us, even though we may have forgiven them. This is particularly true when they continue to hurt us. You might say that it is impossible without the help of the Lord, since all righteousness comes from Him.

I have had the opportunity to practice this scripture over the years and I must confess that there were times when my heart my was not always in it. However, it is important to be obedient to God regardless of our feelings. I suppose if we waited until we felt right we would probably never bless our enemy.

Many years ago as a young evangelist, I usually bought my gas at a local Texaco service station near my home. One of the men who worked there was a very mean spirited man even though his wife was a fine Christian lady and she went to the church I attended. This man did not like Christians at all and therefore every time I drove in to fill my car up with gas he would always say something mean and derogatory to me. This went on for several months even though I was kind and soft spoken to him.

After praying for this man for months and asking the Lord how I was supposed to break through his hard shell…the Lord finally gave me the answer. His answer was… as He had given up all to show His love for me…that if I really wanted to reach this man then I too must be willing to do the same thing in order to show the Lord’s love to him.

The only thing I had of real value to give up was some money I had been saving. Reaching this man for the Lord was very important to me so I gathered up all my money and drove down to the Texaco service station and called this man out to my car. He walked out and said, “What do you want?”

I handed him all my money and he said, “What is this for?” I replied by gently saying, “As I was praying for you I believe the Lord told me that you needed this money and He asked me to bring it to you because He really loves you.”

The man was speechless and the hard shell was forever broken because that day he met the Lord of love for the first time. His continence and mannerism would forever be changed as he came face to face with the Lord of love…the one that his wife had been serving all along and now the two of them would finally serve their Lord together.

Father,
We now know that servanthood is not based on the character of the one being served but on Your love. Help us to understand and practice the purest way of evangelism…by showing Your love.

Amen

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