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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, September 28, 2015

Clearing the Land

(Joshua 17:18 Message)  You also get the hill country. It's nothing but trees now, but you will clear the land and make it your own from one end to the other…

This scripture is a true picture of what all of our minds look like in the beginning. In other words our land (our mind), is capable of growing and producing most anything because God has made our minds to be fruitful.

Because one usually starts off in life without any self control or boundaries, Satan feels free to plant his seed in our field (our mind). That would of course suggest that digging those trees up later on in life is a requirement if we intend for our minds to be as productive as the Lord intends. This is certainly true when our life is dedicated to the purposes of God.

The trees that Satan has planted in our minds seem to be fast growing trees that have very deep roots. As a matter of fact our text says that our land is “nothing but trees.” That would seem to say that in the beginning our minds are not our own until we start clearing our land, or as the apostle Paul says, “the renewing of your mind.”

God not only intended for each of us to be successful, but he also intended for us to be dedicated to Him. I have come to the conclusion that clearing the land and keeping the trees (Satan’s growth) out of our mind is a lifelong effort.

There may be different things that can help clear the trees from one’s field, but the most powerful of all is a relationship with the Lord. Without that relationship Satan has the right to keep returning and planting new trees. The fact is, the only restrictions and boundaries there are to keep Satan from invading our land and planting those new trees is the Lord.

Case in point, when I was a young man growing up in East Texas we had a large wooded area (about fifteen acres) that needed to be cleared and made into a productive field. My job was to start chopping down trees and bushes with an ax. Even though I worked hard it was a slow process and I could see very little results. It seemed as though the bushes and trees grew back faster than I could cut them down.

I eventually went off to the military without having finished clearing the land. However, when I returned home after four years of military service the land had been cleared. A man with a bulldozer had been hired to come and clear the land. He was able to do in days what I was incapable of doing in months.

The point is, it is impossible for one to clear the trees out of one’s own land (mind) by themselves…they need the bulldozer of the Holy Spirit. It is only Him that can dig the deep roots out of one’s life and give them a fertile field that has the potential of being productive.

Over the years I have seen many well-meaning Christians who have struggled to keep themselves pure in mind before the Lord only to fail. The fact is, all of us will have our land (our minds) overgrown with the trees and bushes of this world apart from the help of the Lord.

Father,
Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to help clear our land (our mind) and maintain it for Your glory. We also thank You for giving us this scripture to remind us of our need for You, and the potential that You have placed in each one of us.

Amen

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Boarding House Reach

(Luke 6:38 KJV)  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I love this scripture because the first word “Give,” is what sets the rest of this scripture in motion. In other words, generosity on our part opens the flood gates of blessings to us from the Lord.

This seems simple enough except for the fact that most folks are born selfish and therefore are more interested is receiving than they are in giving.

Generosity on the other hand is a gift from God, which in turn makes it a natural enemy of selfishness. It seems that everything that God does is based on giving and everything that Satan does is based on stealing. That being the case, one could conclude that if a person is a non-giver it is because that part of their sin nature has not yet been surrendered to the Lord. This would of course keep the principle in our text from working on their behalf.

A few years ago I heard a young housewife teach on this scripture using a very simple demonstration. She came to the pulpit wearing an apron and holding a measuring cup in one hand and a bag of brown sugar in the other hand.

She filled her cup full of brown sugar and talked about things being full in man’s eyes, which are quite different than things being full in God’s eyes. She held the cup up so everyone could see that it was indeed full of brown sugar. She then informed us that according to our text, the cup was not full of brown sugar. She set the cup down and began pressing the brown sugar down in the cup with her fist until it was only about half full and then she filled up the empty space with more brown sugar. She repeated this process several times until the cup was packed completely full of brown sugar. She then held the cup high and said, “This is what the scripture is talking about when it says, pressed down, and shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom.” The place erupted with praise as they understood that full according to man is not full according to God.

When I left the service that night I thought to myself, this simple demonstration by this little housewife wearing an apron has given more meaning to the generosity of God than all of the great theologians put together.

I think it is interesting that our text also said that “…shall men give unto your bosom.” This point proves that generosity attracts generosity…or God in you is attracted by God in me.

I suppose one of the blessings of being older is that one’s memory bank is usually full of life lessons and interesting experiences. Back in the 1950s it was a common thing for older folks who had larger homes to open then up as a boarding house. That was quite nice because one could have a home atmosphere plus great meals.

Even though all of my experiences at the boarding house were great, the thing I remember most were the meals that were served. Eggs, biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, or hot oatmeal were a typical breakfast. Vegetables in season of assorted kinds, fried chicken, roast beef or pork chops and mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits and some kind of cobbler for desert were typical lunches. There never seemed to be an end to the food that kept coming from the kitchen.

This was obviously in the days before people were so health conscience, because everything we ate was fattening. Because most of the people who stayed or ate at boarding houses were men…manners were not a high priority. The men would reach all the way across the table for something rather than have it passed. Therefore the term “boardinghouse reach” came into existence. As I look back now it was quite amusing that it was an unspoken law that you had to keep one foot on the floor when you reached across the table for something.
                            
The point in sharing the two stories of the “brown sugar” and the “boardinghouse reach” was to make the point that if man can be that generous, then how much more can God be generous.

Father,
Thank You for teaching us that the law of generosity on our part releases the law of abundance on Your part. We are aware that as we sit at Your table there is a never ending supply of blessings “pressed down shaken together and running over.”

Amen

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Foundation Problem

(Luke 15:21-24 KJV)  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Because this is one of the most soul searching stories in the Bible most folks can identify with it in one way or another. Even though the two sons in this story are brothers, they are as different as Jacob and Esau or Isaac and Ishamel. It is easy to focus on the younger son because his rebellion seemed more obvious. He left home and spent his entire inheritance on things that would please his flesh.

However, there is another side of this story which involves the older son who also lived in a state of rebellion even though he never left home. In other words, the younger brother’s rebellion surfaced at the beginning of this story and the older son’s rebellion surfaced at the end of this story.

The younger son left his father’s home…but the older son left his father’s heart. After the younger son wasted all of his inheritance on wild living he came back home penniless, repenting and willing to serve his father. The older son never left home nor wasted his inheritance, but he was consumed with jealousy, unforgiveness and envy.

Because of his repentance the younger son would live a healthy fulfilled life even though he was broke. However, because of jealousy, unforgiveness and envy the older son was destined to live a physically unhealthy life even though he was rich.
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)

My sister-in-law owns some condominiums and over the years the sidewalks have become very uneven and dangerous. I did some research for her and found out how we could solve the problem without tearing the old sidewalks out and re-pouring new ones. I discovered a new procedure for leveling slabs and sidewalks that is a real breakthrough. The procedure is to drill an appropriate amount of small holes into the uneven slab and install valves. A high pressure hose is then attached to the valves and an extremely dense commercial foam product is pumped under the slab for the purpose of raising it to the desired level.

As I was watching a demonstration of this procedure I kept wondering what does this remind me of. I finely discovered that it reminded me of my own spiritual experience.

Back in the 1950s when I was a young man…my life was just as uneven as those sidewalks. One end of me was up and the other end was down. I am sure I caused people to stumble over my life just like the uneven sidewalk. I may have looked okay on the outside but my foundation was sinking and needed help.  Just as the contractor had to drill through that hard concrete slab in order to do the needed work beneath…so the Holy Spirit had to drill through my hard calloused attitude in order to bring some balance into my own life.

I shall never look at the sidewalks at the condominium again without praising the Lord for His mercy in doing the inner work in my life.

Perhaps the sidewalks in my story are a practical way of describing the result of the two young men in our text. One yielded to the drilling and repair and the other did not.

Father,
Thank You for showing us the difference between leaving the father’s home and leaving the father’s heart. Help us not to lose hope for a rebellious child who has left our home and protection. Help us to be the example to our children as the father was in our text.

Amen.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jesus Wine

(John 2:10 KJV)  And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

Our text is quick to establish the fact that there are two different grades of wine, “the good and the worse”. As a result one would conclude that knowing the grades of wine is important or the point would have never been made.

The purpose for serving the good wine first (the expensive wine), was to make those who are taste sensitive drink enough to dull their taste buds. As a result, they could be easily deceived into drinking the worse wine (the cheap wine), and never know the difference.

The thing that determines the good wine from the worse wine is the soil that the grape vines are grown in. I  have a friend who’s son-in-law is a connoisseur of wines and travels all over the world working with wineries and growers. As a matter of fact, there does not seem to be an end to his knowledge on the subject of vineyards, soil and wine.

Even though grapes can be grown in many types of soil there are ten top soils that grow the highest quality of grapes. If one plants good vines in bad soil then the result will obviously be a subpar grade of wine…called worse wine.

What is even more interesting is that Jesus came along and made a third grade of wine which had nothing to do with natural soil…but spiritual soil.

Could it be that this new type of wine (the Jesus wine) is a prophetic picture of
Matthew 9:17 where He talked about the need for new wine bottles to hold the new wine? “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17) 

Could our text also be a prophetic picture of the third day, which is the day of resurrection that the new wine and the new bottles will be established? If that is the case then this is certainly the season for us to make our wine bottles ready for the new wine (the third day revelation).

I was overcome by the Spirit as I sat and listened to my friend talk about what his son-in-law taught at wine conferences all over the world. As a result I came to the conclusion that the wine that Jesus made at Cana had nothing to do with making more wine for the wedding party to drink. Jesus was giving us a prophetic picture of the three seasons of mankind and the last day outpouring.

As for me, I shall never forget that day I went to the alter in our little wood-framed church and gave my heart to the Lord. It was then that the Lord served me this new wine that changed my life forever. Even at eighty years old the new wine is still in effect and I remain spiritually intoxicated and on fire for the Lord to this very day. I may have gone to the alter confused by drinking the worse wine but I left the alter in confidence drinking the Jesus wine.

Father,
Help us to see the deeper meaning in Your Word and partake of the third grade of wine (the Jesus wine). I can do nothing but sit in awe as I see the deep revelation and the promises in each verse in the Bible. We thirst for the miracle wine.

Amen

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