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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Cost of True Love

(2 Samuel 24:24 ISV)  "No!" the king replied to Araunah. "I will buy them from you at full price. I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

The reason this scripture impacts my heart so much is because it teaches me that true love comes with a price. As a matter of fact it reminds me of the most costly act of love ever known to man which is found in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Even though King David spoke these words hundreds of years before Christ, I think he knew that one day God would give us the most costly gift of all. He would send His son to die on a cross to show His love to each of us.

Our text seems to say (or at least imply), that true love is never free but always comes with a price. I remember saying in a previous Meditation that I was not sure I really understood love…particularly the way it is interpreted today. Perhaps my dilemma is understanding what most people call love. I have always believed that true love costs something based on our text and the scripture found in John 15:13,  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” This seems to be the same type of love that is found in John 3:16.

Since the expression of love has always been of great interest to me, I have studied how different folks over the years have expressed their love. In each case the one showing their true love either went out of their way to serve another or they paid a financial price with no expectation of something in return. That must be what David meant in our text when he said, “I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

In the 1930s and 40s most folks were as poor as church mice and of course our family was no exception. Because no one really had any money, Christmas looked much different then, than it does today. As a matter of fact, the Christmas tree in most homes was either a small pine tree, a cedar tree or even a holly tree that had been cut down in the woods. There was no such thing as selling Christmas trees in those days.

Everyone’s decorations were pretty simple as well. The kids would make a paper chain glued together with homemade paste, popcorn strung on a string and maybe paper cutouts of angels. This may seem a little simple by today’s standards but we thought it was beautiful because everyone helped.

Because there was no money to buy presents, my Mother would spend the entire year making handmade presents for Christmas. To this day I am not sure where she found the time to do it because her days were long and busy taking care of her family. Perhaps she did it when everyone was asleep because I never remember seeing her sit down.

All I know is that on Christmas morning there would be a present for everyone wrapped in brown paper under our little Christmas tree. There would be things such as little dresses for the girls, a shirt for me and a rag doll for the baby and doilies for different friends who had helped us through the year.

These simple presents would be absolutely priceless today because my Mother painstakingly made each one of them with her tiny needle making hundreds of meticulously small stitches. Her sewing amazed everyone.

On Christmas morning no one really thought about Mother spending an entire year making presents for everyone…but then I suppose true love always finds time to express itself regardless of the cost.

Perhaps the real Christmas present that Mother gave to me was not my little shirt, but the value of knowing that no price is too great when it comes to giving true love.

Father,
Thank You for showing me through Your word and through my little Mother the cost of true love. I pray that I, like David, will never give the gift of love that costs me nothing.

Amen

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Monday, December 7, 2015

The Old Swimming Hole

(Proverbs 12:25 Message)  Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks
us up.

The reason I have taken our text from the Message is because it uses words that clearly describe what worry actually does to us. In other words, worry is like carrying a fifty pound weight around all day.

I realize there are many things in life that cause one to be concerned but there is a big difference between being concerned and worrying. Being concerned is a gift from God whereas worry is not.

For example:
·       Worry is problem oriented whereas concern is solution oriented.
·       Worry distracts us…concern focuses us
·       Worry disables planning…concern helps us plan.
·       Worry blurs our vision…concern clarifies our purpose.
·       Worry tends to give up…concern perseveres.
·       Worry exaggerates…concern pinpoints problems.
·       Worry focuses on self…concern cares for other.

If Satan can distract one by changing a concern into worrying then he has done his job.

Worry is also dangerous to one’s health because it triggers the release of stress hormones that over a prolonged period of time can raise the levels of these chemicals in one’s body to a dangerous level. As a result of these stress hormones being released it can,

   1. Weakens one’s immune system
   2. Cause cancer
   3. Heart Disease
   4. Hypertension
   5. Alzheimer’s disease and other brain cell damage
   6. Loss of concentration
   7. Weight gain

Because worry is a choice then one could conclude that God holds on responsible for choosing to worry rather then exercising their faith. Hebrews 11:6 says that, “without faith it is impossible to please God”. Perhaps one of the reasons is because worry can ultimately destroy one’s body which is the temple of the Holy Ghost. That means we can either choose to live in faith or fear.

I have always been inspired by the fact that kids never seem to worry…only adults. I remember years ago in the piney words of East Texas that every creek seemed to have a swimming hole.

When school was out for the summer and the kids were not working on the farm then they could usually be found down at the creek cooling off at the swimming hole. There was always an ample supply of little naked boys to fill each and every swimming hole in every creek

I can still hear all of those playful sounds of laughter through the piney woods as the kids would run and jump into the water, or swing from a rope or jump off of tree limbs.

Little did those kids know that one day they would  have to make the choice to either live by faith or be destroyed by worry. Wow! How is it possible to go from the cool refreshing waters of one’s own swimming hole to the grim reality of growing up?

However, for those who made the choice to live by faith and be optimistic then life has provided for them a spiritual swimming hole that is a lot more refreshing than the best of East Texas creeks. I know because God has done that for me.

Father,
Help those who have chosen the path of worry with no solution to change to the path of concern that produces solutions. Father we thank You for Your love and for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we all face these decisions.
Amen











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