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A Little Walk With God

A daily devotional through the Bible narrated as if walking through the garden east of Eden with God. Scriptures come from a daily reading plan that take you through the Bible in one year, generally coming from The Voice. Our website is http://alittlewalkwithgod.com or http://richardagee.com
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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Nov 5, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

I ran across this question today in my devotions: If knowing God is the beginning of wisdom, can a person who does not know God be wise?

In today’s culture we would probably get an overwhelming number of responses to that question that answers in the affirmative. The argument would be to look at all the accomplishment we have made as a collection of all mankind’s minds. Certainly, the discoveries we have made, the inventive and creative mind of man, the impressive body of knowledge around us means that we are wise with or without God, right?

It is certainly convenient to think we are as smart as God and we wisdom, but I’m inclined to believe the Book that contains the wisdom of the Ages. Off and on, I have attempted to read one chapter of Proverbs a day each month continuously. I’ll have to admit, I’m not very good at it. There are 31 chapters, so it makes for a good goal to just pick up the book and read today’s chapter and see what it says.

I’m releasing this podcast on Monday, November 5th. That chapter in Proverbs gives warning from a father to his son concerning adultery. Nothing good comes from it. In fact, only bad things can come from adultery. There might be moments of pleasure, but in the end, those pleasures disappear and you are left with a disastrous marriage, ruined relationship both within and outside the family, a reputation that says you cannot be trusted since your spouse could not trust you.

If we would just live by the precepts the writers of Proverbs gave us more than 3,000 years ago, we could avoid so many of the problems we bring on ourselves. Those wise men give us lots of advice about the practical things of life. Loving God and pursuing him. Learning, studying, and obeying God’s laws. Family relationships. Parenting. Finances. Work ethics. The consequences of not following their advice in these areas of life.

And you know what? As I reach toward the back half of my sixth decade of life, I’m finding their advice and their knowledge of the consequences of not following their advice is absolutely true. I only wish I had followed everything they had to say. I didn’t. I don’t know very many people who have. We are pretty stubborn and selfish and most of us have a pretty healthy opinion of ourselves. We think we know the answers to life better than God. We don’t.

All we have to do is look around our world and see just how awful a job we do at following the wisdom of those writers. As humans, we fail in almost everything those authors told us. We mess up relationships because we are more interested in what we want than in caring for those we are supposed to love. We have messed up finances in every country because again we are selfish. The haves and the have nots plague our world. One percent of the world’s population owns well over 99% of its wealth. I don’t think God meant for us to live that way.

With that statement, I’m not suggesting we move to a socialist or communist society because governments have proven many times over that those countries do not fare very well. And, oh by the way, they have their one or two percent that own 95% or more of their countries wealth. Those governments never work because people are selfish and greedy by nature. Those with the wealth don’t want to give it up because if they give away some of their wealth, they won’t have it. Not that they need all of it, but they won’t have it and that’s the point. We are selfish and greedy with humongous egos.

We think we have knowledge. So did Thomas Jefferson’s generation. In the mid 1800’s the current philosophy was that there was nothing else to be learned. We knew it all. Except that today we double our knowledge base about every 12 months according to IBM and with the full build of the internet, knowledge is expected to increase every 12 hours before too many years pass. Just think of that, All the knowledge that ever was doubling every year in today’s communication systems. That blows my mind. But knowledge isn’t wisdom.

I know a lot of people with a lot of knowledge, but they can’t control their household. They are hopelessly in debt. They seem to destroy every relationship they have with their supposed knowledge. They are a total mess even though they know a lot of things. Knowledge is not wisdom.

You see, wisdom is how you use the knowledge you have. It has more to do with having peace in a chaotic world. It has to do with more than surviving or being what the world might deem as successful in life. It has to do with making from this life to the next and having an eternal reward instead of an eternal punishment. It has to do with living in community with others. Wisdom is recognizing we don’t know everything, but that’s okay. It means we recognize our limitations. We understand we need others and we especially need God.

Having wisdom is so much better than having property or money or any physical assets of any kind. With wisdom, you understand the importance of the intangibles of life. These are the things that last. The physical assets that so many run after can be taken away in a moment. Ask the people who lived through the hyperinflation years in places like Argentina when all the stores just dropped the last three zeroes in the price because 1000% inflation every few months meant a loaf of bread cost nearly thousands of pesos. Even today, now that inflation is under control, a meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will run AR 800$.

The same could happen here. Assets in stocks or property or in the bank or anything tangible can lose value overnight. Look at the housing bubble that caused property to climb unreasonably fast and fall just as fast. We watched one of the most powerful manufacturing cities in the country, Detroit, crumble and whole neighborhoods in foreclosure and houses selling for as little as $400-500. Seems unbelievable, doesn’t it? Just spend some time around Wall Street and you’ll see fortunes won and lost in hours. Nothing tangible survives.

The Pharaohs thought they could take their wealth into the afterlife with them. We know they didn’t as tomb after tomb gave up its golden treasures to grave robbers. Nothing went with those mummies that lay in those sarcophage. Everything placed in those tombs stayed there until someone took them. But their reputations survived through decades and centuries. Their histories still peak our interest. We still know something of some of their reigns. But all the things that survived them are intangible. What made the treasures of interest was the stories that go with them.

Wisdom provides the stories. Wisdom gives us the use of knowledge that brings good to others. Wisdom advances relationships and brings peace to chaotic situations. Wisdom springs from the heart of God. Wisdom knows when justice or mercy or grace is the proper response to those who wrong us. Wisdom befriends the broken, but doesn’t condone the actions that caused their brokenness. Wisdom listens like, talks like, acts like, lives like, worships like, strives to be like Christ. Knowing him is the beginning of wisdom. Without him, we are fooling ourselves thinking we are able to adequately apply any amount of knowledge in a worthy manner.

So to be wise, know him so you will know more.    

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Oct 29, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.

Expect obstacles when you begin to change things around you. We’ve mentioned change is hard. We’ve talked about the importance of change, though. We are constantly changing, sometimes for good and sometimes for not so good. When we can help direct some of the change we experience, we can influence which way it will go, though.

We talked last week about that phrase that sometimes paralyzes us, but we’ve always done it this way. That’s one of those roadblocks we have to get past to effect change. Whenever you want to change something, especially if you are making monumental shifts in direction or thought or action in organizations or even in yourself, you will come up against some fairly large obstacles along the way.

Just getting the momentum to start is a big one. Inertia is one of those terms we think about in physics. It takes a lot more energy to get something moving than it does to keep it moving. That’s true of change in organizations, too. It’s hard to get things moving. You have to “sell” enough people on the idea and get enough enthusiasm behind the journey forward to get it going. It’s easy to let things move along as they’ve always gone, because it’s comfortable. It’s something we already know and people are reluctant to learn new things. Not everyone wants to be a full-time student and change requires us to be a student again.

Change sometimes seems overwhelming and when you look at the mountain of things that need to be done it can stop us cold. But how do you move a mountain? One shovel full of dirt at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The mountain can be moved the elephant can be eaten. It might not happen in a day or a week or a month. But change can happen and we can get to the goals we set if we stay on track and remember why we are making the changes we are making.

Funds can get in the way sometimes. Where are we going to get the funds to do what we think we need to do? Money is always an issue in every church I’ve attended. I’ve never had the experience Moses had when he told the people to stop giving because they had too much. Most every church could. If everyone in every church actually gave as God directs, churches probably wouldn’t have money issues, but most people don’t give as God asks of them. If most people’s tithes and offerings actual reflect their income, then most churches are filled with people who are living like the very poorest in the Comoros Islands and Ethiopia, the poorest countries in the world.

Today’s culture asks, “What’s in it for me?”, before they give up funds. We are a selfish society. We are so often selfish individuals. I asked the question last week, “Am I willing to sacrifice for the lost?” That includes the resources God has given me. Am I willing to give up a larger portion than I have in the past to see that the work God has placed on me and my church is carried out. God’s math is really strange. I’ve always found that when I give him a tithe, one tenth of my income, he can help me do more with the remaining nine tenths than I could do with all of it. I’ve never fed five thousand men with two small loaves of bread and a handful of fish, but I’ve never been hungry either. God comes through when we are faithful to him. Funds somehow appear out of nowhere.

Change takes time. When you plant an apple seed in the ground, you won’t get apples next week. In fact, you won’t get apples next year. It can take 10 to 12 years for that seed to sprout, grow to a mature tree, and produce its first apples. Change takes time. There’s not much worth while that happens quickly. We live in an instant gratification culture, but if you think about it, you’ll find that most of that instant gratification just doesn’t last. It’s just a splash of pleasure and then it’s gone.

Change also requires grief. It’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept that doing something that will improve things includes grief, but getting that new thing means you give up something you already have. Whether it’s the familiar music or the order of service you’ve used for the last decade or your favorite parking spot or whatever it might be. When we give something up, the grief cycle is involved. Certainly, losing a parking space isn’t the same as losing a friend or loved one, but the cycle is the same. And we go through it. When there are major changes in an organization, there may be many routine things that change in a relatively short period of time. It might mean we lose several things at once. The loss of several things at once can overload our emotions as we go through that grieving process. It is especially true for those who have just experienced other stressful or grief producing events in their lives. Those leading the change must be sensitive to those facing the change and help keep everyone focused on the prize at the end.

Remember the mission? Seek and save the lost. We must keep our focus. We must continue to keep first things first. We must remember what we have that the unbeliever does not have. We have forgiveness. We have grace. We have Jesus’ legacy of peace. We have his spirit in us. We have his continuous presence. We have hope. We have eternal life. We could keep going with the list of things we have that the unbeliever does not have, but now lest stop and begin the list of what the unbeliever has. I think when I get past separation from God I hear crickets.

Are we willing to sacrifice and get through the obstacles that come our way to keep focused on the mission Jesus gave us? Are we willing to grab a shovel and attack the mountain? It may not be easy, but we are not alone. It may take time, but every day that goes by more of those unbelievers are leaving this world for an eternity without God. Every day that sneaks past us is another opportunity to lift up Christ to a world that needs to hear the message of hope and mercy and grace that he told us to share with those outside the church walls.

If your son or daughter were in a house engulfed in flames, what would you be willing to do to get them out and save their lives? There are those right next door that are on their way to a destiny Jesus described as worse than the garbage heap outside Jerusalem that was always burning. The fire never went out. The flames never ceased. The stench of the burning garbage was terrible. The hell Jesus described as worse than that burning garbage he said was the place for all those unbelievers around us. They are God’s creation just as you and I are God’s creation. We were them until God’s mercy reached us. That was us until we experienced his grace. Except for our saying yes to Jesus’ call, we are just like those blind, lost, unbelievers all around us.

Do we care enough to break through whatever obstacles Satan might put in our path to keep us from doing the mission God gave us to do? We talked about that simple mission. The church is the body of Christ. His mission and so our mission is to seek and save the lost. He didn’t let anything get in his way. Can we do any less? Can we allow tradition or routine or comfort or anything stop us from carrying the message to the lost? The message never changes, the method does. Jesus is the way. Our job is to point other to him. We can’t do that from the comfortable seats inside our churches. We must go...and make disciples. We must go...and baptize them. We must go...and teach them his ways. We must go...if we think we are to seek the lost.

That is a change the church and its people must make since the lost will not come to us. How about it? Are you ready for the change? It’s about time for a real revival. It must happen first as a change in me and you and our churches. Let’s do it.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Oct 22, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com

Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.

We’re still talking about change, and this one phrase can disrupt your ability to change more than any other. Here it is: But we’ve always done it that way. It can deal a death blow to any efforts you may undertake for change.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say that phrase more than once in your life. In fact, you might be guilty of using it a time or two yourself. But what does that phrase really do for you except keep you stuck in the past?

My church just went through a mission and strategy review. Every business and church and really every individual should do that every once in a while. It’s healthy to figure out where you want to go in the next few months or years. What you want to look like by a certain time or what you want to accomplish in a certain span. We all need to examine entities at different levels to make sure our resources are used wisely.

Some in your church and mine will jump up and vigorously fight the process and tell you that God will lead whatever he wants done and we don’t need to make such long term plans. We don’t need to try anything different. We don’t need to waste time and energy thinking about what we should do next month or next year because God will just take us where he wants us to go.

I would argue that God inspired the book of Solomon which instructs us to plan and prepare throughout the book. Jesus talk about the wise builder and the wise king. They planned ahead to avoid disastrous results. God gives us a brain to use, not just to sit in that protective shell of bone and such up nutrients. He expects us to use resources wisely and to do that we need to plan and prepare for the days ahead.

So looking at our mission and vision and strategies to do those things is important. So where am I going with all of this. Well, with every vision for every church or business or person, I would hope it encompasses something larger and grander than the present state of things. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? If our church has 200 in attendance today, we would like to be reaching another 200 unchurched in a few years, right? We’d like to know that we are making a difference in the community and helping win others to Jesus, right?

But there is a problem. What if over the last ten years we have only grown by two or three people a year? To reach another 200 would take us a hundred years. That seems a little unreasonable, doesn’t it? But that’s the result of doing what we’ve always done. That’s the pattern of the church for the last decade so it will not change unless we do something different. And almost every church across the nation has that same problem, not just my church. That’s why half of the United States citizenry doesn’t claim to adhere to any religious organization. Not just Christian, but any religious organization. We Americans bow to the god of self.

So understand some of those dynamics, there are a few questions a congregation and each member of that congregation must answer truthfully before we can embrace a renewed sense of mission. Just for the sake of argument, we will use a universal mission for all churches that I think all of us can hopefully agree on. Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. That’s a very clearly stated, simply worded mission. I think every church could agree, as his followers, our mission, then, is to seek and help save the lost. Before you blast me with the truth that we can’t save anyone. I agree, but as we share the gospel, the Holy Spirit can. The church, you and me, are instruments of God’s saving power. We bring people to him, share the gospel, so he can do his work in them. We are instruments of salvation. We don’t do it, but we help. So for arguments sake, let’s accept that short mission statement for just a moment. We seek and help save the lost.

Here’s the first question. Do you believe God’s word? That might sound like a silly question, but it’s not. The Bible is the foundation for that mission statement. It says Jesus is the only means for our salvation, the only path to heaven. It says there is a heaven and hell. It says every person will end up in eternity in one of those two places based on their acceptance of sacrifice for sin. Those statements are clear. If you believe God’s word to be true, Islam, Buddhism, whatever other path you might take doesn’t get you there. The only path to heaven is through Jesus. So do you really believe God’s word?

The next question is this, do you care about the lost? All hands go up in the air and some wave vigorously. Sure I do. What kind of question is that? Look hard at your church and yourself. Do you really care about the lost? When is the last time you shared what God is doing in your life with an unbeliever? When is the last time you invited an unbeliever to your church? When is the last time you invited an unbeliever to your house? Now chase the money. What percentage of your church budget goes toward reaching unbelievers instead of taking care of the congregation? 50%, 25%, 10%? Did you know the average church spends less than 5% on activities to reach the unchurched? Do we really care about the lost? Should we wonder why the unchurched think we are hypocrites? Ouch.

The next question. Am I willing to sacrifice to win the lost? Jesus said take up our cross and follow him. But what crosses am I talking about? What sacrifices do we have to make to win the lost? Here are some things with which my church leadership and my congregation must struggle over the next months if we are to meet the goals our vision put before us. Remember that phrase we used at the beginning? But we’ve always done it this way.

Well, many of the unchurched in today’s society, even in the Bible belt, have never been inside a church. Hard to believe for those of us who grew up in a church and go there several times a week, but it’s true. We often forget that’s true, but it is. And my church, like many others, maybe yours, doesn’t think about guests. Sure we greet them with a smile and hand them a bulletin, which they call a program, by the way. See, they go to the theater or ball games or other events and get programs, so a bulletin doesn’t mean anything to them. Then they have to ask the embarrassing question of where things are because even though I know the men’s room is just around the corner, there is no sign when you come in that tells you where to take your little boy who has an urgent need after the drive to get here.  

Then as the service is about to begin, “Ms. That’s My Seat and You Can Have It” makes visiting family climb over her and her purse and her bag with her giant print Bible, Sunday School literature and gift for her friend to get to the empty seats beside her. The people on either side of family have shades of a smile as they sing “Victory in Jesus”, but give the new family an icy glare when they don’t immediately jump to their feet when the music starts. The last Amen is said and the family exits as soon as they can get past “Ms. That’s My Seat”. No one talks to them. Everyone is already in their own little clumps deciding where they are going for lunch. So will those first time unchurched visitors be back? Would you come back? Do we care about the unchurched or the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice for them?

Maybe we could give up our favorite seat. Maybe we could act like they are visitors to our home and welcome them. Maybe we could show them around and make sure they know where everything is so they don’t have to hunt for things. Maybe we could give them some hints about what is about to happen so they’re not embarrassed as the last people to get it when something changes in the service. Maybe we could at least act like we’re really glad they are with us. Maybe we could make the atmosphere of the church more pleasing and comfortable for guests instead of for us. Maybe we should think like Paul, as he said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Am I willing to sacrifice the music I most enjoy to reach the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice the décor I’ve always thought was most sacred to win the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice chatting with my friends for those few minutes after the service to win the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice my church language and change bulletins to programs, platforms to stages, foyers to lobbies, and all those words that separate us from unbelievers to help win the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice my routine, my comfort, my time and energy to win the lost?

If the mission is to seek and save the lost, then I have to be willing to do those things. That’s what we are called to do. Jesus said, “Go make disciples.” To do that, I must first be changed by the power of his blood. Then I must change. I cannot do things the way they have always been done and expect the outcome to be different. If I am to meet the call of the Master, I must be willing to sacrifice for him and his kingdom.

Are you ready to throw away the phrase, but we’ve always done it that way. The past is not bad. We can learn from the past and we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water as they say. But also, if we are really want to reach the unchurched, the lost, they will not come to us, we must go to them. And when they walk in our doors, we must be inviting enough for them to stay. Take a look at the place where you worship. I gave you a glimpse of the atmosphere of 95% of all the churches in America. If that glimpse were not true, all of our churches would be overflowing every service. Except for that very small percentage, they are not. Chairs are empty. Parking lots have plenty of space. We do not weep over the millions in our land headed toward an eternity separated from the one who can save them from that destiny.

Are you ready to change? Now is the time.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Oct 15, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Change requires breaking the bonds of familiarity. We often fail to change because we become familiar with our present state and that familiarity holds us in bondage.

It took over seventy years for the citizens of the former Soviet Union to overturn the tyrannical communist government and win their freedom. Why did it take so long? One reason was certainly fear. In the early years of the state, disagreement with Stalin and his hand-selected group of leaders meant death for the dissenter and his family. Consequently, few dared to revolt against the oppressive rule of their communist leaders.

What was supposed to be a utopia of standard living conditions for all citizens because every citizen worked their best for the good of everyone else in the state ended with the widening gap of the haves and have nots. Most of the country felt the abject poverty that results from the majority of the populace doing just enough to get by. Why work hard when all your labor profited someone else and your family still suffered?

Such is the result of communist and socialist rule because people are sinful and selfish. For the most part, we care about ourselves and our families. The world would be a pretty good place if we lived by the two commandments Jesus said encompassed the rest of God’s laws. What were they? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Well...we prove everyday that we are not very good at the first with more than half our formerly “Christian” nation not claiming any adherence to any formal religion. And the news shows we certainly don’t love our neighbor when we see the mass shootings, violent crime, more interest in our cell phone than in looking someone in the eye to discover who they are, what they felel, and how we might help them.

We are extremely selfish. It’s what started the whole problem with our separation from God in the first place. Adam and Eve wanted to be as smart as their creator. They ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and knew the difference between good and evil. They understood disobedience. Was there something special about that fruit? I’m not sure that tree was much different than any of the other fruit trees in the garden. But it was forbidden. They were not to climb over the fence and eat its fruit.

Cows are not supposed to stick their heads through the fence to eat grass from the other side, but they do. Kids are not supposed to stick their hands in the forbidden cookie jar, but they do. Teenage boys are not supposed to peak at the smut magazines that used to be hidden from view on the top shelves of the racks, but they do. Toddlers are not supposed to take toys away from their playmates, but they do. Kids are not supposed to bully other kids at school that might be a little different from them, but they do.

Do you get the point? We are evil. We think evil thoughts. We do evil deeds. We act out. We don’t do what we are supposed to do. We do what we are not supposed to do. We are selfish and we get stuck in that mode because we are comfortable in that attitude. We know it is wrong, but we do it anyway because its our familiar way of life from birth. We are in bondage to self satisfaction.

So how do we get out of this rut? How do we break away from the familiar, even if it might be good, so that we can have an even better life? The Soviets struggled under their oppressive life for more than 70 years. The Israelites lived in exile for 70 years before they could return to their capital city of Jerusalem. We stick with old habits for decades knowing they are bad for us. We just don’t or can’t break away from the familiar.

It’s like a test sociologists did several years ago in which they placed a man dressed as if a homeless drunk midway between the street corner and the entrance to a facility focused on helping people with resume preparation, job hunting, skill enhancement, and so forth. Each day, they moved the man closer to the door of the building.

At first, the workers turned toward the man and noticed he was there, but most just walked by with saying or doing anything. No one asked if he needed help. A few put a few coins in his cap or cup, but that was about the extent of their aid. Remember these are people in the business of helping people! The interesting point of their experiment, though, is that as they moved the man closer to the entrance, they finally got to the point the employees had to step over the man to gain entrance. Still, however, no one in the building whose job centered on helping people just like this guy offered to lend a hand, take him into their offices, and give them exactly the help they gave their paying customers on a daily basis. They just let him obstruct their path without further notice.

That’s why companies spend money on consultants. It’s not that the staff isn’t smart enough to solve their own problems. It’s mainly because after a few months or years, we can’t see the problem anymore. We just step over the homeless guy in the doorway or around the gaping hole in the floor or ignore the broken shelf. We are so familiar with those things we just don’t see them anymore. The high priced consultant brings new eyes into the building and sees those things that you smack your forehead after the fact with a resounding, “Duh! Why didn’t I see that?”

We do. It’s just becomes so familiar we don’t think to change it because we’ve grown so accustomed to the circumstance or situation.

We can get that way in our homes, in our jobs, and in our spiritual lives. We can get familiar and complacent. We can forget when God allows us to come into his presence in prayer that we are conversing with the maker of the universe. We forget the awe he should inspire in us because we sometimes get a little too familiar. We forget the sacrifice he made so that we can speak with him. We forget he is will to forgive our sins and provide his awesome, overwhelming, stunning grace to us.

God does invite us to speak with him. Paul did tell us when we are his followers we become God’s children and coheirs this Jesus. We are adopted into his family when we repent and he forgives us our sins. But it is dangerous territory when we get so familiar with him that we begin to step over those far from him that he puts in our path to share his good news. We need to have his eyes as we travel through life. We need to open our ears to hear the cry of those around us. We need to be ready to not just give our testimony, but to be like Jesus. He always had time for the down and out, the hurting outcasts of society. He saw people as his Father saw them and ministered to them as his Father directed.

To be like Jesus, we must change. God will work on us every day to make us more like him... if we let him. And there it is. The big if. So the million dollar question for each of us today, “Will I let God into my heart, soul, mind, and strength as I love him with everything I am, so that he can work his plans for this world through me. Am I willing to let him change me and use me in any way he sees fit to further his kingdom in the place I stand right now?

That what he asks of us every moment of every day. If you ask him to let you be his instrument to reach others with his good news, it’s a pray he will always answer … sometimes in pretty amazing and unusual ways. Get ready for an exciting ride when you earnestly pray that prayer. How about it? Are you ready to get away from the routine and start a new adventure?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Oct 8, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Pastor Rob Ketterling wrote this about change, “Encountering truth always results in a need to change.” What do you think?

We are usually very happy to go along in the same path we have always traveled because it is easier than changing. Change is hard. Change is challenging the norm. Change means displacing habits and that is never easy. Change, as Ketterling implies, means facing the truth and doing something about it.

God is truth. He is never duplicitous. He always works in our best interest. But he also works to fulfill his plans, not ours. He will use us to further his plans and make us into what he created us to be, but he will never sacrifice his goals for ours because he is God and we are not. He knows and is truth. We are scarred and damaged and considerably limited in our understanding of almost everything.

Just look around. Think back through a little bit of history. It’s easy to see just how arrogant and wrong we are about things. Look how many millenia it took for people to understand that the universe does not revolve around us. In our arrogance we thought we were the center of the universe. But we are just a speck in our solar system and our sun, the real center of our solar system is just a speck on the outer edge of the enormous galaxy we call the Milky Way. And that immense galaxy we call home is fairly small in comparison to the billions of galaxies that comprise the universe we think we know.

In reality, we know so little about the universe in which we live. In fact, we can’t say we even know our home planet very well. We haven’t made it to the deepest parts of our oceans yet. We try to explore it, but have only begun to see into those dark regions below the surface of the seas. Only a very small number of people have made it to the tops of our highest mountains. And when they reach those summits, they don’t stay there to explore or make any scientific studies of those places. They can only live there for a few minutes before they have to make the climb back down or they will die on those peaks.

We make great strides in figuring out how to heal the body, yet medicine is still not a strict discipline. It is a practice and an art. Why? Because every person is different. No one react exactly the same to every drug or treatment regimen doctors prescribe. We each contain minute differences in our anatomy. And some of us have fairly significant difference, like someone with situs inversus, in which every organ on the opposite side of the body. On the outside they look like everyone else, but on the inside, every visceral organ is a mirror image of most people. Were they built wrong? No, just different. They are often very healthy and often never know they are different on the inside until they need an x-ray or have some sort of surgery in which the surgeon is surprised by cutting on what should in the correct place but finds what he’s looking for missing in that spot.

Truth. Do examples like those mean there are different shades of truth? No. It means we, as frail and faulty humans, have a hard time getting to the truth. Our brains are not capable of understanding all there is to know. No matter how intelligent one might be, he or she can never know it all. And our understanding of so many things is limited to what we have learned in the past and how we approach things to understand them in the present. What do we really know about cancer? Quite a lot more than we did twenty years ago, but not enough to contain it.

So what do we do when we face something that changes our perspective of truth? How do we face information that runs contrary to what we thought we knew was right? It’s a question we must face almost every day because if we are alive, we are gathering information from around us through those five senses God built into us. And those five senses give us information that sometimes contradicts what we thought we knew about the world around us.

We thought the world was flat...until Columbus proved us wrong. We thought we could never fly...until the Wright brothers took that contraption into the air the length of a football field. We thought smallpox would always be a deadly disease among our children...until vaccines have effectively eradicated it from the world. We thought going to the moon was just the fantasy of science fiction writers...until Neil Armstrong made a footprint on its dusty surface.

With each of those truths, the world had to do something with the discoveries. We could not ignore the truth. Ships don’t fall off the edge of the earth because it’s not flat, it’s round. We not only can fly, but made it a multi-billion dollar industry. We took that one disease and created other vaccines that have almost wiped out other diseases that took our children from us. We use some of those space inventions every day that came out of those moon explorations. And if you have a really good telescope, you can see the glint of sunlight on the equipment those moon-walkers left up there on the moon.

Those truths deal with science and discoveries hard to dispute when you can see the evidence. But what about the things of God? What about the truth God reveals when he speaks to us about our relationship with him? What do we do with the truth someone shares with us about our eternal soul? How do we deal with the truth that may not be visible to the naked eye?

It’s a simple answer. Pastor Ketterling has it right. When we face truth, we must change. We can change for the better or we can change for the worse, but we will change. We cannot let it go. God wants an intimate relationship with us. He gave everything to give us that opportunity. He reveals himself to us and makes a way for us to come to him. But God does not change. We must. God is truth. Real truth does not change. A flat earth is not truth, it is only a perception. The inability to better ourselves through invention is not truth, it is only a perception. Our inability to eradicate some deadly disease is not truth, it is only a perception.

We may not understand the how and why of these things now, but they are still perceptions because we do not understand the majesty and power of God. God did not introduce those things into the world. Adam and Eve invited evil and sin and chaos into the cosmos when they disobeyed God. Satan’s deceit crept into the universe because of their disobedience. They no longer knew truth. They sought it, just like we do, but they no longer knew it. Just like us. We see shades of truth, perception, but only in God can we see truth. Because only he is truth. Everything else is at best a shadow of truth.

When we see things that are closer to the truth than we what know, our perception must change. Our belief must change. Our attitude and behavior and understanding must change. We become more aware of what is real and what is fantasy. Satan would love for us to live in this fantasy world around us, but his methods for seeking happiness or pleasure or success or peace or harmony among men only leads to more suffering and sorrow and chaos. We know that because we see the truth of it every day in our news reports.

God, however, brings peace to our hearts. He brings order to the chaos around us. He brings calm to the storms of life. He brings harmony into relationships. God, as the author of truth, the personification of truth, the epitome of truth, will stand in judgment of us one day and ask the question, “What did you do when confronted with my truth?”

Our answer will determine our eternal destiny. We will change when he gently calls us to him in this life. When we follow him, he will help us change into his likeness. When we run from him, we will face the consequences he outlines in his word. I’d like to say there is no hell, but that is not truth. His word tells us there is and he is truth. So now what? How will you change when he confronts you?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Oct 1, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

It has been said the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But often we act like it’s true. We think we can get away with doing what we want to do and not reap the same consequences we have experienced in the past or we have seen someone else reap because of the same actions. We mistakenly believe we can get away with doing what we want without repercussions. But unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. God built into the nature of things the cause and effect consequences that accompany behaviors just as they accompany the theorems that are the mechanical underpinnings of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sounds familiar, right? The same thing kind of follows through in the consequences we feel because of our behavior, whether good or bad.

There is another saying that seems to hold true, also. It says that the best predictor of the future is the past. We humans have a tendency to do what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before. We are creatures of habit. We do what we learned and what we are used to doing. Our behaviors take a lot of energy and concentration to change. For instance, my wife gets on to me in restaurants and other social situations because I’m always tapping the table, turning my glass, moving the salt shaker around, twisting my fork, or something. I’m constantly moving my hands.

I’m a professed fidgety person. It seems that I just can’t hold still. I’m sixty-four years old and I’ve done this as long as I can remember. My parents told me to quit fidgeting. My teachers told me to quit fidgeting. My wife tells me to quit fidgeting. My kids tell me to quit fidgeting. Everyone tells me to hold still. I can’t. Whether it’s learned behavior, some mental or medical condition, or just bad habit, I can’t seem to stop. I have to be moving something all the time. It’s not big thing, but it’s distracting to others sometimes. So that innocent habit takes away the focus I might be wanting from those I’m talking with around me. As a consequence of my movements, they may miss an important point I or one of the other speakers in our group might be making. It’s not a good thing, but it’s a natural consequence of my behavior.

Is it big deal? Usually not. But sometimes a point is missed. Focus goes the wrong direction. Attention veers off the speaker for a moment and those accompanying me miss an opportunity to hear or see something because I’ve distracted them from what is certainly more important that watching me fidget with a water glass. But guess what, I would predict that if you sit down at a table with me this evening or tomorrow or next week, between the time our drinks come to the table and our food is served or as soon as I finish my meal, you’ll get to see me playing with something on the table. It won’t be long before I’m moving a glass around or playing with some utensil or flipping packets of sugar around or doing some other mundane action with my hands. I just can’t keep still. As hard as I try, I just can’t seem to do it.

But the same too often holds true in our spiritual life, too. If you didn’t go to church last month, it is likely you won’t go next month. Not because you’re necessarily a bad person, but because we are creatures of habit. The past is the best predictor of the future. We do what we’ve done and expect different results. But the world doesn’t work that way. We usually do what we’ve always done.

If you didn’t do any devotions at home this week, I would predict you won’t do any devotions at home next week. Why? Because we are creatures of habit and usually do what we’ve always done. Change is hard. Changing spiritual things when the world does its best to keep us from God is extremely hard. Remember Jesus said the world would hate us because of him. The world will deceive and put obstacles in our path. The world will try its best to kill our spirit and shape us into its mold instead of God’s.

We talked about how hard habits are to break last week. Change is hard, but sometimes necessary. Change takes commitment and perseverance. Two words that have somehow disappeared from our vocabulary in the last decade or so. We won’t commit to anything and when things get hard, we just quit. Something changed in us to make us rather lazy as a society. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to spend the time and effort be excellent at anything. We don’t reach out for new opportunities or new experiences. We don’t recognize the importance of life and the worth of the human soul. We have changed as a society in the last couple of decades. We have lost God.

Now we need to change. We can’t do it with just words. We can’t change easily. We can’t expect things to get better by sitting around doing the same things and hoping something different will happen. It won’t. We must change our habits. Our behaviors. The way we think. Paul admonishes us to “let our mind be transformed”. That’s where it all begins. We must work hard to think differently. Change the way we think. Dismiss the evil thoughts that the world puts there. Change the pattern of thought and as the Psalmist tells us so often, “meditate on God’s word day and night”.

David meditated on the word of God available to him at the time. Did you ever stop to think about what he really had? The Old Testament came to be what it is today after the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem after their exile. Around 400 BC. David wrote many of the Psalms we have today. He had the Torah, the first five books of our Old Testament. He might have had the stories from the book of Judges. He knew the story of his heritage from Naomi and Ruth and Boaz and his father, Jesse. He didn’t have much else, yet through scripture David was noted as a man after God’s own heart.

Why? His habit was to meditate on God’s word. Did he always please God? Absolutely not. Bathsheba. Uriah. Murder. Adultery. Deceit. Treachery. Bigamy. Favoritism among his children. He failed many times. But he always came back repentantly to God and asked forgiveness. He changed his heart and his actions. He changed his thinking. He meditated on God’s word instead of the things the world popped into his brain. He changed his focus to try to see the world from God’s eyes instead of his human eyes.

To become like Jesus, we must change. He can help us if we let him. But we cannot do the same things we always do and expect to be like him. He will continue to shape us and mold us throughout our life when we honestly and fervently seek him and desire to be like him. He is the change maker. He created us in the first place. He knows how to fix our broken parts. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it to help us make it through this journey toward heaven.

How can we change what our future looks like? We need to recognize what we’ve done in the past and remember that the only way to change the future is to do something different. When we do the same things, expect things to be just like they were. When we think the same way, we will act the same way. If you want a different future than than your past or current state, look to Jesus and let him transform you. Only by breaking through with him and living life in a different, Jesus filled manner can you hope to have a different future.

Expecting a different outcome from the same actions is insanity. Let Jesus help you change your future by directing your thinking and your actions. Let him in today as the change agent for your life.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Sep 24, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

No one ever said change was easy. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do, but sometimes that change is the most necessary thing in your life.

Sometimes it’s really hard for me to believe the number of cigarettes sold in the United States today. Are you ready for this? One study says about 10 million cigarettes are sold every minute. Think about that. The population of New York City is less than 9 million. It’s like everyone in New York City, infants through centenarians, buying a package of cigarettes every nine minutes, 24 hours a day.

Why does that surprise me so much? Because the last television ad for cigarettes was aired on December 31, 1970 during the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I was sixteen. I’m now sixty-four. It has been almost 50 years since a cigarette commercial went across the airwaves, yet we still sell them at the rate of 10 million a minute in this country alone. Proven to cause cancer. Proven to harm unborn children. Even secondary smoke has been proven to be a health hazard, particularly for the young and the elderly. So why do we see so many people with a cigarette in the hand and sucking their life away?

Why? The same reason illegal drugs are a problem in this country. The same reason alcohol is a problem in this country. The same reason prescription  drug about is a problem in this country. Someone tells a teenager they can get a buzz or escape reality for a few minutes if they try this pill or that cigarette. Doing something just a little illegal makes them cool. Skating on the edge shows how tough they are. All those little things to make them different, except now they are the same as all the others trapped in a vice they can’t escape.

So in 2015, the stats tell us we had more than 88 thousand alcohol related accidental deaths. We also had more than 66 thousand drug abuse deaths and 33 thousand alcohol induced deaths above and beyond those 88 thousand traffic accidents and boating accidents. The alcohol and drug induced deaths were things like cirrhosis of the liver or pancreas, alcohol poisoning, overdose, and so forth. The average age of those victims was about thirty so those that do these statistics estimate that more than 2 ½ million years of life were snuffed out because of abusing drugs and alcohol in this country.

We know all that stuff is bad. We know the dangers of using tobacco products and abusing both legal and illegal drugs. We know the dangers alcohol abuse causes. We know all those things. So why do we have such a huge problem in this country? Are we all just stupid to be buying 10 million cigarettes a minute and wasting 2 ½ million years of life from those we kill every year for no reason except we fail to change?

These are sobering numbers from statistics three years old. I wish I could tell you the numbers have gotten better over the last three years, but they haven’t. They’ve gotten worse. Drive down the street wherever you live. Pay attention to the teenagers and young adults you see on the street and driving around in some fairly expensive cars. How many do you see that are smoking? How many have eyes that just don’t seem to focus well? How many are in places that you know trouble is bound to happen if they just hang around? And where did they learn all these neat tricks?

From us. We indulge ourselves in the current generations. The Silent Generation, Baby boomers, Me Generation, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Z, Post-millennials, iGen, Centennials, Plurals, pick from whatever list or title you like. We are guilty of thinking of me first. We don’t want to change our ways. We don’t want to do the hard things that will fix us. Kicking those habits is hard, so we don’t. Teaching our kids to do the right thing regardless what their friends say or do is hard, so we don’t teach them. Consistent discipline and living those morals we want our children to have is hard, so we compromise. Being the model, the example of godliness in our homes and at work and in the grocery store is hard these days, so we fudge a little here and there.

Then we wonder why our kids think we are hypocrites. We wonder why our kids have abandoned the church and God. We wonder why they take up habits and try to be different only to look and act like the rest of the growing different look alike crowd. They take the easy way because they see us take the easy way. Change is hard. But change is worth the effort. Change is important. Change is necessary sometimes. Change to get out of the trap of today’s culture requires strength we do not have. It requires strength we can only get when armored with God’s help. Change means being different in this world. It means being a true non-conformist, because the world wants you to conform to its moral values, its selfish ways, its downhill slope to eternal damnation.

God never said following him would be easy. Those that tell you being a Christian is all rose petals, blue skies, and fluffy clouds have never been a Christian and don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Being a Christian is hard in this world. Satan works his best to destroy followers of Christ. The world hates Jesus’ followers just as he said they would. Everywhere you turn you will find those who hate you and everything you stand for just because you declare Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life. Walking the Christian life take all the effort you can muster every day from the time you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes at night. Jesus said it would be that way. He promised pain and suffering. He promised that to those who followed him.

But he also promised his legacy of peace. An inner peace that is inexplicable until you experience it. He promised an eternity with him when he returns to take us to his home in heaven. He promised us his presence with us and in us in the form of his spirit alive and well. Enabling us to live the life he wants us to live. Hard. Yes. Worth it. Absolutely. Not much in this life worth having comes to us without hard work. Changing our mindset to follow him is no different.

I can assure you that God will not change. He did a pretty good job at creation. He didn’t need to change. He did a pretty good job of setting the rules for Adam and Eve. They changed. He didn’t. Life was never the same for them and the disobedience they introduced in the world changed everything. God didn’t change. But they did. God is still holy. He hasn’t changed. So if everything keeps going downhill in this world, if evil keeps creeping up since the fall of man, if humanity gets worse and worse in what we do to each other, and we are supposed to be the intelligent beings living on this rock. We’ve changed and we’ve made a mess of things. God still hasn’t changed. He’s the same as he was before creation. He will be the same when time ends. If we expect to see him, guess who needs to change? Not God. He’s doing just fine. After all, he’s God. He makes the rules. Change is hard. But sometimes change is necessary and even though it’s hard, it is certainly worth it in the end. How is your change coming along?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Sep 17, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Last week we determined that we are controlled by our thoughts and we need to take a look at the thoughts we need to turn over to God and let him help us change. Today, I want us to consider this thought. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to.

Let me give that to you once more, then I’m going to pause for just a second or two to let you consider it with me. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to.

I mentioned last week that I have a business that deals in change management. One of the aspects of that service looks at the life cycle of organizations to help leaders determine how well they are poised for change. The thought above is very true, but too many of my clients have waited too long and determine they are well past that “change before they have to” part and are in the throes of change because they have to.” The business figured out their profits have started along that downhill slide on the life cycle of a dying business. They know they must change if their company hopes to survive.

Every once in a while, though, a smart CEO or owner will take a look at their business before they must change. They examine their business while still moving ahead before they get to the top of that peak of economic prosperity. They look around at other businesses around them and take a gander at opportunities the market has to offer and they recognize their great ideas from a few years ago are now just run of the mill and you can find like products and services on every street corner and often much cheaper than what they offer. They know they must change if they are to survive in the long run and so they change and manage that change well. The change causes a small blip in their profit curve, but then it recovers from the blip and climbs rapidly in the market again. Change happens, management matters.

But what about us as individuals? Well, guess what, we will change. All of us must change. The question each of us must answer is will we change before we have to or because we have to. Maybe the change is because of the loss of income with a job loss. Maybe health issues puts a stop to certain physical activities. Maybe the loss of a loved one causes immediate change. These kinds of changes can come unexpectedly and without warning. We change because we have to.

Others we can prepare for and although we know they are coming, we can be ready for them or at least as ready as we can. What kinds of things can we prepare in advance? Retirement is one. Too many in this country rely solely on Social Security for their retirement income. If that’s your only income, you will live below the poverty level. It was never designed to be the sole retirement mechanism for the population. It was designed as a safety net for those without means of support. What does that mean? If you are in your twenties or thirties and just starting your career, put away some portion of your income into a retirement fund now. It doesn’t have to be much, but get into the habit of putting it away where you can’t get to it easily. You will need it when you retire.

If you are in your forties or fifties, you can still begin to catch up, but you will need to start putting away larger sums of money quickly before it is too late. And teach your kids to put money away for retirement. You need funds for retirement a lot more than you need this year’s model car. You need funds for retirement a lot more than you need a swimming pool in your backyard or a house  to impress your friends with extra rooms that will just sit empty all the time.

And if you are already retirement age, you understand exactly what I’m talking about and you should share your wisdom with those who are coming along behind you. We live in a very materialistic, instant gratification society that will implode on itself if we do not change our ways soon. Change before you have to, not because you have to. Solomon talked about the ants that store away food for the winter. Smart little creatures!

And how about death? We don’t like to talk about it, but do you have a will? Will all your assets get tied up in probate court waiting for lawyers and judges and the state to figure out what to do with your property? Wills fix those things and they are usually very easy and simple to execute. How about a living will so family members don’t have to make the traumatic emotional decisions about your quality of life if you are in a hospital bed with little or no brain activity but can be made to exist on life support for months on end?  Life insurance? Funeral arrangements? These all sound like morbid things, and they are. But all of them are much easier to attend to before someone rolls out a casket in front of you and you have to make those decisions while you are still in the shock of have lost someone so dear to you.

How about spiritually? To get to heaven, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s pretty straight forward. We are all sinners. Some have been saved by his grace. We are all invited. He offers all the gift of his forgiveness. But a gift is not a gift until it is received. Until we accept it willingly, we don’t have the gift he offers. God’s desire is that we would all accept the gift he offers. He also knows that we are stubborn and there will be some that will go their own way and refuse him. I hate to talk about it, but as surely as there is a heaven because God is full of love and grace and mercy, there is also a hell because God is also just and holy and true to his word. He has never changed. We must if we are to be in his presence face to face one day.

We are back to that haunting thought that we started with today. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to. Sometimes life is not fair and we are blindsided by events that force us to change because of them. Receiving the gift of God’s grace and mercy and the forgiveness of our sins is a change that can happen right now. This very moment. All you have to do is ask him with a repentant heart and he will do it. Come on and let him change you. New life is yours for the asking.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Sep 10, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Today we start a new topic that will take us through  the next few weeks. In one of my businesses, I serve as a professional change manager. In fact, as part of the marketing of that business, I secured a copyright for a slogan that explains a little of what the company does. The slogan says this, “When change happens, management matters.” You see, we all change. In fact, we change all the time. If we didn’t we would be dead. Did you know that the only cells in the body that are not replaced with some frequency are brain cells? Every other cell is replaced on a regular basis. Skin and hair cells being two of the most frequently replaced. You might be surprised to know your whole body of skin is replaced about once a month.

But we will talk about some different kinds of change over the next few weeks. Suffice it to say that we must change. So if change is necessary to our very survival, we need to know a little about change. We need to think about what needs to change in our life and how to go about managing that change in a way that benefits us. Taking a knife and slicing off strips of skin is not the best way to change your skin cells monthly. Yet cutting your hair every once in a while is not necessarily a bad thing. You probably don’t want to remove an eye and expect it to regrow itself, but a cancerous tumor needs to be taken care of quickly and decisively before it spreads throughout the body.

So change is necessary for all of us and management of change is also important. We, however, will talk about changing some important things and how we must manage those changes so God can use us most effectively in the days, months, and years ahead.

What do we talk about first? Let’s look at that organ in which the cells don’t change. The brain is the center of all your thoughts. Hundreds of thousands of studies have been done trying to explain that three pound mass of goo that sits in that space between your ears. We have learned a lot, but we still know so little about it. We know it operates with tiny electric currents that run between the neurons, those little nerve cells that comprise the brain. Yet how do those cells hold every memory and analyze problems and create imaginative and artistic things? We have no idea. When those connections are broken through concussions or surgery or trauma or drugs or some other means, those memories and analysis processes and creativity can be destroyed or changed. Why? We don’t know except all that information is stored in those tiny electric currents in the cells, just like in computer chips. Fascinating studies with no good answers except that God made us in incredibly complex ways that we cannot duplicate.

So what about that brain? Why do I mention it first in this series of change? Jesus kind of points us in that direction. He tells us that murder starts with a single emotional thought of calling a brother or sister a fool. He said that rape begins with a single thought of lusting after a person. See, every behavior we name as a sinful behavior begins inside that three pound brain as a thought and then is transmitted to our hands and feet to carry out that thought in action. So to carry Jesus’ warning just a bit further, our thoughts control us. He said what comes out of our mouth tells others what we really are. Those thoughts that result in words we can’t take back. Those are the things people hear and see that determine our true character.  

Your thoughts control you. You might say, “Wait a minute. That’s not who I am. My thoughts are private. I can day dream and think what I want without affecting anyone else. I can daydream or think about actions I’d like to take against someone or something, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever carry them out.”

Really? Think about it for a minute. We are controlled by a lot of things sometimes. Your boss controls what time you show up for work. If you get there too early, the doors are locked. If you habitually get there too late, you find you no longer work there. Your bank account controls what you can buy. You thoughts control your attitude. And attitude creeps into all that other stuff. Do you think you can work effectively for a boss you despise with your thoughts? You will barely get by at best, doing only the minimum he requires and getting away from him as fast as you can every day. Do you think those lustful thoughts about that co-worker doesn’t affect the way you see your spouse when you get home?

We need to get honest with ourselves if we are going to be the men and women God wants us to be. Before we can do anything about those attitudes, those thoughts, those things that control us, we have to recognize them and begin to turn them over to God so he can help you change them. Maybe the things controlling you are physical appearance or popularity or greed or power or what others think of you. Whatever the thing that controls your thoughts and keeps you from being the man or woman God wants you to be, sit down today and make a list of those things. Jot them down in a private place or share them with a prayer partner if you can. Begin to let God change those thoughts and hindrances to your relationship with him.

Your thoughts will control you. That three pound miracle that sits between your ears controls your whole body. It is the place where every function in your body finds its origin. Nothing happens within you that does not start from a command in that mass of cells call the brain. So what is controlling you? What needs to change? Are you ready to give those things to God and let him help you change?

Let’s go back to that slogan I mentioned in the first place. When change happens...management matters. You are changing. The question is who is managing the change? Do you think your managing it? How’s that going for you? Do you think our culture is shaping and managing your change? That works great, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s time to turn the management over to God and let him direct the changes that need to take place. He’s really good at change. After all, he changed nothing into something. Darkness into light. Chaos into order. He can help you change the thoughts that control you, too. Take a chance. Let him manage your life from the inside out.

Change is happening. Who will manage it for you?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Sep 3, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Samson left God and didn’t know it. His behavior took him away from the one who gave him strength. Now he was in prison, blind, and turning the stone on a gristmill like a mule. He hit rock bottom and discovered why he had any strength in the first place. We pick up Samson’s story in Judges 16.

Samson’s head had been shaved. But the hair on it began to grow again.

The rulers of the Philistines gathered together. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were going to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed our enemy Samson over to us.”

When the people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us.

Our enemy has destroyed our land.

He has killed large numbers of our people.”

After they had drunk a lot of wine, they shouted, “Bring Samson out. Let him put on a show for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison. He put on a show for them.

They had him stand near the temple pillars. Then he spoke to the servant who was holding his hand. He said, “Put me where I can feel the pillars. I’m talking about the ones that hold the temple up. I want to lean against them.”

The temple was crowded with men and women. All of the Philistine rulers were there. About 3,000 men and women were on the roof. They were watching Samson put on a show.

Then he prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord and King, show me that you still have concern for me. God, please make me strong just one more time. Let me pay the Philistines back for what they did to my two eyes. Let me do it with only one blow.”

Then Samson reached toward the two pillars that were in the middle of the temple.They held the temple up. He put his right hand on one of them. He put his left hand on the other. He leaned hard against them.

Samson said, “Let me die together with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might. The temple came down on the rulers. It fell on all of the people who were in it. So Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than he did while he lived.

It took defeat, blinding him, imprisonment, and humiliation before his enemies for Samson to realize how far he had strayed from the path God intended for him. He finally figured out that without God, he was just another man. He was a clay vessel, easily broken without the one who created him standing alongside him in his journey.

We often read those last verses of Samson’s life and brand him a hero because of the number of Philistines he killed. Enemies of Israel and God that he snuffed out. We too often think he was someone to emulate and think about what we might do with such strength. But take another look.

Did Samson have to go through all the suffering he did to carry out God’s plan for his life? I don’t think so. Maybe we would not have the stories about him we do now. Maybe we wouldn’t have the lessons we learned from his bad behavior. Maybe we wouldn’t use him as examples of how to live or not to live in this journey of life. But I have a feeling that’s not true. I think God gave him strength and his position as judge over Israel to carry out his plan to defeat the Philistines, but I think God’s plan would have played out much differently if Samson had listen to him.

In my imagination, I can see Samson still defeating the armies God’s enemies sent against his people, but can you imagine the impact on nations around him if he had followed God’s laws. He would be respected by Israel instead of 3,000 men showing up at his hideout in a cave ready to turn him over to the Philistines. He could have been a tremendous leader if he had displayed the moral courage to do what was right instead of what satisfied his base desires.

Samson often acted more like an animal than one of God’s chosen people. And like a wild animal, his enemies laid traps for him until they finally caught the beast. It was only in captivity that God was able to tame the beast and show him who was really in charge.

You and I can find ourselves in the same trap if we fail to listen to that still, small voice that echoes in our mind. We must stop and recognize that there will be consequences to our behavior whether we like those consequences or not. We must understand there are no freebies in life and there will come a time, sooner or later, when we will feel the effects of what we do in our life.

We can also learn from Samson that God will redeem us when we repent. He comes to us when we recognize our sinful state and ask forgiveness. He responds when we understand he is God and knows what is best for us. God reaches out to us because he wants to have an intimate relationship with us. But he is also a holy God and we must come to him willing to obey him. Samson did and God listened and did incredible things through him. When we come to God willing to follow, he will do incredible things with us.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

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