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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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Now displaying: September, 2017

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Sep 25, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 4; You Version Bible app, days 22 through 28

We continue our journey through the story examining another of the stories that almost everyone has heard. In fact, almost everyone can tell you the book that contains the story. It’s found in the book of Exodus, an interesting compound Greek word that means “the way out.”

Today I want us to focus on the hero of the story as we have focused on the unlikely heroes in the first weeks of our study. Adam and Eve were unlikely heroes because of their disobedience. Abraham was an unlikely hero, picked by God to be the father of the nation of Israel through which all the nations of the world would be blessed. Joseph, a slave and prison, who God chose to become the second in command of the mighty nation of Egypt. All unlikely heroes. People you and I would never choose if we were God. But then we are not God. He chooses people whose hearts are in the right place, not who necessarily have it all together.

So it is with today’s story. Who would choose Moses as the savior of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt? Yes, he was miraculously saved from Pharaoh’s destruction of the male children born to the slaves as they continued to increase in population. Yes, he was raised in Pharaoh’s palace as a young man. But Moses was a murderer. Moses had a price on his head. Moses couldn’t speak well and many scholars think he might have suffered from some sort of speech impediment and had difficulty being understood. Moses was an outlaw living in the wilderness making sure no one recognized him, tending sheep, just to stay alive.

What did Moses have that would make him the hero of the story? Why would God choose him to be the leader of the nation and call him to face Pharaoh to pronounce His judgment on Egypt to free His chosen people from their centuries of slavery? Why would God ask someone with a speech impediment to be His spokesman? This just doesn’t make sense, does it?

But there he was, tending his father-in-law’s sheep, when God spoke to him from a blazing bush that wasn’t consumed by the fire. Bizarre! We would see Moses as much more a hindrance than a help. But God saw something else. He saw a man committed to Him. He saw a man He could use as an instrument of His grace and mercy. He saw a man through whom He could demonstrate His justice and His redemption because He saw Moses’ heart.

Was Moses perfect? No. Not by a long shot. We already said he was a murderer. He was a coward, running into the desert when confronted by his countrymen. He even did things after God called him as Israel’s leader that kept him out of the promised land. Remember the story of Moses striking the rock to get water out of it instead of doing what God said and speaking to the rock? That might not sound like a big deal to you, but to God that was disobedience to His command. That’s pretty serious, don’t you think? That was just like Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden when God said don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They didn’t do what God said. God told Moses, “Speak to the rock and get water out of it.” Moses didn’t do what God said and his punishment, like Adam and Eve’s was banishment from the promised lan. Moses wasn’t perfect. He had his struggles and his faults just like you and I. But he knew to whom he could go when he did wrong. Unlike Adam and Eve, he didn’t hide, but rather he confessed and laid himself before God in repentance. He opened himself to the God of the universe and kept that intimate relationship between His God and himself. And that’s why God used him in such a miraculous way.

There were still consequences for Moses’ disobedience. We still have consequences for our sin. We pay a price for the wrongs we commit. God sometimes removes the consequences, but most often does not in the physical world we live in. We suffer and struggle in this broken world because we live in a world filled with sin. But when we follow Him and obey His teachings, we experience far fewer of the negative consequences that come with wrong actions. Right living brings good consequences. Wrong living brings bad consequences. It just makes sense.

This week, if you follow the reading in “The Story”, chapter 4 or the smartphone app You Version reading plan Engaging God’s Story days 23 through 29, you will see just how God uses this unlikely hero as an instrument for the salvation of His people. It’s pretty exciting stuff.

The readings also remind me that God can use the most unlikely people, even you and me, to carry out the most incredible events. He might not use you to change the world like He did with Moses, but then again He might. Moses was 80 when he stood before the burning bush. Abraham was 100 when Isaac, the promised son was born. God doesn’t pay attention to age or bank accounts or social status or race or nationality or any of the things we might think are important in being a hero or world changer. God pays attention to hearts. He wants people who are devoted to Him. And when He finds that person, He can use him or her to do what others think impossible.

We’ve already seen that in the characters we’ve explored just in these few days of reading God’s Story. But hold on. There is a lot more ahead. God has a plan and it is unfolding just as He expects. You can be part of moving His plan forward or you can futilely try to push against it. It’s your choice which side you choose. But He is God and will not and can not fail because He is God and we are not. No matter how hard we might try to push against His will, His plan, He wins...every time. So which side will you choose? Yours or His? It’s really not hard to make the smart choice, so why do so many choose the wrong one? Which one do you choose?

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 18, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 3; You Version app, days 15 through 21

This week you’ll read the story of Joseph. You probably remember much of his story if you’ve been around the church. Even if you don’t know much about the Bible, you’ve probably heard something about Joseph. The story of Joseph and his multicolored coat even made Broadway.

But we need to look at Joseph’s story the way it fits into God’s story. Remember we’ve been talking about the difference between the lower story we live in and the upper story God plans. We can’t see farther than the moments we live in. We can’t see around the bend in the road to know how the events of today will really impact our lives tomorrow. But God sees the panorama of eternity. He knows how ever moment of our lives, every moment of suffering, can be turned into good for us.

Joseph could not understand how his brothers selling him into slavery could be good for him. But God knew how he would use it. Joseph didn’t understand how being accused of rape and thrown into prison could be a good thing. But God knew how he would use that horrible event that could mean Joseph’s execution to save the nation He promised to build through Abraham.

Joseph didn’t understand how the broken promise of the baker and his languishing in an Egyptian death row prison could be anything but bad, but God knew how that event would eventually put Joseph in front of Pharaoh at just the right moment to make Joseph second in command of the whole kingdom and become the salvation for not only Egypt, but many of the surrounding nations as well.

Joseph had dreams as a teenager that he would rule his brothers and parents. Those dreams seemed to be dashed when his brothers sold him into slavery. He couldn’t see the big picture of God’s upper story. All he could see at any given moment were the days of suffering in slavery or prison. But Joseph kept his eyes turned upward and trusted God.

That’s why when his brothers came to get food from Egypt during the famine that hit the region he could tell them, “It was not you that did this, but God did it to save all of us.” His brothers might have meant to do Him evil, but God had a bigger view and turned that evil into good and saved Israel through those actions. God’s plans cannot be thwarted.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened had Joseph’s brothers not thrown him into the pit and sold him into slavery. Would Joseph still become the leader of the nation? Probably. God set him apart as revealed in the dreams he had a young man. There was something special about Joseph that God saw that few others did. It caused a lot of friction in his family and as a teenager, he didn’t handle it very well. Neither did his father.

The obvious favoritism in Jacob’s family created horrible internal family dynamics. I can’t imagine the difficulties a family counselor would have trying to straighten that crowd out. The jealousy, infighting, favoritism...everything that all the books tell you creates a bad family happened in that one.

Maybe God let all that happen to get Joseph away from the continued influence of the family dynamic in Jacob’s family. Maybe God needed to teach Joseph some humility through suffering before he could become the great leader God knew he could be.

We don’t know how God works or why we go through the things we do because we can only see the lower story. We see linearly and have all those obstacles in the way. We have to pay our bills, eat, go to work, deal with all of our own family dynamics and our neighbors and our co-workers and church members and, well, ...life. We are stuck in this two dimensional view of life and cannot see what is next.

God on the other hand sees all. He is not bound by time. He exists eternally. Past, present, and future. He can see around the bend and can intervene in our lives to make His dreams collide with our lives to make sure His plans are carried out.

Often we have dreams as kids or as teenagers that God plants in our heads and we let life destroy them just as Joseph did. I doubt if he thought he would ever become a ruler after he was sold into slavery. I doubt if he thought his dreams would ever come true after he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. I imagine he set those dreams aside and just worked as hard as he could knowing that is would God would expect of him.

But those dreams did materialize for him as he followed God’s ways. Have you ever thought that God might use you the same way? That all things really do work for good for those that love Him and work according to His purpose? They do. There are many examples we will continue to see as we continue to read through God’s story. But remember the two conditions that go along with God’s promise.

First, we must love Him. And second, we must work according to His purpose. That means He must come first. Does your checkbook show that He comes first in your life or does God just get leftovers? Does your calendar reflect your love for God? Do your social activities show God is first in your life? Does your library and reading and listening habits show that you want to hear God’s voice more than anyone else in your daily communications?

God’s promises are almost always conditional. If you don’t really love God and don’t work according to His purposes (not your own), don’t expect this promise from Romans chapter 8 to apply to you. God might do some good things for you just because He is a gracious God, but the promise doesn’t apply. Don’t expect it.

But if you do love Him. If your life reflects you love for Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, you can be assured everything that happens in your life will work toward something good in your life. I can’t tell you when or how, but God’s promise applies to you and He never breaks His promises.

Just like with Joseph, all things work for good. He spent 22 pretty tough, rotten years suffering at the hands of his brothers and then at the hands of masters and prison guards. But he then spent 71 years as Pharaoh’s second in command. No one had more authority in the known world at the time except Pharaoh himself. He traded 22 rough years for 71 years of luxury in Pharaoh’s palace. God turned bad into good. Both for Joseph and for the nation God was building through the covenant He made those years earlier with Abraham.

Do you have some old dreams that don’t seem to be happening? Maybe you just can’t see around the bend. Look up. God works in the upper story. Follow His will. Work toward His purposes. Love Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. He works in ways we will never comprehend. Like with Joseph, God can turn our dreams into His dreams and His are so much beyond what we could ever imagine.

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 11, 2017

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.

Welcome back to our study of “The Story,” God story of His plan to bring us back to Him. Last week we talked about the Garden of Eden, why we are no longer in it, the curse of evil we all inherited because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey, and God’s working to redeem us - to bring us back into fellowship with Him. The story of the Garden is the first of five major movements in God’s word, His story. Today we begin the second movement, the birth of the nation of Israel.

Bible Reading Plan - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a> - or Genesis chapters 12-35

When I was a kid, I’ll have to admit I wasn’t the most athletic person in my community. I was always the geek. Loved reading and science and math. I enjoyed learning more than running around outside getting all hot and sweaty. So one of the things I remember about that time of my life are the games we had to play in school in which someone was made the captain of each side and those captains began to choose their team from all the kids around them. If I wasn’t the last person picked, I was next to last just about every time.

I just wasn’t very good at sports and so I never got picked early. I could write well, debate, take tests of all kinds and perform at the top of the class in those areas. But sports? Not so much.

A strange thing happened on one of those fields one day, though. One of the best players on the field was a friend. On this particular day, he was chosen as the captain of one of the teams. I was at the back of the crowd of kids trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.Trying not to be as embarrassed as usual. I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on at the front of the crowd because I knew I’d be one of the last one’s whose name was called.

But my friend, the captain that day, made the first pick and he called my name. He had to call it twice, though, because I was in shock. No one picked me first. The other captain called a name and then my friend called the name of the second least likely to be asked to play. Then when he called the third name for his team, it was another geek, least likely to play any kind of sport. And that’s how it went until everyone was picked.

I don’t even remember what the score was at the end of the softball game that day, but I remember being called first when teams were formed. I also remember we didn’t win the game, but all of us on that team played our hearts out for our captain. He broke the cultural traditions and put together the worst team you could imagine.

God’s story, beginning at Genesis 12, tells of the selection of two unlikely people. If we were trying to build a nation, we wouldn’t pick Abram and Sarai. We would probably find the son of some wealthy king and spark a new nation from him. We would probably look at the pedigree of those who applied and like the majority of the world, we would peruse all those resumes to pick the very best couple we could to form this new nation.

But God’s story is a little different. He chooses some of the most unlikely people to carry out His plan so there is no question about His intervention in the story. Abraham and Sarah (God changed their names along the way) were old. She was barren. They had no children. How was a great nation to start from an old couple with no children. He was already well past retirement age when his son Isaac was born. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90.

Then about fifteen years later, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son. The heir to his property. The one who was promised as the means of building a new nation that would bless all the other nations of the world.

These 20 plus chapters in Genesis tell the story of how God chooses the way my friend did that day on the field. There is one really important difference, though. On the softball field, that broken team didn’t play very well. We played hard, but we lost. But when God chooses someone to carry out His work, when we do what He asks, the plan never fails. The plan doesn’t fail because God doesn’t fail. He intends to use men and women like Abraham and Sarah to bless others.

Was Abraham perfect after God chose him? Not by a long shot. That’s one of the things that’s different about His Story. He tells us the good and the bad about the heroes in scripture. God’s story doesn’t hide the disappointment, the disobedience, the sin in the lives of those upon whom His kingdom is built. It’s one of those “tell all” kinds of stories. We see behind the curtain and see all the warts and wrongs and brokenness of those God chooses to do His work.

What that tells me, when I read stories of Abraham and his deceit with Pharaoh or the story of Jacob lying to his father and stealing his brother’s birthright or the story of Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law, is that God can use all the people the world would never pick. He looks at the back of the crowd at those who are least likely to succeed. He finds those who the world would snub their nose and question why God would think to use “that person.”

God knows what He is doing, though. God works through some of the least likely for two reasons, I think. First, when those least likely carry out His plan and others around see the success of God’s work through the efforts of the least likely to succeed, there can be no question that God is part of the plan. There is just no other way to explain how things work because we cannot see around the bend in the road. We can’t see how everything will work because we live in the lower story of God’s word while He operates in the upper story.

God not only sees what’s ahead, but intervenes to make sure His plans happen as He intends. Second, when we read about people like Judah and Jacob and Abraham and the mistakes they made yet were honored by God when they returned and followed Him, we can understand that God can use you and me too. He can take us with all our warts, all our brokenness, all our failures and turn us into instruments of His love and part of His great plan.

The question is whether we will be part of His plan or fighting against His plan. The choice is ours to make. God won’t force us to follow Him or accept Him as our redeemer. He won’t push us to do something we refuse to do. He will let us choose our own path. But we also suffer the consequences of taking the wrong path. He tells us how best to live. His word gives us instruction on how to get along with others, how to succeed in life. How to treat our children and our spouse. How to find Him and His redemptive power in our lives. But still, God lets us choose. He knows the best path for us and if we will look up and follow Him, He will show us which path to take. But we still get to choose whether we will take it or not.

So here we are at the beginning of the nation of Israel. God made it possible for Abraham to bless the world through his offspring. Abraham decided to accept God’s offer and to follow Him. You can look at the first chapter of the New Testament and discover just how blessed the world is because of Abraham’s faithfulness. Jesus is his descendant. Both Mary and Joseph trace their heritage back to this man who decided to trust God and follow the path He laid out.

So what can you do? Can you change the world for God? No. Neither could Abraham. But God can change the world through you just as He changed the world through Abraham. An unlikely candidate for greatness, but God change that in Abraham. You might think you are an unlikely candidate for greatness. But God can use you to carry out His plans and make all things good as you carry out His purpose in your part of His creation.

So what will it be?

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 4, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com

I’m back and happy to be sharing with you again after a brief interlude with work and family.

My church, San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene, begins a new series September 11 called The Story. Some of you may be familiar with The Story and may have even been through its 31 week study. In our church, through this series, every class and every sermon, and we hope every family and person will focus on The Story. So in keeping with the theme of my church, I will be sharing devotionals aligned with next Sunday’s sermon and small group discussions.

So today we start at the beginning of life as we know it found in Genesis chapters 1-8. I won’t get into discussions about whether we live on a young earth or an old earth. I won’t try to give you any scientific information on how all of this came into being. I won’t argue points about the size and scope of the universe or debate the physical properties and mathematical equations that explain the delicate balance of how life can exist at only this spot in our solar system. But I will tell you that every civilization, every religion tells the story of creation. And our Bible begins it this way: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

At the end of those verses that outline the order of creation beginning with God’s spoken word to separate light from darkness, each creative act carries the same pronouncement. “God looked at His handiwork and said ‘It is good.” The earth He created, the living things that populate it, plants and animals and even man are all celebrated as good. God created them, so how could they be otherwise?

There is another important verse near the beginning of that creation narrative that helps us understand what the Bible, The Story, is really all about. It is found in Genesis 3:8, “Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was the coolest time of the day.”

We will get to the rest of that verse in a moment, but it’s important to recognize what God is doing here. He desired to be with Adam and Eve. He also desires to be with us. It was God’s routine to meet with those first inhabitants of the earth and He walked with them in the garden each day.

You see, God’s greatest desire, His greatest passion, the thing He longs for is a relationship with the men and women He creates. You’ll find that the rest of The Story, from that first verse in Genesis until the closing verse in Revelation lays out for us God’s passion to have an intimate relationship with each of us.

God walked with Adam and Eve. They saw Him face to face. He communed with them as they cared for this creation He put into place. It was perfect when He designed it. In the beginning, there was no pain, no heartache, no tears, no death, no evil. The garden was the place God came to meet with the highest of His creation.

But in that third chapter of Genesis we find that Adam and Eve chose to disregard God’s instructions. They made the choice to disobey. And their act brought evil and death and the destruction to God’s good work. We brought pain and heartache and tears and death and evil into the world by our choosing. Ever since that first act of disobedience, we have lived out the last of Genesis 3:8, “The the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It wa the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

Adam and Eve could no longer face the perfect, holy God when their hearts were filled with disobedience and evil. So they hid. They covered their nakedness with fig leaves. They tried to get away from the One who desired to be with them. The rest of The Story, God’s Story, tells of His pursuit of us. We are still His creation and He still longs to walk with us.

God from this point on put a plan in place to redeem us. He wants us back. But He is still a holy God and will not tolerate evil. He made us this promise, though. One day He said He will recreate the earth. He will destroy this one and put in its place a new heaven and new earth. The new one will be better than this one because Satan will be banished. There will once again be no tears, no pain, no death, no evil. And we will once again see God face to face in that perfect recreated garden.

From the fall through the rest of The Story, God makes a way for those who follow Him. We see it in Adam and Eve’s children, Cain and Abel. God gave Cain a way of escape from the punishment of other men by putting His mark upon Him. God took Enoch to be with Him without experiencing the pain of death as an example of His love and grace. God rescued mankind from total destruction through Noah, a righteous man who followed God in all He did. Throughout His Story, we will see God and work trying to redeem us from the death we brought on ourselves.

But throughout The Story, we will also see that it is always our choice. We choose the path we take. We choose obedience or disobedience. We choose to remain trapped in the heartache and evil that come as a result of the fall. Or we choose to accept His plan of redemption and follow Him.

The first garden, the Garden of Eden was perfect. We destroyed it with our evil choices. Through the centuries to this very day, we continue to destroy God’s creation by our choosing to disobey. But for those who choose to listen to and believe His Story, those who trust in Him and follow His leading, there will be a new heaven and new earth. Better than the Garden of Eden. He promised it in His Story and God never breaks a promise.

There are five movements in The Story: the story of the garden, the story of Israel, the story of Jesus, the story of the Church, and the story of the new garden. We heard today an excerpt about the story of the garden. Join me again next week as we continue our journey through the five movements of the Bible, The Story, God’s plan to redeem us and have that intimate relationship He had with Adam and Eve walking through the Garden.

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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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