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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: October, 2017

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Oct 30, 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 9; You Version Bible app Days 57 through 63 in the Engaging God’s Story Reading Plan

In this week’s reading, we find the story of Ruth. Again we see the stark difference between God’s upper story and the lower story we can see from day to day. The book of Ruth starts with the narration of her mother-in-law’s marriage to Elimelech and their move to Moab because of a drought in Israel. Over the next ten years, Naomi’s two sons marry Moabite women, her husband and both of her sons die, and Naomi deep in despair decides to return to her hometown of Bethlehem.

Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab so they might remarry or at least have some support from their families while she returns to her own family roots and find some support as a widow. Orpah finally agrees and tearfully returns, but as you remember from the story, Ruth stay with Naomi and returns to Bethlehem. Ruth finds favor with Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz acts as Elimelech’s kinsman redeemer under the Levitical laws and purchases Elimelech’s land to keep the property in the family.

In doing so, Boaz also obligates himself to caring for Naomi and taking Ruth as his bride to carry on the lineage of her dead husband. All of that might seem strange to us in our society, but it was all part of God’s plan to keep the land He promised to each of the tribes within the tribes. Each family retained possession of the land God gave them and this kinsman redeemer law ensured that if a property owner died without an heir, the property still remained in the tribal family.

Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed. Obed has a son named Jesse. Jesse has a son named David. Fourteen generations later, Mary and Joseph raise a son named Jesus. Both of them are descended from King David. What a great love story we see in the book of Ruth. It would make a great movie as you see the drama unfold.

Sometimes, though, we don’t really understand just how much drama really happens in this book because we read the words without knowing the background behind the world scene and tying together God’s upper story with the lower story Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and all the other players lived through. So let’s look at some of the background that makes this story so much more evident of God’s upper story at work.

First, note that Elimelech and Naomi moved into the country of Moab during the famine. Not a good idea if you’re an Israelite. The Moabites were enemies. Even though they may have food during this period of famine, being an Israelite in enemy territory put you and your family at great risk. It meant Naomi and Elimelech probably either did a lot of hiding or played the role of Moabite wherever they lived to keep themselves alive. They would not be welcome as foreigners taking food during a time of scarce resources.

Second, Elimelech and Naomi allowed their sons to violate one of the Levitical laws God had given Moses when they let their sons, Mahlon and Kilion marry Moabite women. God’s law said the Israelites were not to marry foreigners. They were to marry within the Israelite community so their spouses would not bring foreign gods into their community. Mahlon and Kilion violate that law when they married Orpah and Ruth.

Third, when Ruth came back to Bethlehem with Naomi, the reverse was true. Here was a foreign widow, an enemy widow, coming into Israel with no means of support. Randy Frazee characterized her gleaning in Boaz’s field this way. “It would be like a woman in a burka picking corn in a field in Iowa.” Ruth would certainly stand out. She was an outsider and few would trust her, few would want to help her. Everyone would notice her, but not in a good way.

Ruth lay at Boaz feet to let him know she was available after he showed her kindness. It was anything lewd or seductive. It was a common way to signal she was available. Boaz set things in motion to marry her, but had to give a closer relative the opportunity to buy the inheritance of her dead husband first. When her closer relative decided purchasing the land would put his finances at greater risk and refused to redeem the land, Boaz made the deal, purchased the land and made Ruth his wife.

So why would Boaz be so kind to this outsider? Why would he pay attention to this person that most people would shun? What made Boaz different from the other men in Bethlehem? Why would God use Boaz in the way He did and how did He mold Boaz in a way others had not been molded? Just take a look at the genealogy discussed a little earlier. I mentioned the trailing end of Ruth and Boaz’ lineage. Obed. Jesse. David.

But take a look at Boaz’ mother. Rahab. Remember her? She was the prostitute in Jericho who hid the Israelite spies that Joshua sent into the land before attacking the city. Can you imagine how Boaz was treated in that little village where everyone knew everyone else? Yes, she hid the spies and helped Israel defeat the city of Jericho, but that also made her a traitor to her own people. No one likes a traitor. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on. No one likes a traitor.

And Rahab was a prostitute. It was probably the only way she could support herself in that large ancient city. But prostitution still carried its stigma then just as it does now. And Boaz not only befriended this prostitute, but married her. And Rahab was a Moabite, an enemy. A long time enemy. She betrayed her own people, would she betray the people of Bethlehem as she did the people of Jericho?

The lower story of Ruth and Boaz, and their parents looks like an unlikely group of players in God’s plan to bring people back into a face-to-face relationship with Him. How could God use traitors, prostitutes, enemies of His chosen people, outsiders, people obviously disloyal and disobedient to His laws to further His plan to bring us back to Him? It seems impossible to us. It would be a crazy, insane, scheme to any of us if we were trying to put together a plan for restoring that lost intimacy of the garden.

God lives and works and reigns in His upper story, though. God intervenes in humanity to ensure His plans ultimately work to the outcomes He has set out achieve. We can look up and align our lower story with His and be part of His plan. Or we can choose our own path and find ourselves on a path toward destruction. We can choose the path, but we cannot choose the consequences. The question remains for each of us. Can I trust God in His upper story to work for my good as I love Him and align my life with Him.

If you believe His word and watch the outcome of the heroes we see in His word and the lives of so many who have chosen to follow Him, you will find that God’s promises are true. Romans 8:28 is true. God can and will turn the impossible into reality and turn what seems to be bad into our good when we keep our eyes focused on Him and keep our lives aligned with His upper story. We must remember in those hard times that Isaiah was absolutely right when He penned the words God inspired him to write: “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts, and my ways are higher than your ways.” Trust in God. It will be okay.

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.

Oct 23, 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 9; You Version Bible app Days 57 through 63 in the Engaging God’s Story Reading Plan

In this week’s reading, we find the story of Ruth. Again we see the stark difference between God’s upper story and the lower story we can see from day to day. The book of Ruth starts with the narration of her mother-in-law’s marriage to Elimelech and their move to Moab because of a drought in Israel. Over the next ten years, Naomi’s two sons marry Moabite women, her husband and both of her sons die, and Naomi deep in despair decides to return to her hometown of Bethlehem.

Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab so they might remarry or at least have some support from their families while she returns to her own family roots and find some support as a widow. Orpah finally agrees and tearfully returns, but as you remember from the story, Ruth stay with Naomi and returns to Bethlehem. Ruth finds favor with Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz acts as Elimelech’s kinsman redeemer under the Levitical laws and purchases Elimelech’s land to keep the property in the family.

In doing so, Boaz also obligates himself to caring for Naomi and taking Ruth as his bride to carry on the lineage of her dead husband. All of that might seem strange to us in our society, but it was all part of God’s plan to keep the land He promised to each of the tribes within the tribes. Each family retained possession of the land God gave them and this kinsman redeemer law ensured that if a property owner died without an heir, the property still remained in the tribal family.

Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed. Obed has a son named Jesse. Jesse has a son named David. Fourteen generations later, Mary and Joseph raise a son named Jesus. Both of them are descended from King David. What a great love story we see in the book of Ruth. It would make a great movie as you see the drama unfold.

Sometimes, though, we don’t really understand just how much drama really happens in this book because we read the words without knowing the background behind the world scene and tying together God’s upper story with the lower story Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and all the other players lived through. So let’s look at some of the background that makes this story so much more evident of God’s upper story at work.

First, note that Elimelech and Naomi moved into the country of Moab during the famine. Not a good idea if you’re an Israelite. The Moabites were enemies. Even though they may have food during this period of famine, being an Israelite in enemy territory put you and your family at great risk. It meant Naomi and Elimelech probably either did a lot of hiding or played the role of Moabite wherever they lived to keep themselves alive. They would not be welcome as foreigners taking food during a time of scarce resources.

Second, Elimelech and Naomi allowed their sons to violate one of the Levitical laws God had given Moses when they let their sons, Mahlon and Kilion marry Moabite women. God’s law said the Israelites were not to marry foreigners. They were to marry within the Israelite community so their spouses would not bring foreign gods into their community. Mahlon and Kilion violate that law when they married Orpah and Ruth.

Third, when Ruth came back to Bethlehem with Naomi, the reverse was true. Here was a foreign widow, an enemy widow, coming into Israel with no means of support. Randy Frazee characterized her gleaning in Boaz’s field this way. “It would be like a woman in a burka picking corn in a field in Iowa.” Ruth would certainly stand out. She was an outsider and few would trust her, few would want to help her. Everyone would notice her, but not in a good way.

Ruth lay at Boaz feet to let him know she was available after he showed her kindness. It was anything lewd or seductive. It was a common way to signal she was available. Boaz set things in motion to marry her, but had to give a closer relative the opportunity to buy the inheritance of her dead husband first. When her closer relative decided purchasing the land would put his finances at greater risk and refused to redeem the land, Boaz made the deal, purchased the land and made Ruth his wife.

So why would Boaz be so kind to this outsider? Why would he pay attention to this person that most people would shun? What made Boaz different from the other men in Bethlehem? Why would God use Boaz in the way He did and how did He mold Boaz in a way others had not been molded? Just take a look at the genealogy discussed a little earlier. I mentioned the trailing end of Ruth and Boaz’ lineage. Obed. Jesse. David.

But take a look at Boaz’ mother. Rahab. Remember her? She was the prostitute in Jericho who hid the Israelite spies that Joshua sent into the land before attacking the city. Can you imagine how Boaz was treated in that little village where everyone knew everyone else? Yes, she hid the spies and helped Israel defeat the city of Jericho, but that also made her a traitor to her own people. No one likes a traitor. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on. No one likes a traitor.

And Rahab was a prostitute. It was probably the only way she could support herself in that large ancient city. But prostitution still carried its stigma then just as it does now. And Boaz not only befriended this prostitute, but married her. And Rahab was a Moabite, an enemy. A long time enemy. She betrayed her own people, would she betray the people of Bethlehem as she did the people of Jericho?

The lower story of Ruth and Boaz, and their parents looks like an unlikely group of players in God’s plan to bring people back into a face-to-face relationship with Him. How could God use traitors, prostitutes, enemies of His chosen people, outsiders, people obviously disloyal and disobedient to His laws to further His plan to bring us back to Him? It seems impossible to us. It would be a crazy, insane, scheme to any of us if we were trying to put together a plan for restoring that lost intimacy of the garden.

God lives and works and reigns in His upper story, though. God intervenes in humanity to ensure His plans ultimately work to the outcomes He has set out achieve. We can look up and align our lower story with His and be part of His plan. Or we can choose our own path and find ourselves on a path toward destruction. We can choose the path, but we cannot choose the consequences. The question remains for each of us. Can I trust God in His upper story to work for my good as I love Him and align my life with Him.

If you believe His word and watch the outcome of the heroes we see in His word and the lives of so many who have chosen to follow Him, you will find that God’s promises are true. Romans 8:28 is true. God can and will turn the impossible into reality and turn what seems to be bad into our good when we keep our eyes focused on Him and keep our lives aligned with His upper story. We must remember in those hard times that Isaiah was absolutely right when He penned the words God inspired him to write: “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts, and my ways are higher than your ways.” Trust in God. It will be okay.

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.

Oct 16, 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 7; You Version Bible app, days 43-49

Today we look at a book of the Old Testament that was required reading for every soldier in the Israeli army before their 1967 war with Egypt. As you read through the book, you’ll understand why. It’s filled with stories of battle. It’s story after story of God intervening for His people, bringing victory to His new nation as they moved into the land He promised Abraham as an inheritance more than 600 years earlier. It’s a book that inspires courage. In fact, three times in the first chapter, We read the words, “Do not fear, for the Lord your God will be with you.” Do you think He means it?

Of course He does. Because God will ask us to do some crazy sounding things that would ordinarily bring fear to the most fearless among us. Just take a look at the first thing God asks Joshua to do in this conquest of the promised land and you’ll understand why He tells Joshua not to be afraid. God has to remind Joshua not to be afraid because He is the master of the events in the upper story and all we can see is the lower story we live in. We can’t always see Him at work so it’s easy for us to be afraid.

Look at the facts Joshua was dealing with as God told him not to fear the people of Jericho.

  • Forty years had passed but the Canaanites were no smaller than when the Israelites seemed like grasshoppers in their own eyes.
  • The fortifications around Jericho had been impenetrable against every enemy that tried to oppose it.
  • Joshua had to take more than a million people across a river without bridges, so there was no hope for surprise.
  • God told Joshua to circumcise all the males when they crossed the Jordan river just days before they were to attack Jericho.
  • The strategy God gave them to breach this impenetrable fortress was march around the city in silence once a day for six day, then march around it seven times on the seventh day, blow their trumpets, then take the city.

I’ve been part of planning several combat operations and even more contingency plans in case we were to go to war in various parts of the world. We spend days, weeks, sometimes years refining contingency plans to put the right force in the right place. Making sure the ratios are right. Making sure the supplies are available. Making sure the routes in and out of the objectives can be cleared and kept clear. Putting together everything we could think of to ensure victory before we ever started out on a campaign.

But I never saw a plan like this one...except in the book of Joshua. I think if our planning staff had ever presented something like this to our commander he would have fired us on the spot. Talk about a ludicrous plan. Talk about a way to dishearten your warriors before battle. Talk about a plan sure to fail before it starts. This is it.

Drag a million people across a fast moving river with no bridges and then give all of them minor surgery and tell them you’re going into hand to hand combat. Right! What would you think if you were those soldiers reporting to Joshua? “Don’t be afraid Joshua, I’m with you.”

But God, do you understand how war works? Do you understand that those guys are at least a head taller than all of us and have been warriors from birth? Do you understand that those walls are so thick that people build houses inside them? Do you understand you’re asking us to do the impossible?

“Joshua, don’t be afraid. I’ll be with you.”

When Joshua looked at what God asked him to do from his lower story point of view, it’s hard not to fear. The plan God laid out looked impossible, foolhardy. So God needed to remind Joshua it’s not us, but Him. Joshua had to look back through the last forty years and remember God was bigger than all the problems they had faced during their desert journey. Joshua, his soldiers, the rest of the Israelites, the people of Jericho before they perished, all the other nations around them, there was no question who won that battle. It wasn’t Israel’s soldiers. It wasn’t Joshua and his brilliant military tactics. It was all God.

So what has God asked you to do that seems ridiculous? What has He put in your mind that if you took the first step just makes you sweat bullets because you are so afraid of the outcome? What plan do you think He has for your life that seems so outrageous that others will look at you and think you’ve lost your mind because it is surely impossible to accomplish and the risks are just too great to even think about stepping out on that journey?

God told us in His word more than one hundred times, “Don’t be afraid.” He told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid. For I, the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Can you trust God to fulfill His promises in your life the way He did for Joshua and Moses and Jacob and Abraham? Each of those heroes we’ve watched in God’s Story have made the same mistakes you and I have (or worse). Yet God used them in tremendous ways, why? Because they trusted God had an upper story that was far superior to their knowledge in their lower story. They trusted God knew a better future than they could see in their short-sighted present.

That’s all God asks of us. Look up and recognize God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than ours. His upper story reaches far beyond what we can see in our lower story and He always works for good for those who love Him and work according to His purposes. When God asks us to do something others might think crazy. Something that even brings a bit of fear to our hearts. Remember God’s admonition, “Don’t be afraid. For I will be with you wherever you go.”

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.

Oct 9, 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 6, You Version Bible app, days 36 through 42

We continue our journey through God’s Story. We’ve looked at God’s creation of the perfect garden and His desire to walk with us and interact with us in personal, intimate ways. We discovered how our decisions severed that relationship by bringing sin into the world and so God, in His holiness, could not walk in the garden with us anymore because He cannot tolerate sin. We also learned that from the time of that first act of disobedience, God has been working to make a way to restore that perfect relationship with us so that we can once again walk with Him.

We discovered how God uses the most unlikely people to carry out His plan so that no one can claim ownership of that plan. It becomes obvious that only God can be the author of the restoration between God and humanity. He built a special nation through which His plan would come together. He built that nation through Abraham and Sarah and their son, Isaac, born to them at their perfect child bearing ages of 100 and 90 respectively. We saw how God used a slave and prisoner to save His special people and all the other nations of North Africa and the Middle East during a seven year famine that swept that region.

And we learned why God gives us rules so that we can learn to get along with each other. Remember the premise. If we can’t get along with and live with each other, how can we broken, imperfect, selfish, sinful people expect to live with a holy God. Those commands God gave us are not burdensome, gotcha rules and regulations, but rather, the means by which we can live in community with those around us and with God in the center of our community.

So this week, as you read the stories that will come from Numbers and Deuteronomy we will learn something about the Israelites journey in the wilderness. They have escaped from their Egyptian tormentors. Pharaoh’s chariots rest at the bottom of the Sea of Reeds and his army’s bloated bodies float face down in its waters or wash up on the shores. The Israelites have camped out at the foot of Mount Sinai for a year learning about God’s instructions and then God says, “Ok, it’s time to go. Head out to the land I promised you.”

Have you ever headed out on one of those multi-day drive vacation trips? I have to admit, I don’t do those much anymore. When I was younger I took more of them, but I think like me, most people choose to fly rather than spend days in the car to get to their destination these days. Find cheap flights a few months in advance and it’s probably cheaper than the extra days in motel rooms and the gas for the car, right? And certainly better for my back and my psyche.

But when I was a kid, I remember going to Ohio with my parents to visit my grandparents. My dad would sometimes try to make the drive overnight so all of us kids would sleep in the back of the car and not ask THE questions. “Are we there yet?” “How much farther?” “When can we stop to eat?” “What is there to do? I’m bored.” Back then travel was a little different than today. Remember, the first interstate highway wasn’t built until 1954, so by the early sixties many trips still took place on two lane roads. Nashville to Sebring, Ohio was one of those trips.

When it was daylight, the questions started and occasionally my mom or dad’s arm would reach across the front bench seat and swat a leg to let us know it was time to stop whatever it was we were doing. The questions, picking at each other, trying to grab whatever one or the other had. The swat said straighten up, act right, behave yourself. We’ll be at our destination when we get there. Be patient.

Back to God’s story. God told Moses to get going. It was time to leave for their final destination. The promised land awaited. Everyone is thrilled...for a day or two. They complained they needed food. So God sent them manna. Then they complained about the manna. So God gave them quail. But this time God gave them what they wanted. He gave them so much quail that it “came out their nostrils” the Bible says. I’m not sure how much quail that was, but I’m sure I don’t want to find out.

So they complained about the quail. And Aaron and Miriam complain about their brother, Moses! Why is he the leader and not them? He can’t even talk right. Why does he get to go into the tabernacle alone and not them. They want to see God, too. They want to be part of this plan. They have the same blood running through their veins, don’t they? They have the same mother and father as Moses, don’t they? It was Miriam that helped save Moses from being drowned in the Nile after all. This just wasn’t fair! Miriam came away from that argument with leprosy.

Just the year before, these same people were slaves making handmade bricks out of mud and straw for Pharaoh’s buildings. They had a diet of cucumbers and onions. They were beaten by their masters. Pharaoh had all the male babies thrown into the Nile as crocodile snacks. But they thought they were better off there than on their dusty journey through the desert to the promised land described as flowing with milk and honey.

Sounds just like us, doesn’t it? God can do the miraculous for us one moment and then we complain about some minor struggle we have the next moment. He can do the impossible for us and then we question how we will make it through the next day. We lift some prayer request to Him in a study group or prayer circle and then we are amazed when there is an answer to that prayer. We’re just like the Israelites sometimes, aren’t we?

Can I ask you to look back over your life and see how God is working in His upper story to restore His relationship with you? There might be some deserts you’ve gone through. There might be some places where the only thing you had to eat was that plain old manna or you had what you asked for but it was like quail coming out your nose until you just wanted to be rid of it. Maybe you look back and it’s hard to see many places where God worked His miracles because you’re on that dusty road and the winds block your view as if in a sandstorm. Can I challenge you then to remember that we live in the lower story where it is hard to see very far ahead. We only see to the bend in the road and that bend my not be just to the end of our arm. But remember God operates in His upper story and His desire is to bring you into an intimate relationship with Him. He wants more than anything else to walk with you face to face in the perfect garden He has prepared for those who love Him and work according to His purpose.

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.

 

Oct 2, 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 5, You Version Bible app, days 29 through 35.

In my younger days I thought Leviticus a really boring book of the Bible. I’ll have to admit, it’s still not my favorite, but I’ve come to appreciate its rules and regulations a lot more as I’ve come to understand the bigger picture of God’s Story and His plan for us.

You see, the big picture of God’s story is His incredible desire to live face to face with us. But there is this problem we created. We brought sin into the world. We broke that relationship with Him and He has been working to get it back. But God cannot live where there is sin. So His Story tells us how He is working through history to exact His plan to bring us back into that perfect relationship that existed in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve chose to disobey Him.

An interesting concept we need to understand about having an intimate relationship with God, though, is this. If expect to get along with God, we must be able to get along with each other. My kids hated time out growing up. They knew the rules of the house and when they broke them, that was often where they ended up...timeout. Sitting on the sidelines instead of participating in whatever was going on around them. But my wife and I wanted to have a relatively peaceful home. In fact, I’m not sure my kids ever heard me holler at them. That doesn’t mean I’m the best parent in the world. I was absent a lot because of military service. So much of their good character is my wife’s fault. But she and I decided early that we would enforce the rules and from a very early age, they learned there were consequences for breaking the rules.

Kids need fences. They need to know what the limits are and they need to know those limits are firm. When the boundaries change every day, they get confused. They will test those limits and push them as far as you will let them. Never learning there are consequences for disobedience until one day it is too late and the consequences are much greater than either the child or the parent ever expected.

The same is true for adults, though. We need boundaries, too. We need rules as surely as our children do if we expect to live in community with other people. And that’s why God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai those centuries ago.

The last six of the commandments are not unique. Many cultures had those same rules imposed on their people. It’s how communities ensured people got along with each other. Respect your parents, don’t murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or covet the things someone else owns. These six commands keep us in check with those that live around us.

The first four commandments were unique to this new nation God was building through His chosen people led by Moses. Keep God first, don’t make any idols or images, honor and respect His name, and set aside a day each week to remember and worship Him. These four rules keep our vertical relationship in perspective. The last four keep our horizontal relationships right.

But we grouse at the commandments. Why do we need rules? Why can’t I do my own thing? Well, we want rules for everyone but me. That’s the thing. In our selfishness, the very core of sin, we want something that holds everyone else in check but don’t want to be bound by those same expectations. And that’s the problem. We don’t want anyone speeding past our yard when the kids are playing, but we don’t want that ticket when we are guilty of the same crime. After all, I’m in complete control of my car at all times, right? I know what I’m doing, right? Wrong.

God gave us the commandments so we could get along with each other. They model the relationship that exists within the trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit have existed eternally living within these boundaries and know that we can only get along when we observe these same boundaries. So God sets limits on our behavior to help us live in community with each other so that He might restore our community with Him. He wants so desperately to return to those walks in the garden with us.

The rules also told Moses how to build a place for God to stay. He wanted to be right in the middle of this new nation, so Moses constructed a tabernacle, a big tent, for God. If you read about the layout of the camp, the tabernacle was right in the middle of those three million people. Three tribes on the north, three tribes on the east, three tribes on the south, and three tribes on west with the tabernacle smack dab in the middle of the camp. That was where God wanted to be in regard to His new nation.

But the tabernacle also had to be built to perfect specifications. Special wood, special materials, special utensils, special dimensions. Even special people doing the work and handling everything associated with His new house. In fact, the priests could not even go inside because of their sin. God is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin and will not live in the presence of sin. So when His house was built, not even the priests could go inside when He was present.

Sin was a problem. God gave Moses instructions on how to allow the priest to come into His special sacred spot once a year. He gave him a way for atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. A perfect lamb was sacrificed and its blood shed in atonement for sin.

God pointed toward this act back in the Garden of Eden when He killed some animals and took their skins to make clothing for Adam and Eve. These rules for atonement, shedding the blood of an innocent animal point to something bigger coming when He sacrifices His own son for us. But it tells us the innocent pay for our sin. That’s pretty bad. Adam’s offspring, us, pay the consequences of Adam’s disobedience.

Do you ever think your sins might be hidden? Guess again, the innocent pay for your sins. Your spouse, your children, your neighbors. The innocent pay for your disobedience. And oh, by the way, you pay for the disobedience of someone else! You see we are all in this together. We have to learn to get along. God gave us those rules for a reason. He wants desperately to live among us and walk with us in His garden. But until we can get along with each other, we can never get along with Him.

Jesus said it in answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” “Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” If we can’t love our neighbor who we can see. If we can’t live with each other? How can we expect to live with a holy God?

Why did God give us the Ten Commandments? To show us how the trinity lives and how we should live in community. They prepare us in the furtherance of His bigger picture to live with us again in His perfect dwelling place.

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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