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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: November, 2017

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Nov 27, 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 13; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 85 through 91

Some of you might be old enough to remember getting the Sears and Roebuck catalog about this time of year growing up. We would eagerly await its arrival and mom and dad would try to point us to the clothing sections to get us to point out what we wanted for Christmas, our fingers would always turn to those dozens of pages in the back with all the toys. Board games, cowboy outfits and toy guns, bicycles and skateboards (the simple ones with metal roller skate wheels on the bottom of a flat board, back then. Pogo sticks. Basketballs and footballs. Or maybe it was the dolls and dollhouses, baby carriages and things the girls like to browse through. I’m not sure what those pages held because I always skipped over them to get to the adventure stuff.

We would circle what we wanted and earmark the pages hoping someone would get the hint of what we really wanted. Most of the time, it wasn’t practical and was too expensive, but it was fun to dream. We would spend hours looking through those catalogs every year. Kids today miss out a lot by not having catalogs. Yeah, they can find anything they want on the Internet, but it’s just not the same. You lose that tactile experience of flipping through the pages, circling that long awaited treasure, and leaving the breadcrumb trail for mom and dad to discover your deepest desire in the pages of the giant Sears book.

David’s son, Solomon didn’t have a Sears and Roebuck catalog, but not long after his coronation, God came to him in a dream and asked him what he wanted most of all. Just name it and it’s yours. If you were a young man in the prime of life and just given the keys to the kingdom, literally, what would you ask for? I bet most of us would at least ask for the bills to be paid off. Maybe a new car or a better job. Money would top most people’s most wanted list.

But Solomon didn’t ask for a big house or more friends or a better job or a lot of money. He didn’t ask for the things most of us would ask for if given a blank check to have anything we wanted. Solomon said these words: “Lord my God, you have now made me king. You have put me in the place of my father David. But I’m only a little child. I don’t know how to carry out my duties. I’m here among the people you have chosen. They are a great nation. They are more than anyone can count. So give me a heart that understands. Then I can rule over your people. I can tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Who can possibly rule over this great nation of yours?”

The Bible says, “God was pleased that Solomon had asked for that. So God said to him, ‘You have not asked to live for a long time. You have not asked to be wealthy. You have not even asked to have your enemies killed. Instead, you have asked for understanding. You want to do what is right and fair when you judge people. Because that is what you have asked for, I will give it to you. I will give you a wise and understanding heart. So here is what will be true of you. There has never been anyone like you. And there never will be.

“And that is not all. I will give you what you have not asked for. I will give you riches and honor. As long as you live, no other king will be as great as you are. Live the way I want you to. Obey my laws and commands, just as your father David did. Then I will let you live for a long time.”

Did God grant Solomon’s request? You bet. We have a sampling of his one line tools for successful living in the proverbs attributed to him. If we would live by those one-liners he gave us, we wouldn’t have near the trouble we cause ourselves in life. Our problem is we just don’t pay attention to all those good rules Solomon gives us. Simple things like: “Riches that are gained by sinning aren’t worth anything. But doing what is right saves you from death.” or “Hands that don’t want to work make you poor. But hands that work hard bring wealth to you.” or “A wise heart accepts commands. But foolish cattering destroys you.” Or one we really need to hear today, “Hate stirs up fights. But love erases all sins by forgiving them.”

No one was wiser than Solomon. Kings, queens, and leaders from all over the world came to sit at his feet and listen to him and were astounded by his wisdom. They showered him with tremendous gifts from their kingdoms to honor him and the wisdom he shared with them as they came to visit. Solomon became renowned throughout history for his understanding and the magnificence of his kingdom. Why did he receive all of this? Because he humbly asked for something greater than himself. He genuinely pleaded for a gift that would benefit others more than it would him. He asked for the wisdom to rule. As one of David’s youngest sons in a family filled with jealousy, turmoil, and internal rebellion to determine who would sit on the throne, Solomon would need all the wisdom he could get to keep the kingdom intact.

Solomon knew what was important. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep the commandments as he promised he would. He soon started marrying the daughters of some of those visiting kings to form treaties with neighboring kingdoms. God’s laws said don’t marry outsiders so they wouldn’t tempt the Israelites to worship their foreign gods. Solomon didn’t pay attention and it wasn’t long before those 1,000 wives brought their idols into the palace and the kingdom started following their example. If only…

Like many of those unlikely characters in the Bible, God still used Solomon. He also teaches us a thing or two by letting us see the good, the bad, and the ugly based on the decisions we make. Solomon didn’t live by his own proverbs later in life and watched his kingdom begin to crumble from the inside because the people in the kingdom failed to follow God the same way he failed to follow God. He let power and fame and riches and wealth become more important to him than living by the precepts his father David taught him.

Jesus reminds us of some of those same philosophies 1000 years later when he told those around him on the hillside during the Sermon on the Mount. “Put away riches for yourself in heaven. There, moths and rust do not destroy them. There, thieves do not break in a d steal them. Your heart will be where your riches are.” If we could grab hold of what Solomon and Jesus told us, really believe it, and live it from day to day, we would not buy into the lies the world tells us and live so much better off than we do in trying to grab that golden ring the world says we need.

Solomon was really smart man. Jesus was smarter. We can trust the pearls of wisdom they left behind for us. Just believe them and live them and you’ll be amazed at how much better you days go. You’ll be shocked at how the stress falls away and days seem to be filled with more joy and happiness. You see it’s not things that bring happiness. It’s the relationship with God and with people that make the difference in whether life is enjoyable or not. Give the ancient king’s words of wisdom a try. You’ll like them.

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.

Nov 20, 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 12; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 78 through 84

What one night would you like to erase from your memory forever? What one event would you like to just take away from your past because of the consequences that have come from that one indiscretion? You know what it is. It probably doesn’t take you a lot of time to think back through your history. You probably don’t have to thumb through pages and pages of journals to think of the event you’d like to relive and do things differently.

King David had one of those days. His army went to war in the spring of the year, but he didn’t go with them. One night he went out on his roof and glanced over his city and there on another rooftop he saw Bathsheba bathing. If David had just walked back inside and gone about his business we probably wouldn’t hear about the demise of the twelve tribes or the terrible things that happened within his own family. But he didn’t.

David sent a servant to bring Bathsheba to his palace and he slept with her while her husband, Uriah, one of David’s mighty men, a brave and loyal soldier in his army, performed his duties on the field of battle. David sent her home. Soon she sent word to David that she was pregnant and the king tries to cover up his wrongs.

First, he brings Uriah home to blame the pregnancy on Uriah, but he doesn’t go home. Refusing to enjoy the comforts of home while his men are suffering the discomforts of the battlefield. Next, David tries to get Uriah drunk to then let his baser desires take hold and get him to sleep with his wife. But that doesn’t work either. Uriah is just too loyal to his men and the king’s army. Finally, for all intents and purposes, David murders Uriah by sending a secret message to his commander instructing him to place Uriah at the front where the fighting was the fiercest and then withdraw leaving Uriah to die. David even sent them message by Uriah to seal his own fate.

David thought he covered his tracks. To the army and the kingdom, it looked like he did a noble thing and took in his warrior’s widow into his palace to marry her and take care of her after Uriah’s untimely death. He thought his sin was hidden from all but he and Bathsheba. But God knew and God let Nathan, His prophet know. The prophet came to David and uncovered the sin. He pronounced the punishment that God decided. Bathsheba’s child would die.

David prayed, he pleaded, he begged. The consequences of his sin began. David repented, but Bathsheba’s child still died. His son raped his daughter. Another son rebelled against him and tried to take his kingdom from him. David watched his family fall apart as a consequence of the sin that started because he didn’t walk away that spring night in Jerusalem.

God forgave David and called him a man after His heart. Why? Because David did repent and tried to live according to the laws God laid out for His people. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. But God still named David a man after His heart and all the kings of Israel were compared to David, the nation’s best king. David made mistakes. God forgave him. But David still suffered consequences as a result of his sin.

David didn’t blame God for his suffering, though. He understood justice and knew the things he suffered were a result of his actions, not God’s. The family problems he faced were because his children behaved as he had behaved with Bathsheba and Uriah, so how he could expect other results. David knew something we forget too often. The message that we reap what we sow doesn’t matter if God has forgiven us or not. We may still reap the harvest of the actions we have taken. Like David, we may be forgiven, but it doesn’t mean we won’t suffer the consequences of those actions in this life.

What does it all mean for us as we look at those characters like David? God isn’t looking for perfect people. He knows none of us are perfect. He made us. He knows us. He knows your faults and failures better than you do. What He’s looking for are men and women who, like David, will listen when confronted with their sin. He’s looking for men and women who, when confronted with their sin will repent instead of blaming someone else. He’s looking for men and women who, like David, will meditate on His word, do their best everyday to abide by His law, and listen to His voice.

He tells us He really only has two rules for us to keep. Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love other people like we love ourself. If we will just do those two things we will stay out of trouble and will keep all His other commands. If David had kept those two rules that night in Jerusalem when he was out on his roof, he would have walked back inside when he noticed Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. You see, he would not have wanted to sin against God or against Bathsheba or her husband Uriah. He would have wanted to maintain their reputations and his own.

David had that bad night and God forgave him. You’ve probably had a bad night or two yourself. I doubt if your bad night was any worse than what David did, though. He drug his whole family and nation through the mud resulting in rape, murder, incest, a divided kingdom, defeat by their enemies, finally the whole nation falling into exile. God forgave him, but the consequences unfolded before him.

Don’t let that happen to you. Obey God. Recognize He has your best in mind. He doesn’t want you to suffer the results of the harvest of sinful ways. Reap a harvest of good deeds and righteous living. It’s not impossible. In fact, God will help you along the way. Just put your trust in Him, listen to His voice, and obey when you hear Him call.

Nov 13, 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 11; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 71 through 77

Whether you are a church goer or not, you probably know the story of David and Goliath. David the giant killer. This 16 year-old shepherd goes to find his brothers in the army, take them some home cooked food, and see how their fight with the Philistines is going. He comes into the camp and hears the taunts of the Philistine champion, Goliath, daring anyone in the Israelite army to come out and fight him. All the Israelite soldiers hide behind the rocks and trees and bushes or in their tents afraid to face this giant of a man who stands almost ten feet tall.

David also hears about the reward for taking on this barbarian and killing him. Whoever kills the giant gets to marry the king’s daughter and he and his family lives tax free the rest of their lives. So David goes to king Saul and volunteers. Saul loans David his armor, but since Saul is a head taller than everyone else in the kingdom, of course the armor just swallows David. So David sets the armor aside and faces the giant with the weapon with which he is most familiar, his sling.

I think sometimes people get the wrong impression of David and his sling. We sometimes think of David as this scrawny 16 year-old kid with pimples and stringy hair, like the Shaggy Rogers character of Scooby-Doo fame. But don’t kid yourself. Jesse’s boys seem like the start of a mafia crowd to me. As a teenager, David killed a bear and a lion barehanded.

David’s brothers were all part of his band of 30 mighty men. Those were the elite of his army who characterized themselves by extraordinary deeds like killing a hundred men or more in one battle by themself. And David was their leader. To be the leader of these kind of men in those days, you won fights against them yourself. So, I have a feeling David was no slouch when it came to his physical frame or his fighting abilities.

David also came from Bethlehem. Warriors from Bethlehem were known for their ability to use slings. They learned as kids. These weren’t toy slingshots that we get in the store here. They weren’t the Y-shaped stick with a rubber strap you pull back and release. These were real slings. A leather pouch connected to two flax cords that would be swung over the head and then one of the cords released at just the right moment to release the stone held in that pouch. The stone would reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour.

Imagine being hit by a rock moving one and a half times faster than the best pitchers throw their best fastballs. A good fastball can break a bone. If hit in the head, expect at least a concussion if not a fractured face. Now reduce the size of that projectile, increase the speed by 50% and put God behind the placement of that projectile. Pow! Right in the forehead. Down for the count! Whether immediately dead or just unconscious and giving time for David to run over and cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword. The sling was the perfect weapon. David could project that stone farther than the length of a football field.

But God was behind it all. The visit of David to his brothers. The confrontation between His people and the Philistines. The armor that was too big. The skill with the sling. The trajectory and impact. The fear Goliath’s defeat created for his countrymen. The defeat of the Philistine army. God intervened in the life of this unlikely character to unfold His plan and show us His greatness.

Who would have picked this 16 year-old as Israel’s champion that day? No one but God. Who would have expected this shepherd who have never lifted a sword to kill a nearly ten foot giant and rout an entire army? No one but God. Who would have thought anyone would go out on the battlefield against this champion without armor and face him with only a shepherd’s sling in his hand? No one but God.

God empowered David and David knew it. God cuts giants down to size and David knew it. God takes the impossible and makes it possible and David knew it. God can intervene in what might seem to be the most difficult of circumstances and turn those circumstances into good for us and David knew it. So David could walk out onto that field. Pass by the stream and pick up five smooth stones. One for Goliath and four more for Goliath’s four brothers just in case they decided they wanted to play, too. David could declare with confidence God was on His side and God would do the impossible to prove He was God.

Was David special? Not really. What was special about him was that He turned to God in the good and the bad times of life. When he made mistakes, and he did, he went to God and repented. He tried his best to live the way God wanted him to live. He read and meditated on God’s word. He read the scriptures that were available to him. He listened to the prophets that came to him and advised him. He prayed. He talked to God and listened to God. And he did what God asked him to do.

Does that make him special? I suppose it makes him different than most of the people around us. Because most of the people around us do what they want instead of what God wants. That’s the difference. What course will you follow? Yours or God’s? What giants do you face? Will you step out and let God defeat them with you or will you cower in the tents and let them continue to hold you back and make life miserable for you?

God is still in the business of showing who He is to those who will listen to Him and obey His word. All you have to do is step out on the battlefield. He pretty much does the rest. And He always wins. Always. Romans 8:28 is true when we meet those two conditions it holds. All things do work for good when we love Him and when we align our lives with His plan. Look up and let Him work in your life the plans He has for you. You won’t regret it. He promises.

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.

Nov 6, 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 10; You Version Bible app Engaging God’s Story Reading Plan Days 64 through 70

Samuel is recognized as the last of Israel’s great judges and the first of it’s great prophets. Eli, failed in his responsibilities to carry on the priestly duties required by God. He, like Aaron before him, didn’t keep a reign on the training and discipline of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They didn’t act like the representatives of His holiness He expected of His priests and were killed in battle. When Eli heard the news, he fell backward off his chair and broke his neck. Samuel became the priest and prophet for the nation in his stead.

There was a problem in Israel, though, that plagues many of us today, though. Israel, like Hophni and Phinehas, like all of those teens that wore the straight black hair and black clothes and black fingernail polish and black lipstick during the “Goth” fad. In trying to be “unique” we end up trying to be like all those “unique” people, so we end up being like everyone else.

Israel did that too.

They left a kingdom that suppressed and enslaved them and God defeated 31 other kings over a period of seven years to take over the land He promised to them. Those kingdoms were stronger with bigger armies, but God intervened and fought their battles and the land flowing with milk and honey became their possession just as He promised Abraham 600 years before.

For all that time, they listened to the priests God put in place to share His message and remind them of who He was and what He wanted from them, sort of. You see, time and time again, they would look around at the kingdoms around them and want what they had. They would see the shiny idols and would begin to worship them instead of the invisible invincible God who brought them there in the first place. They forgot the One who saved them from their trouble and wanted to be like the kingdoms around them.

In their desire to be unique as a nation, the Israelites would like around and say to their priests, “We want to be different...like Moab! We want to be different...like Midian! We want to be different...like Edom!”

Just like our kids, and us when we were teenagers when you think back honestly about it, we want to be unique just like those around us. Let me be like the popular guys or girls around me, I’ll dress like them and talk like them and act like them so I fit in, so I’ll be liked, so I can be popular, so I will be accepted. You probably remember the pressure of being a teenager and young adult and getting through those awkward stages. The problem is, we really never grow out of those awkward stages. We keep doing it all through life, it just isn’t quite as obvious as we figure out that “Goth” won’t get us a job. So we dress and act like the people who get the best jobs. We act like our neighbor and try to keep up with the “Jones” so to speak. We ape those around us because we don’t really want to be different after all.

Israel asked for a king. They got one. Saul. He was handsome, the Bible tells us. He stood a head taller than everyone else. The was the photogenic type that the politicos would look for today if they were trying to pick their poster child for the campaign. And Saul started out pretty well. He didn’t want the job and hid in the luggage when they tried to crown him. But like many at the top, power corrupted him.

Samuel warned the Israelites what kings would do to them. He told them kings would levy taxes against them. Draft their sons into his army. Take their lands. Make demands on them that would put them into slavery every bit as cruel and harsh as what they experienced in Egypt. Saul didn’t. In fact, interestingly, Saul was the only king that didn’t raise a standing army. He fought against Israel’s enemies, but the army was volunteers who then went home after defeating their foes.

Saul never raised taxes. He didn’t take any of their lands or build a palace or declare a capital city or establish a throne. He led the country, but he kind of led the nation from his house and just showed up for battles when necessary. Except of course, when he was after David. David was the first to really levy taxes and keep a standing army and build a palace and capital city in Jerusalem. David started building projects and put in place a government that would later lay some fairly heavy burdens on the people and would ultimately cause the split of the kingdom into two nations because of his grandson’s poor decisions.

But the problem for Israel all started with one little problem that we all have and it runs counter to what God wants of us. God wanted Eli and Hophni and Phinehas to be representatives of His holiness. They weren’t and they died. God wanted Israel to be different from the nations around them and demonstrate His holiness by living according to His laws. They didn’t and they ultimately fell into captivity because of their apostasy.

And God’s wants you and me to be different from the world around us. We live in evil times. Many will tell you that it’s okay to do things or live certain ways. But it’s not. God hasn’t changed. There is still right and wrong. Good and bad. Holy and evil. God wants us to do what He says. It’s that simple. It’s not always easy in a world that has turned everything upside down and hijacked words and symbols and definitions and tried to confuse us with all of it.

Gay meant happy and light hearted at one time. Marriage meant a solemn and holy union between only a man and a women at one time. The rainbow was a symbol of God’s promise to never destroy all the world by a flood again at one time. Evil has turned bad into good and good into bad and blinded people just as God’s word said it would so that many follow down that broad road to destruction and few find that narrow path that leads to life everlasting.

We try far too hard to different like everyone around us and so look just like the world. We try far too hard to fit in and be noticed and accepted instead of remembering that Jesus said if we really want to follow Him, the world will hate us just like they hated Him because of His message of righteous living. You see, God won’t let us live any way we want if we follow Him. He wants to have an intimate face-to-face relationship with us, but He is a holy God and will not walk in the presence of evil. It’s a problem He has set a plan in place to deal with, but we must accept that plan. And that plan includes stepping out of the mold the world puts us in and living according to His precepts.

So, the sixty-four dollar question for today: Are you different like Hophni and Phinehas and Eli and Saul, patterning yourself after those who are successful in the world? Or are you different like Samuel listening to the voice of God and following in the path He lays out, even though it may not be popular or appealing from the world’s perspective? The answer makes a huge difference as to what happens when you wake up on the other side of this life and open your eyes in eternity.

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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