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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: December, 2017

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Dec 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 - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a>

We are taking a short break from The Story for Advent and Christmas season. We’ll be back into The Story next week. We’re taking this one more week from the consecutive schedule so that our readings at Easter coincide with the events as recorded in The Story. This is our third and last week away from that study, but rest assured we will go back to it next week and then finish our journey exploring God’s plan to bring us back into a face to face relationship with Him.

You may or may not be listening to this podcast as it is being released, but it was released at 5:00 am Christmas morning. Growing up, that was the about as late as my mom could stand it. She would wake all of us up (if we weren’t already awake). We’d rush down the hall to the living room and get stopped in the hallway until dad could set up the camera. Then we would rush into the living room to see what Santa left under the tree. The next ten or thirty minutes were spent oohing and aahing over that magical thing that appeared under the tree from the night before.

Next, we would open all the other presents under the tree that belonged to our family. As the family grew, with five kids, it took a little while for all of them to get opened, chaos to subside and all the wrappings to be gathered and trashed. Once the unwrapping was done we got to pick one thing to take with us to granny’s house where all who could came for breakfast. Granny’s husband died when my father was only five and remained a widow the rest of her life, so most of her kids came home every Christmas to join her for breakfast. Many of the grandkids also stopped by, so it wasn’t unusual to have forty or fifty people trying to run shifts at the table or sofa or just find some standing room in her tiny two bedroom house.

But one thing that always happened at Granny’s house was that someone read the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 after breakfast. Then we would shower her with gifts. She never wanted anything and after she moved into an assisted living facility, they found many of those gifts unused in closets, under beds, stuffed away wherever she could find a spot because she just didn’t know how to receive gifts very well and didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by taking anything back or regifting as is common today.

Granny made sure everyone knew what Christmas was about. It wasn’t about presents and decorations and shopping and the hustle and bustle we seem to make it so many times today. Granny made sure we knew it was about Jesus’ birth. She even made Him a birthday cake that all us grandkids enjoyed every year on Christmas day for lunch. She always made Him the center of everything that day and made it clear to the family we were celebrating His coming.

Granny would tell me when I was growing up that her call in life was to raise a Christian family. Of the 96 family members at her funeral when she died, a fourth were in full-time Christian ministry. Many served as Sunday School teachers, sang in choirs, served on church boards and committees, and gave their time and energy in myriad ways to their local church. You could count on one hand the number that weren’t in church regularly. And by regularly, I mean every service. Then it meant Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Granny raised a family committed to Christ.

We live in a highly mobile society and kids and grandkids no longer live close enough to do what Granny’s family did every Christmas. We were only an hour or so away the whole time I was growing up. When Carole and I had kids, we were half a world away from their grandparents. Unfortunately, that’s the way with a huge portion of the population now. We can’t spend time with family like we did in days gone by.

But we can still remember Jesus on Christmas. We can still embrace the importance of community and reach out to those around us. To build a family of friends, not to replace our flesh and blood kin, but to share the love of Christ and the importance of this special day. Does that mean we have to prepare big meals with ham and turkey and lots of side dishes and desserts and spend half the day in the kitchen for a 20 minute meal? No.

At Granny’s we had biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, and that’s about it. All of us pitched in to help cook so the meal was pretty simple, quick and easy and it wasn’t the food we went for anyway. We went for the fellowship. It can be the same with any gathering. We don’t need to impress anyone with preparations to enjoy their company. If you have to do that, then those are the wrong people to invite. Invite the ones that don’t care if pillows are out of place or dishes don’t match. The ones that will get their own beverages after you show them where they are the first time.

Spend Christmas in community with people you love. Just sharing Jesus’ love with those around you will make a big difference in your life and theirs. Remember those two commands Jesus gave us that wraps all the others together? Love God and love people. When we do that, something incredible happens. We share the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others in the same way God has give His grace and mercy to us. We learn to give cheerfully from a heart full of love. Those around us see Jesus in our actions when we truly love with His love.

I don’t know what kind of traditions you have in your family. Ours have changed through the years because of experiences we had through our military travels that took us far from family and even sometimes separated us. We made accommodations to what use to be long held traditions because of things that change around us with health and age and place and time. But through it all, there is still one constant.

Jesus is the center of our celebration. We recognize there would be no Christmas without Christ. He is the reason we have the holiday. He is the reason we gather together. He is why we laugh and cry and live and breathe. Jesus is why.

If we lose the real reason for Christmas we lose it all. Whatever you do this day or this season, don’t forget why we celebrate in the first place. Don’t lose the centerpiece of all that happens in this season named for the one to whom it truly belongs. Keep Christ, not just at Christmas, but all year long.

Next week we will return to our study of The Story, God’s plan to restore a face to face relationship with us. We finished chapter 14 before our short break. Next week we will begin reading chapter 15.

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.

Dec 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

We are in a short respite from our study of The Story. We will pick up our readings from that study again after Christmas. But until then, we will enjoy the Advent season and focus on the first coming of Jesus and His expected return. Incidentally, our three week pause will put our Easter readings in line with the Easter season as we march through God’s story, His plan to bring us back into an intimate, face to face relationship with Him.

We all like presents, I think. Some of us like giving presents as much or more than getting them. I’ll admit, when I was young, I liked the getting part a lot better, but as I’ve matured, I really do like the giving a lot more than the getting. I think there is something that changes in us as we go through a few seasons of life. Let’s view a few of those and how they might impact your attitude toward giving this year.

As a child, I thought like a child. Children are selfish. We’re born that way. Just take a look at any infant and you’ll see it’s true. When they don’t get what they want they cry. Feed me. Change me. Hold me. Leave me alone. Let me go to bed. Get me out of bed. Mom’s figure out how to interpret cries pretty well, but babies tell you pretty quickly what they want and they don’t stop telling you until their selfish desires are satisfied. They really could care less about the rest of the world or even the rest of the family. They only care about themselves and their wants.

I became a teenager and learned to give out of luv. That attraction we get when we think we might be compatible to someone. I enjoyed giving something to that special girl I thought I’d be with forever, or at least until next week. You probably remember those teenage crushes and the selfishness that went along with those presents to win the hearts of those to whom they were presented.

Then I matured a little and fell into a state of real love with the lady I’ve been married to for forty-one years. The presents I gave her weren’t meant to get something in return or to win her love, but something to express how I felt expecting nothing in return but hoping she felt as deeply about me as I did about her. Still, I have to say I really enjoyed receiving those presents from her that showed she cared about me, too.

When kids came along, receiving stuff didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to see the joy in their eyes when they received something they wanted, something they liked that they didn’t expect. My giving became so much more important than getting. Grandkids make giving even more fun in the family. Watching my kids’ eyes light up when their kids’ eyes light up is something to behold. Those of you who are grandparents know what I mean.

But this thing about giving being more important and more satisfying than getting started coming about for reasons other than aging and maturing. It is more than just having a wife and kids and grandkids. This thing about enjoying watching the joy in others and watching the glow in other’s faces when they receive something unexpected or something they want or need comes from something deep inside that grows every day as I grow closer to Jesus.

When we pattern our life after His, we learn to enjoy giving. He was the ultimate giver, after all. He gave up heaven to come to earth and walk around this tiny little dirty planet to be with us. He gave up His family to walk the dusty roads of Israel to share the message that God had something better for them. He gave up His life on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and yours. Jesus gave up everything so that we could have it all. We have eternal life because He gave His on the cross.

When we become like Him, we learn that giving brings joy. We learn that giving from the heart is better than giving from the pocket book. It means that giving time is often much better than giving money. It means that giving of yourself is the ultimate goal of every follower of Jesus. Servanthood, giving and giving and giving for the joy of giving is the life Jesus taught His disciples and the life we find when we let His lead us.

To the world it makes little sense. You can still find lots of adults that have the attitude that the one with the most toys at the end wins. You can find those who believe money and accumulation and getting everything they can get is what it’s all about. You can find those who buy into the world’s lie that material things are the most important things and they go after them with gusto.

To the world, servanthood means weakness. To Jesus it means obedience to His will and incredible strength because it’s His strength, not ours. To the world servanthood means poverty. To Jesus it means indescribable wealth and riches because He created, controls, and rules the universe. To the world servanthood means subordination. To Jesus it means living the way we were created to live in harmony and community.

We see lots of presents under our tree at Christmas time. When the kids and grandkids come to the house we have a great time watching the paper fly and the listening to the squeals of joy and the laughter and excitement that comes from the mouths of those little ones. They grow up too fast and soon the sparkle that comes from getting all those presents will subside. I hope, like their grandparents and their parents, they learn to enjoy giving more than getting and serving more than being served as they mature physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This is a good time to take inventory of your own attitude toward presents. Which do you like best and why? Getting or giving? Take some time and really think about it. I’d like to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share. Remember Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:7: You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give becaused you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

It’s not just money God cares about, but time, talent, you. God loves a cheerful giver of themself.

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.

 

Dec 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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com

We have been following “The Story” for the last 14 weeks, but for the next three, we will take a short recess and enjoy Advent, remembering Jesus’ first coming into the world in the flesh and also looking forward to His return one day soon. This three week break also puts our reading in the story such that our reading in The Story will coincide with the events of Easter as those dates roll around. So I hope you enjoy this short interlude as we enjoy the Christmas season together.

The term advent came into being in the 12th century. This Middle English word means the arrival or coming of something. The church soon adopted it as the description of the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, this year from December 3rd through December 24th. We use those four weeks to celebrate not just His coming, but to anticipate His return. That’s what Advent is all about. Something that arrives or comes.

As I prepare this podcast, I just celebrated my 41st anniversary. We spent the night as a “stay-cation” on the Riverwalk here in San Antonio. We enjoyed the lights, watched the people, ate great food, and reminisced about the last 41 years together. The time helped us remember our times together on other anniversaries. Gatlinburg, where we spent our honeymoon and several anniversaries, Germany, New York, and a host of other places. It made me remember a lot of anniversaries we spent apart because of deployments, field training, and travel at the Army’s demand.

We also thought about the future, though. The past helps lets us enjoy those fun times we’ve had together. We can live those good times over and over in our minds. But living in the past doesn’t help us much except to translate failures into lessons so that we don’t repeat mistakes and turn those lessons into more than knowledge. We can turn experience into wisdom as we mature and make the future better for ourselves and others as we share wisdom. So we talked about the future.

The younger crowd probably thinks in different ways about the future than those of us who are retiring and we who are retiring probably think differently than those who have been retired for awhile. Now Carole and I think about how we can live close to all of the grandkids. Of course, that would mean convincing our kids to live closer to each other in a mobile society. We think about health and downsizing and how much activity we can really do in a day before we launch out on one of those high adventure vacations. We talk about budgets and what will happen to pensions and Social Security and health insurance in the future now that we dip into it so much more than we did in the past.

But something we talk about so much more than we did a few years ago is just how close Jesus’ return feels to us. Earthquakes in Delaware? When did that become commonplace? Record numbers of hurricanes? Uncontrolled wildfires and flooding all around the world? You can blame it on global warming if you like, but you can also read about these things in Matthew 25 as Jesus warns of the catastrophic natural events that will occur before His return.

So as we read the papers and listen to the news and reporters seem so bumfuzzled about why things seem so crazy around the world, we just wonder how soon Jesus will return. We read the prophets and see the visions they saw happening all around us. I know, others have said the same thing for centuries, but as I read God’s word and recognize the earth is going through something like birth pangs to usher in a new heaven and new earth, It seems to me the labor pains are getting pretty intense. I’m not sure the labor can get much more intense before this new heaven and new earth come into existence.

So this Advent season we look at the future and recognize the earthquakes won’t diminish but will increase in the coming months or years. The floods will not stop, but rather the hurricanes will become more violent and more people along the coastal plains, major rivers, and 100, 500, and 1000 year flood plains will be at risk. Wildfires will continue to ravage areas plagued with continued drought. Violence from terrorism, racism, political divides, will only increase.

All of that sounds pretty bleak as we peek into the future and ask what it will be like. But it also means Jesus is coming soon. It means the end is near and we will join our Savior. We will be with Him forever when He comes to take His bride home. His desire has always been to live face to face with us in a personal, intimate relationship. The Story, His word, bares that out. As we look to the past and see His actions, His mercy and grace toward us, we recognize the love He has toward us and catch a glimpse of the plan He has for us in the future.

However, we must choose to get on the path to which He directs us. We cannot expect to live with Him eternally by choosing our own way, our own path. We must follow Him to His garden of Eden. We must follow His precepts and principles. We must obey. What are His commands? They are easy to remember, love God and love people. That’s it. Do those two things and all the others fall into place.

Here we are. The second week of Advent. Looking back and celebrating the arrival of Jesus, the One who changed everything. In fact, He changed the world so much that almost every nation recognizes Christmas as a special day of celebration, whether or not they are a Christian nation. It is an international, global holiday. The calendar turned because of His birth. He was and is the God/Man who came to save us.

Advent is also a time to look forward to His arrival. He said He would come again. All the signs are coming together to indicate He might come pretty soon. All you need do is read the paper and listen to the news, compare it to what He said would happen just before He comes and you’ll see the time is right for His return. This Advent season, take time to celebrate. Remember Jesus came to bring life and light to a dead and dark world. He did that in a spectacular way. But we can also remember He will come again to finish the work He said He would do. He will come again to take us to the place He is preparing for us. A place where we can be with Him face to face forever.

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.

Dec 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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 14; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 92 through 98

This week we read the story of Rehoboam. When we think about this young king, we think about what a tragic story and how God must have messed this one up. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, took the throne after his father. Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s advisors and military leaders came to the new king and recommended the heavy tax burden and labor force Solomon had levied on the kingdom be lightened. The people were about to revolt because of all Solomon had demanded of them during his reign.

You see, Solomon lost sight of what he had promised God. Instead of God being the most important thing in Solomon’s life and service to his kingdom being his most important task, Solomon decided the kingdom belonged to him and was from his pleasure. He needed a lot of stuff to support those 1,000 wives and all those guests that kept coming to visit. Take a look at the list of what it took just to feed that crowd every day and you’ll begin to understand just why Jeroboam asked the new king to ease up.

Well, Rehoboam does a smart thing as a new king. He goes to his father’s council and asks their opinion of Jeroboam’s plan. The council agrees. They tell Rehoboam if he will do as Jeroboam asks, the people will honor him and follow him as king. The twelve tribes will remain loyal without question. But Rehoboam decides he will ask his friends that grew up with him in the palace. Remember those 1,000 wives? They had a lot of children. I can imagine Rehoboam and all his palace friends had just about anything they wanted with a father who knew no limits to his wealth. Solomon had anything he wanted. Silver was like stones on the ground it was so common in Jerusalem. Solomon owned tons of gold. Rehoboam was the spoiled king’s son and all his friends didn’t want that free ride to end.

Their advice...tell everyone if they thought his father was harsh and had heavy taxes, just wait until you see what he has in store for them. Rehoboam liked the rich kid syndrome and took the young friends’ advice. Jeroboam took his followers and revolted. Ten tribes left the kingdom. Only Judah and Benjamin remained under the reign of Solomon’s son. Rehoboam was partly paying for Solomon’s failures. Remember he failed to follow God’s laws by marrying all those foreign wives and allowing idol worship into the kingdom. He took his eyes off of what was important and began thinking riches were more important than God. So God took most of the kingdom away from Solomon’s son. Consequences of our sins never affect just us.

But just when you think God’s upper story has crashed, take a look again. Rehoboam gets the smallest portion of the kingdom because of Solomon’s failure. Rehoboam sees the rebellion and civil war rip apart a great nation because he took the wrong advice. Israel is divided. How can God’s upper story possibly survive such disastrous character flaws like we see in Solomon and Rehoboam? Well, we can only see the immediate. We can’t see around the bend. We’re limited in our view of reality because we aren’t God and don’t understand His view from His upper story.

But Rehoboam is one of those unlikely characters through whom God acts. The nation is split, but Judah stays loyal to the Rehoboam, a descendant of David. And guess who come from the line of David. Jesus. Judah’s tribe. Rehoboam’s bloodline. This rebellious young king who wouldn’t take good advice is one of those in the line of Mary and Joseph. Unlikely characters become part of God’s great plan.

So what does that tell you and me? First, it tells me we can’t stop God’s plan. He will make His ultimate will happen no matter what we might try to do to stop it. Second, we can choose to follow Him or not, but there are consequences that come with our choice. When we follow Him, we avoid the natural consequences that follow evil behavior. The law that we reap what we sow happens. Third, the consequences of our choices are not limited to just us. What I do affects my family and all those whose lives I touch. And again, I can’t influence the consequence, only the choices that I make. The consequences are natural results of the choices.

We will all make some choice we would like to redo. We have all probably take advice from someone that wasn’t as wise as we thought they were. We have probably all listened to the wrong group of friends at one time or another and now live with some of those consequences we wish we could redo.

God knows all about those. But He also made a way to forgive us and help us be a part of His plan. He made a way for we imperfect, mistake ridden, broken people to participate in His upper story so that we can join Him in His perfect garden one day. He wants us to have that face-to-face relationship we once enjoyed with Him in the Garden of Eden. He has put a plan in place to do that. It’s His upper story and in His time and in His way, He will bring all who follow Him together again into His paradise.

So here we are. We have choices to make every day and we often need to get advice from those around us. Can I suggest we look for the wise among us to find the best advice, not necessarily the popular or the smart or those filled with what the world thinks is knowledge. Rehoboam paid a high price for taking foolish advice that benefitted him instead of the kingdom. Take a hard look at the advice you get and who benefits from the advice you get. Remember we are to be servants not the served. That’s what Jesus taught us by example. Living with His philosophy of life makes those choices a lot less difficult to discern. Give it a try.

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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