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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: February, 2018

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Feb 26, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 25; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 169 through 175

Have you ever had a question stuck in the back of your mind that you just can’t seem to break loose? I’ve had a few of those through the years. Some seem silly now that I’m in my sixties. Many I still don’t have answers.

Some of those silly questions include things like will I ever be rich and famous? Will anyone ever remember my name when I’m dead and gone? What can I do in life to make sure my family and I are comfortable? How can I get ahead in whatever career I might be in at the time?

Silly questions because none of the answers or outcomes from those questions really matter in the long run. What good is money when you’re dead and gone? Who cares about fame when their bones have crumbled in the grave? What does comfort have to do with anything and it’s all relative anyway. What does it mean to be comfortable? Is that the absence of pain and disease and injury? Will I be able to live in a bubble to avoid all sickness the rest of my life? Silly questions.

But there are some questions that did mean something and are really important. What is God’s plan for my life and am I able to discern it? Do I know my sins have been forgiven and that God’s Spirit lives in me? Have I done my best to live my faith in front of my children so they share my understanding of God, my values, and my faith?

These are important questions in life. I’m learning the first about God’s plan for my life is not as important as God’s purpose and then live my life in his purpose. And what is that? His desire and his purpose is that all would come to know him as Lord and Savior. He wants all to know him and to follow him. God desires more than anything to have an intimate, face-to-face relationship restored with each individual he created throughout time.

So then, my question changes to how can God use me to further his plan on earth? How can I be an instrument for him? The older I get, the more important I find the second question. I also find more people asking that question as they approach death. How do I know my sins are forgiven? How do I know God saves me? There is a great verse in 1 John that helps me and that I share with others to help them. It goes like this: “If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So there is it. Have I confessed my sins to him and asked for his forgiveness? If I have, he is faithful and will forgive. It’s a promise he has made to us through his word and God never goes back on his word. I can know that my sins are forgiven when I confess my sins and do my very best to follow his teachings. That doesn’t mean we have carte blanche to go out and do whatever we want and then come back and throw confession in God’s face. God knows the difference between true repentance and playing the game of religion.Saying the right words and singing the right songs. He tells us not to test him in that way. But when we come to him repentantly, he forgives. It is his promise to us.

That next question, I must look in the mirror and some days I must admit to myself I haven’t done my best. Sometimes I let my family and friends down. Sometimes I’m not the example I should be. Sometimes I let my anger or frustration or disappointment or some other negative emotion get the best of me and I don’t respond to circumstances the way I should. I’m not the Christlike example I should be to those who are watching me.

On those days, I need to not only ask God’s forgiveness, I need to ask the forgiveness of my family and friends. I let them down and I need to recognize my fault and failure with them. I must remember the cross has two beams. The vertical beam that requires confession and a request for forgiveness from the Father because of my sins and failures in living my life for him. But it also has a horizontal beam that reminds me that I have a responsibility to those around me. And I must ask forgiveness from them when I fail them in living a Christlike example in front of them.

But the question that each of us must answer that makes all the others pale in comparison is the one Jesus asked his disciples in Caesarea Philippi. “Who do you say I am?” That is the eternal question for each of us. In your mind is Jesus who he says he is? Is Jesus just the historical teacher many claim him to be? Or is he just a good man who did some amazing things twenty centuries ago? Or is Jesus truly God incarnate? The one and only Son of the living God? The one who came to give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin for all who will accept his gift of salvation?

Your answer to this one question determines how you will live your life. It will determine how you approach every other decision that comes your way. Your answer will decide your eternal destiny. And no one can answer that question for you. It is a question that everyone faces and everyone must answer within their own heart and mind. And when each of us stand before God on the final day of judgment when each of us will answer for the way we lived our lives. We won’t be asked how much money we made or how many houses we owned. We won’t be asked if our names were in the newspaper or we were listed in “who’s who”.

The one question that will be asked and searched out in the book of life is while we took breaths in this world, who do we say Jesus is? Do we know him to be the Son of the living God and live for him...now. But now is the testing ground. Now is the time we have to decide if we will live for him or not. We either accept his gift of forgiveness and follow him or we don’t. The choice is really that simple.

Living for him is not easy in an evil world, but the choice is simple. We believe in him or not. We follow him or not. We know him as the Son of God or not. We trust him for our salvation or not. Simple choices, but not easy ones in today’s world. They have never been easy. They were not easy when Jesus walked the dusty roads of Jerusalem. If you followed him then, it meant persecution, beatings, stoning, the cross, death. Today if you follow him, it means persecution, perhaps beatings, isolation, suffering, maybe even death. The road is not an easy one. But the choice is still a simple one.

Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Everything, all eternity hangs on your answer to that question. So what do you believe? Are you ready to follow? Millions before you have known it is worth it. How about you?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more 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.

Feb 19, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 22; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 148 through 154

The story of Jesus’ birth. Everyone knows it. Even those who have never darkened the door of a church. Even those who try their best to get rid of the nativities in public places and change Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays. Mention “no room at the inn” and people’s first thought is that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

I think we often get the wrong picture of that night, though. I love the story Randy Frazee tells of an elementary school preparing a Christmas pageant for parents. It makes me think about how God would really like us to respond and how we too often respond instead. Here’s the story Randy tells in his book, “The Heart of the Story.”

“...All the important parts were given to the important parts were given to the brightest students. The smartest girl was chosen to be Mary; the smartest boy played Joseph. The next smartest group played the three kings, the angels, and the shepherds.

“There was only one part no one wanted: the innkeeper. Who wanted to be the bad guy who turned Mary and Joseph away? They gave the part to a boy who was a little slower than the others but had a big heart.

“As the day for the big pageant approached, the boy playing the innkeeper began to worry. He couldn’t imagine telling Mary and Joseph there was no room in the inn. What was he going to do?

“Finally, it was curtain time. Parents, relatives, and friends packed the auditorium. They proudly watched the story unfold as their children skillfully carried out their important roles. Meanwhile, the innkeeper grew more and more anxious. The pressure mounted as Mary and Joseph approached. He didn’t know what to do, but somehow he caught a brief glimpse of the Upper Story.

“When Mary and Joseph knocked, the scruffy little innkeeper threw open the door and shouted with a big smile, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.” With that the crowd cheered and clapped and the play came to an end.”

Don’t you think that’s really what God has in mind when He shows up? The wait is over. The prophecies are fulfilled. God bursts on the scene in a way no one expected. He used the lower story in some amazing ways to fulfill His upper story. Caesar demanding the census be conducted in each person’s town of their lineage. Bethlehem was just a little village. David left there to build Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom, remember? And born in poverty in what a family that would be shunned because of the circumstances of His birth. Who would believe Mary had been faithful to her husband Joseph when Jesus came early? She could have been stoned. All the bad things that a family could endure, that family endured. The fateful trip to Bethlehem. The escape to Egypt. Life in the gang filled town of Nazareth. The early death of Joseph, the family breadwinner.

God, by coming to earth in the form of a baby, experienced every single part of life we experience from birth to death. Most of His experiences came from the worst society had to offer. I think He did that on purpose. He didn’t want anyone to say He doesn’t know what we’re going through. He has experienced it all. But stayed true to His Father and His mission to redeem us.

The Jews were looking for a king, not a baby. God came to dwell with us. To live among us. To experience every part of life we experience. He felt all those joys and sorrows that come with living on the wrong side of the street. He knew the heartache that comes from the gossip and slander that launched toward Mary and her firstborn. He knew the grief that comes from the death of those closest to you. He knew the pain of misunderstanding from those around Him, even His own brothers and sisters.

Jesus lived among us, experiencing the life we live everyday. Until Jesus was thirty, he went to work in the carpenter shop every day. He paid excessive taxes to the Romans on the wages He earned. He probably carried some of the soldiers’ packs when He was pressed into service as He walked down the road.

His life was never an easy one. I expect the flowing white robes we see Him wearing in all those pictures and paintings on the walls were not part of His ensemble. I expect He really just had a couple of worn out rags from the local thrift store to wear. I expect the softest bed He ever slept in was that bed of straw in the manger in the cave where He was born. After that, maybe a blanket on the dirt floor or a straw mat on that dirt floor when he was older. Jesus’ life was a hard one that none of us would want to swap.

Yet, like the innkeeper in the elementary school pageant, God wants us to invite Him in when He knocks on the door. He has great things planned for us in His upper story if we will just trust Him and let Him lead the way. We don’t need to worry because He has already experienced this life from beginning to end and knows all about it. He can take us through it and give us peace and joy despite the circumstances we face each day.

How about changing your view of the innkeeper and emulate the new role model when God knocks. Swing the door wide, smile big, and answer, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.”

 

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more 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.

Feb 12, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 21; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 141 through 147

I was thinking after I read this week’s scriptures about the span of time the Israelites went from the words we hear this week until the next chapter in our quest and the next movement in God’s great plan. Malachi stood as the last writer of the Old Testament and it would be 400 years before the next prophet announced the arrival of the Messiah.

400 years. Our nation is just over half that old. We can barely think back to the founders of our country. Most of our kids would have a hard time naming five of the fifty-six signers of the document that announced our beginning, the Declaration of Independence. That piece of paper told Great Britain we had a voice.

Malachi told God’s people that God still had a voice, but for the next 400 years, He didn’t use it. He was silent. He didn’t speak through any prophets or priests. God spoke through the prophets and given His people a plan for returning to Him. They didn’t follow and were cast into exile. God allowed them to return and rebuild the temple.

Ezra read God’s message to the people gathered around the rebuilt temple. The Levites explained His word to those who did not understand the ancient language so everyone knew what the law said and what it meant. And they wept. They saw the error of their ways. They repented of the sins they committed against God and against each other. They determined to live according to the law Ezra read to them.

Nehemiah told them to go home and eat, celebrate, give praise because they finally understood what God wanted from them and could carry out His plans for their lives. They didn’t ask for a new king. They didn’t ask to be like the countries around them. They didn’t ask for wealth or greatness as a nation. They just asked for forgiveness and pledged to follow God’s guidance.

But still, God remained silent for 400 years. The priests conducted their ceremonies and worship services. The singers sang. The teachers taught. The readers read God’s word to the assemblies. The people listened and carried out the laws as best they could. Still God was silent.

Can you imagine not hearing from the leader of the nation for 400 years? In essence that’s what happened to the Israelites. God didn’t speak. They didn’t ask for a new king or a different kind of government. The people had learned their lessons. Yes, the nation lived under the watchful eye of other nations, but in that time, they patiently waited for their coming Messiah. 400 years.

I keep bringing up that number because it’s a little hard to wrap our heads around. No clear guidance for almost twice the age of our country. Nothing from God for four centuries. Silence for almost half a millennium. At sixty-three, I have a hard time remembering what I had for supper last night. 400 years is just impossible to grasp. But for 400 years, the Israelites continued to seek their Messiah. They continued to pray he would come soon. Every young girl prayed she would be the mother of their savior and king.

God’s people never gave up their search for the Messiah. They knew God would keep His promise of deliverance from their oppressors. They knew He would put someone from David’s lineage on the throne and rescue them. They knew God made a promise He would not break. They knew God could not fail and could not break His covenant. They knew God would do what He said He would even though they didn’t keep their side of the bargain. They knew God.

Yet He remained silent. They waited.

It makes me think back to Abraham who waited 25 years for the son God promised him. Joseph waited 22 years in prison for the position that would save his family from starvation. David waits 15 years from the time Samuel anoints him as the next king before he takes his position on the throne for two of the twelve tribes, and another 7 before he is accepted as king of all twelve tribes.

Today we have a problem waiting on God. We think having to wait more than three seconds for a web page to load is unacceptable and complain to our Internet carrier. We think waiting in line for more than five minutes to get our fast food is too long and demand more lines be opened. We complain to the grocer when our favorite vegetable is out of season and demand he figure out how to get it from a greenhouse that produces year round. We complain stop lights are too long. Commercials are too long. Traffic is too slow. Promotions and raises are too slow.

Think about Abraham and Joseph and David and those who heard Malachi’s message. They all waited almost a lifetime to see their promises unfold and even then, none of them saw the complete fulfillment of what God told them would happen to their descendants and their nation.

So what does it mean for us? You know that son or daughter you’ve been praying for their salvation? Keep at it. God thinks in terms of eternity. That neighbor you’d like to see come to know Jesus? Keep praying and sharing God’s word. It may take a while, but God still works in His upper story to work His will in this world.

Worried about something going on in your life? God knows about it. Just keep following His laws and doing His will as best you know how. He is faithful. His timing doesn’t necessarily coincide with our timing, but His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Remember we cannot see around the bend in our lower story, but God sees perfectly in His upper story. Look up and know God is always at work for good for those who love Him and love people.

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.

Feb 5, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 20; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 128 through 134

This week our readings will take us to the story of Hadassah, an orphaned girl who was exiled with many of the other Jews under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. You may not remember that name, but you probably remember her by her other name, Esther. She became queen after what might be the strangest beauty pageant ever recorded.

King Xerxes didn’t like his first wife’s refusal to obey and has her ousted from the throne. His advisors gather all the beautiful young virgins from around the country to find the king a new queen. Each goes through twelve months of beauty treatments before they see the king and then he sleeps with each one to decide which one he likes best. We frown on that kind of activity in this country, but that’s how the king decided to choose a wife and fill his harem with concubines.

Only if the king like you, did the concubine ever see the king again. Well, as you can imagine the rest of the story, the king not only liked Esther, but made her his queen. But like Paul Harvey, there is the rest of the story. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, discovers a plot to kill the king and lets Esther in on the secret so the plot can be thwarted. The assassins are discovered and the king writes the event in his memoirs.

The king’s chief advisor, prime minister, chief of staff, or whatever title you want to give him, Haman has this thing about Jews and absolutely despises them. So he gets the king to write a decree to let anyone who wants kill all the Jews in their city on a particular day. But now the rest of the story.

The king can’t sleep one night and reads his memoirs and hears the story of the assassination attempt. He asked Haman, his advisor what kind of honor should be given to someone who does something extraordinary for the king. Haman, of course, thinks the king must be talking about him so he lays it on thick. But the king is talking about Mordecai and tells Haman to personally carry out all the things Haman expected the king to do for him. How embarrassing!

Esther, the queen, is also a Jew. Mordecai convinces her to go to the king and ask for mercy for the Jews because of the slaughter that is about take place because of Haman’s trickery. Esther invites the king and Haman to dinner to explain the plight and Haman begs for mercy from the queen. Well, the king sees Haman falling all over his queen and gets the wrong idea. He doesn’t know he’s begging for mercy, he thinks he’s begging for something else and immediately has him taken to the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai. And Esther convinces the king to not only let the Jews defend themselves, but to destroy their enemies in those same cities where the decree went out.

What a story. But it’s interesting that God’s name is not mentioned a single time in the whole book of Esther. We see His upper story at work all throughout the interweaving of the plot, but His name is nowhere to be found. I’ll come back to that in a minute. First, I want to share what I think is one of the most important verses in the book of Esther. It’s found in chapter 4 verse 14. “...Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.”

Have you ever wondered why you are in the position you are in today? Maybe you think it’s a good position or maybe you think it’s not so good. But who knows? Maybe you are there for just a time like this. David was the youngest of seven. He should not have been the one chosen as king according to all the traditions of the time. He was doing the worst of the jobs in the family, tending the sheep on the hillsides. But he was faithful and became the king by which all the other kings of Israel were judged. Who knows?

Abraham was just another member of the tribe in Ur trying to survive in a harsh world that took ounce of energy and knowhow just to get by. But God told him to uproot his family to go somewhere he’d never been so He could make a great nation out of him. Who knows?

Personally, I was a medical plans officer trying to figure out how to get medical support to an army spread across hundreds of miles in battle formations we had never done before. God gave me a dream and Army medical doctrine changed because it. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved on the battlefield because of that dream. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in the position you are in for a time just like this.

Maybe you’re in a tough situation at work that just seems impossible. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in that position for God to use you in some remarkable way to make a difference for your boss or your co-workers to get through that impossible situation. Maybe He wants others to see His grace through your reactions to the situations at hand.

Maybe you’re facing some illness or the loss of a loved one. God doesn’t do bad things to us, but He does allow life to happen and who knows? It is possible that He allowed those things to come your way for a time just like this. We live in a sinful, evil time. We don’t hear much about God and how He works outside of the walls of our churches and synagogues. But the world is hungry to know there is something out there besides the evil and death and destruction that plays across the news channels every day.

The world needs to know there is hope in the chaotic environs of the everyday life we find ourselves facing each time we wake up. The world needs to see joy instead of sorrow in the faces of believers because we have something to offer the world cannot. Jesus brings peace in the middle of the storms of life. He brings joy when it seems impossible to find any joy or happiness in life. Jesus brings order to the chaos around us. He brings life in the throes of death because we know there is a resurrection and there is hope in Him.

So back to the point about God not being mentioned in Esther. Why isn’t His name in the book? I think the writer of the book of Esther faced days like we face sometimes. As Purim approached, the day the Jews now celebrate as the day they defended themselves against their enemies, it was hard to see God in their lower story lives. The decree for their destruction had gone out. Their neighbors were allowed to kill them without recourse. They had no defense. Their prayers seemed to bounce off a brass ceiling. God didn’t seem to be anywhere around. They couldn’t see past the bend in the road. They couldn’t see the upper story God had planned for them.

We can get that way, too. We can get so caught up in our lower story that we forget that God can see panoramically and knows what we cannot know. He can see beyond the bend in the road and knows the bright future He has prepared for us. We just need to look up and obey His commands. Follow Him and know He is at work in His upper story to deliver us just as He did Esther and Mordecai and the rest of His people from the hands of their enemies. We can trust Him with all we have and all we are because He is God and we are not. He is always working for good for those that love Him and work according to His purposes.

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