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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: May, 2018

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

May 28, 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

What kind of Goliath do you face in your life? For the next few weeks i want us to explore some ways to defeat that giant that seems so indestructible.

Everyone has a Goliath or two in their life. Something that just looks bigger than life and an obstacle to that life of peace and internal freedom they seek. Maybe it’s a job that seems overwhelming or a boss that stays on your case every single day. Or maybe it’s a coworker that just bugs the daylights out of you and won’t take the hint to stay away. Maybe it’s a growing debt and it seems the light at the end of the tunnel is just the light from an on rushing freight train. Maybe your Goliath is some health issue that doesn’t go away. Constant pain, the big “C” word, cancer, or some other disease that limits your activity in some way. Maybe you have relationship problems in your home that you just can’t solve and your Goliath stands in that valley taunting you to no end.

There exists another Goliath that most people have, too, that we don’t readily acknowledge. We all have habits, addictions, that plague us. Things we can’t seem to stop no matter how hard we try. Your addiction may not be alcohol or drugs or pornography or one of those top five destructive things we talk about. But your addiction might be something as simple, but subtly destructive like television or some sport or eating certain foods or frequenting certain places. Things you know are harmful to your wellbeing, but you just can’t stop. You want to get away from the habit that you know drives a wedge between you and those you love and a wedge between you and God.

Everyone has something. None of us are exempt because we all inherited Adam’s seed. If nothing else, we all inherited that sin habit. We are born addicted to sin just like those babies you hear about who are addicted to drugs because of their mothers drug habits during her pregnancy. The poor kids need their fix as soon as they take their first breath and require the same rehab other users require.

So now that we recognize the problem that we all have addictive behaviors that we need to rid ourselves, what do we do about it? How do we defeat those Goliaths in our life? What can we do to overcome and stay “clean” of the things that just seem impossible to control.

We’ll look at several things to consider in the next few podcasts. But first things first. You cannot defeat your Goliath alone. You need others to help you conquer that thing slapping you in the face. The first one in your list of helpers is God.

Go back to the story of David and Goliath and listen to David’s words to Saul and Goliath. Saul questioned David’s ability to fight Goliath and David answered, “...The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Then when he faced Goliath and his taunting, David answered with these words, “...This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and i’ll strike you down and cut off your head.”

David knew in all those situations he wasn’t the one winning the battle. It was God who protected him and defeated the lion and the bear. And David knew God would defeat this giant of a man. The same is true of your Goliath. You cannot stand against that giant alone, but no one and no thing is bigger, better, stronger than God. When he is in the battle, he wins. Period.

So first, go wherever God is. Make sure you keep him close and ask for his help when facing your giants. The is the first source of strength and can help rid you of the thing that holds you back from the life he wants you to enjoy.

Next, you need a mentor who can help you through those tough times. Someone you can trust to pour your heart out and admit you have the habit, the addiction you need to shed. That mentor may have gone through the same thing you are facing, but at least has gone through some troubled times and can give sage advice on how to deal with your Goliath. A good mentor will also hold you accountable for your behavior, actions, and attitude. He will ask pointed questions and watch your life to keep you on a steady road.

A good mentor will help guide you through the seasons of life and challenge you to grow in all areas of life. As such, you will probably have more than one mentor. Each might be better equipped for a particular area in your life. Physical. Spiritual. Family relationships. Financial accountability. Everything where a giant resides needs someone who can help you through the pitfalls without being judgmental but rather being helpful and not afraid to point out your weaknesses in those areas.

It is also important to have a partner travel along the journey with you. This person will probably not be your mentor. You need someone who is struggling with habits and addictions just like you are. Someone you can challenge in a friendly competition to keep each other on track and grow together in your success.

Finally, you need a church. A Bible believing, scripture teaching congregation with small groups that study God’s word to apply its principles and precepts to daily living. Each of us need those small groups to grow. We need help in interpreting God’s word and applying it in today’s culture. Not to change it or assume some of God’s commands no longer apply to us, but some of the commands God gave were for a specific time and a specific purpose as he used his chosen people and some of the characters in it to show us who he is. Some of the scriptures, written in a specific culture must be applied in our culture in different ways. For instance, the laws concerning mold in a house no longer applies. We have other means to deal with mold because of the knowledge God has allowed us to gain through the centuries.

A church will help you grow and keep you accountable. It will help you in relationships and give you more relationships through brothers and sisters in Christ. It will help you know you are not alone in your struggles on this journey, but rather you will find that every church is filled with people addicted to sins of one sort or another who have been helped rid themselves of those addictions by the help of God’s spirit in them and the accountability to and encouragement others in the congregation of the church.

There you have the first keys to overcoming your Goliath. Never face him alone. Take with you God who will fight the battle with you. A mentor. A friend. A Christian congregation. These first tools will take you a long way in overcoming whatever stands in your way to defeating that giant that blocks your way to the fulfilling life God wants you to enjoy.

May 21, 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.

As hard as it is to live a life of integrity, because we have God’s help in doing so, we have a choice in living the life of integrity he desires of us. We might not think about that very often, but it’s true. In today’s society, it’s easy to blame someone or something else on our lack of integrity. We push back justify our behavior on poor parenting. We blame the lack of material goods in a house bordering on poverty in a materialistic world. We blame the violence and immorality that invades us in mind-numbing entertainment like television, movies, games, and more. We blame schools for not enforcing rules that should be set and enforced at home.

We blame anything and everything on our failure to maintain a life of integrity. Why? Because like most things in our life, we have a hard time accepting the fact that most often our failures are out fault. And the failure lies in the choices we made somewhere along the line. We just don’t want to believe that we can fail. So we pawn our mistakes, our behavior, our failure on someone else.

The problem with that approach, though, we never learn from our failure unless we take responsibility for it. We must figure out where we went wrong, fix it, and go from there. Doing everything we can not to repeat those same mistakes in the future. We will fail again? Most likely. No one is exempt from error. We all fail at one time or another at one task or another. We can’t help it. We are part of Adam’s race. He and Eve disobeyed God in that first garden and we inherited his inability to live the perfect life of integrity God desired of him and us.

But there is something we can do about it. First, we can ask God and the individuals we might have wronged for forgiveness. John wrote that when we confess our sins, he is ready, able, and just and will forgive our sins. But also wants to lead us to a life of righteousness, right living. That means we must make some hard choices at times. We must look temptations in the eye and say no. We must obey his commands despite the lure and attraction of the things the world might offer us if we yield to her demands.

We have a choice. I can choose to satisfy those base desires in unhealthy, unholy ways. I can choose to follow my selfish desires. I can choose to use other people for my gain. I can choose to hoard the things God has entrusted to me. I can choose to push the helpless and needy away when I have the means to give them hope. I can just to execute vengeance and justice instead of grace and mercy toward my enemies. I can choose the path I take.

I can choose my path, but I cannot choose what lies at the end of that path. I cannot choose the consequences of every choice I make whether good or bad. I cannot alter the natural outcome of the laws God gave us. Sure, he is a God of love and mercy, but that doesn’t mean he will stop the natural course of events that come to us as a result of our choices. We may still suffer the lasting effects of those seemingly insignificant choices we made in an hour of weakness.

So, how do I ensure I make the right choices along the way? How do I avoid the consequence that God set in place at the beginning of time? How do I stand up to the failures that I cause through my actions?

First,lean more on him. Go to God in both the good times and the bad. Pray earnestly when you’re in a time of smooth sailing. When you do, it will be easier to approach him when the going gets tough. You wouldn’t ask a complete stranger to help you with a personal, intimate problem, but you might ask a dear friend. Think about your relationship with God. If you only interact with him on Sunday mornings at church, why would he help? If you’re not his friend, why would he stop to give aid in your time of need? So in the good times, when everything is going well, be careful to give God the glory. Maintain a constant personal relationship with him. When you do, you’ll find he is willing and ready to give you the support you need and he will never leave you or forsake you. So keep your prayer life up.

Second, meditate on his word. What does that mean? Think about what you have read in scripture. Of course, that means you need to read scripture...every day. Maybe even several times a day. David said, “I will meditate on your word night and day. I will hide your word in my heart, so I might not sin against you.” If David tells us a dozen times to meditate on God’s word and deeds, maybe we should pay attention and do just that. Read the Bible. Let it soak into your everyday life. Don’t let it be one of those tomes that gathers dust on a table. Let God speak to you through his word. He gives good advice in those 66 books if we would just listen to him and do what he tells us to do.

Third, before making life-changing decisions, stop and think. It’s surprising how often we just act without thinking about the second and third order affects our choices make on us or those around us. Most of the time it isn’t too hard to think about the consequences our actions will create. We just need to step back for a second and use that gray matter that sits inside our skull. Tragically, we too often just act and think about it after the fact when it’s too late to retract our action. Once done, it’s done. Things have been set in motion and the consequences are set whether we like them or not.

Then while we’re on this pause before making a decision, when possible and practical, seek the advice of a mentor. Most of the time, the decision you are about to make has been made before. It is truly amazing the number of times we repeat the mistakes of others because we fail to heed their warnings. Just take a moment to listen to those who have gone before you. Listen to their counsel. Understand they have your best in mind. If they have traveled that road before you, they can help you avoid the pitfalls and the suffering they may have suffered because of choice they would make differently if given the chance. Remember, two heads are better than one.

We’re back to where we began today. Integrity involves choice. You can be a person of integrity. You can choose that life. It will take God’s help. We can not do it alone. But we can choose to let him walk beside us and keep us on the right path. As we go back to our original definition a few weeks ago, integrity is about unity, oneness, cohesion. When we choose with God in mind, we draw closer to him. We we choose with our selfish desires in mind, we drive a wedge between us and him.

Think about the choices you will make today. Stand as Joshua did with his declaration at the top of your priorities, “...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is always a choice. And God lets you make it at every crossroad of life. Choose today whom you will serve.

May 14, 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.

The subject of today’s podcast includes two terms that are mutually exclusive. Integrity and duplicity. The two can not coexist in the same person. We try awfully hard these days. We try to make things fit the way we want them to fit. We want what we think is best for us regardless what it might do to someone else. We want what we want and we want it now. But that’s not how integrity works.

Solomon said in Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

So what exactly am I talking about when I talk about duplicity in the context of integrity? We’ve already determined that integrity is about oneness with our Creator. It’s about his truth, not anyone else’s. Integrity isn’t defined by our norms, but by God’s. We’ve said integrity requires accountability and how important a partner and mentor can be in helping us stay on track, keeping us from straying from the path we’ve set out on.

Duplicity is defined as deceitfulness or double-dealing. It comes into play in this setting when we talk about integrity but then don’t live up to what we say. It reminds me of a public service announcement that was aired on the Armed Forces Network when I was stationed in Germany several years ago. The camera panned on a soldier called to his home because his teenage son had been caught shoplifting. The soldier did a pretty good job of chewing out his son, telling him how wrong it was to steal. How he had learned in church that was one of the Ten Commandments God gave us. He asked how in the world he could stoop so low as to steal something that didn’t belong to him.

All the while the soldier carried on this conversation with his wayward son, the camera moved position and drew the lens back to focus on a handful of black skillcraft pens laying on the soldiers desk at home. Those of you who have worked in the government know what that means. No one had those black skillcraft ballpoint pens except Uncle Sam and he bought hundreds of thousands of them. And why did the government buy so many? Because people like that soldier stole them from their offices.

You might think to yourself, taking a pen from my employer isn’t such a big deal. And maybe one pen isn’t. At that time they were about $1.50 a dozen. But this soldier along with probably 50% of the rest of the 5 million people employed by the federal government had two or three or more of those pens at home. If my math is right, that’s about $625,000 of theft. That’s a well organized gang conducting grand larceny. You probably never thought of it that way, but someone had to pay for that pen or pencil or notebook or pad of paper or whatever it is you might bring home for personal use. Is that duplicity? You bet.

Or how about that cell phone ding to remind you of an email or a facebook message that you just have to answer at work? Or the website you need to explore for just a few minutes at the office. Or a bill you need to pay from there because your internet speeds at home are so slow? Does your employer want to pay you for being completely unproductive when you’re supposed to be working for her? Stealing part of your paycheck by failing to give that time to your employer as you agreed when you were hired is called duplicity, deceitfulness, double-dealing. It certainly isn’t integrity.

Am I saying that I am perfect in these area? No. If you scoured my house, you’d probably find one of those long lost skillcraft pens in a box in the garage. And to be honest, once in a while I’ll answer or make a personal call or see a personal email pop up on my screen and answer it while I’m supposed to be doing something else. But I try to stay very conscious of my time and what I do with the equipment and supplies entrusted to me. I learned because of those skillcraft pens that I kept having to buy out of my meager budget as a company commander in the army almost forty years ago how just one innocent pen can suddenly add up to dozens, then hundreds, the thousands. And no one really notices until someone at the top of the chain coughs because more than half a million dollars in black government pens have gone missing.

It’s not that big a deal. Except it’s duplicious. It’s no big thing. Except it breaks commandment number eight. It’s nothing really. Except God says don’t do it. No one cares. Except it means your integrity is at stake.

Our society is trying hard to turn all these things into various shades of gray. Just a pen. Just a pad of paper. Just a box of paper clips. Just a few copies for my kid’s school work. Just a few messages during the day. Just a little me time during my work hours. Just a little here and just a little there. No big deal. No harm done.

The latest figure I could get comes from 2012, so this data is six years old and has only gotten worse since then. But listen to some of these facts from six years ago. 60% of workers spend at least some time on social media during work hours. The average college student in 2012 spent 3 hours on facebook and two hours studying. Which explains why college students who use facebook regularly have a GPA a full point lower than those who don’t.

In the US that year, collectively we spent 12,207,423,487 hours on social media. Twice as much time on social media as in any form of exercise. 10% of us spend more time on social media than we do at work and 60% of us connect with our social media at work. Workers are interrupted every 10.5 minutes by things like twitter, IM’s and facebook. Then studies show it takes 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. No one can really multitask by the way. Your brain will only let you do one thing at a time. If you think you’re multitasking, you’re fooling yourself and turning out poorer quality work that you are able.

So what did all that cost? When you do the 2012 math, social media cost companies almost $4500 per employee. And it cost the US economy about $650 billion. But it’s just one message, right? It doesn’t hurt anything? It’s only a few minutes, right? No one cares. It’s not like I don’t get my job done, so I can do this on the sly, right? Take a look at the number once more. The social media mafia successfully stole $650 billion dollars from everyone’s pocket.

Why everyone’s pocket and not just those C-suite executives? Because those C-suite executives didn’t have the money to give employees the raises they  might have been able to give otherwise. They didn’t have the money to improve health benefits. They didn’t have the money to hire new employees. They didn’t have the money to build new facilities or new plants. $650 billion can do a lot of stuff, and collectively in the workplace...How did Solomon put it? “... the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Integrity and duplicity can not exist in the same person. But we need God’s help to maintain our integrity. The world makes everything shades of gray instead of God’s black and white. The problem is that the world won’t be our judge when Jesus returns. God set the rules and God will judge us based on his rules. Not the world’s. Not ours. His. So how is your integrity meter running today?

May 7, 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.

Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.

We started talking about integrity last week, defining real integrity as walking in unity with God. Following his purpose and plan rather than our own. Letting God determine what is true and right and good rather than letting society or even our own conscience determine the moral norms we should follow.

Today, I’d like us to consider a passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 4 as we think about our integrity. Solomon said this: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

You might ask, “What does that have to do with integrity?”

I’d answer, “Everything.” You see, we need a good friend to keep us accountable. Particularly in this day and age, and in our society in which it seems that what is right is only what I think is right for me. We live in a time when we are always asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” Instead of asking what God would have us do in the same circumstance.

When Solomon wrote these words, I’m not sure he had just the physical realm in mind. As we think about those verses, they apply equally to our spiritual lives, as well. Let’s take a look at them again. Two have a good return for their labor. You’ll remember that when Jesus sent the disciples out across the countryside to spread the message that the kingdom of God was at hand. He didn’t send them as single preachers. He sent them in pairs. Why? Because of this verse.

Two have a good return on their labor. Two reinforce each other. Two help each other from getting discouraged when tasks seem insurmountable. Two provide a little competition to each other to get things done faster and better. Two help each other see tasks from different perspectives and find solutions to problems that one alone would not see. It’s like someone writing letters in the sand and depending on which side of the letters you’re standing on, you might read the word mom or you might see the word wow. Both are right from your perspective. But together you can pick the one that makes the most sense for the problem at hand.

Climbers know you never climb alone because of that second axiom. If a piton slips out of place or a rope breaks or a misstep causes an injury in mountainous terrain, without help, a single climber might be doomed. With two, there is hope of rescue. The same is true of diving and other sports in which one slip could cause catastrophic results.

Those who live in the northern most climates understand the importance of maintaining body temperatures and the best way to warm up someone who has been exposed to the frigid elements of those arctic temperatures is to climb into a sleeping bag with them. Body spooned against body to raise the temperature of an exposure victim works when medical facilities are not readily available. But alone in that same sleeping bag, the hypothermic individual body temperature will rise very slowly if at all because there is nothing inside the bag to raise the temperature. Alone, they will continue to fight the lower core temperature for hours before the body can recover on its own, if at all.

Defense is the next one. I know you’ve heard the term, “I’ve got your back.” That’s what it's all about. Alone, the enemy can come from behind and you’d never see him. But with two, your back is covered. The enemy can’t slip in. Your friend is right there with you.

And a cord of three strands? It’s the difference of wrapping a single thread around your hands and breaking it versus wrapping that same thread around your hands several times. Now it gets pretty tough to break if you can break it at all. The additional rounds of that thin thread add the extra strength that makes the “cord” stronger than you.

Now do you see how all those fit with our spiritual fight.?

In our society where integrity can slip away so easily because of the situational ethics, the sliding morality, the growing sense that right is whatever is right in your own eyes. We need someone to help us maintain our integrity. We need an accountability partner. We need someone who will walk along beside us who is not afraid to tell us like it is and keep us on the path of God’s truth, not our own.

When we find that accountability partner, we can help each other in our labor. We can grow in our faith and in our relationships with God and man because we have nothing to hide. We live a life of integrity which means we stay above the filth and lies that have become the norm for so many in our society.

When we find that accountability partner, we can help each other up when we fall. None of us are perfect. We will falter from time to time. We do not that helping hand to reach out and help us get up and get back on the path of truth and rightness and integrity. We need someone who will stay with us during those times and lift us up with a helping hand, not point fingers at us and walk away. But at the same time, that accountability partner will not condone the bad behavior. He will not allow you to stay on a path of destruction. A good accountability partner will be just that, one who holds you accountable for your actions and your words and your attitudes.

When we find that accountability partner, we will find one who challenges us and we will challenge them with new insights into God’s word. We will grow together on the journey before us. We will keep each other from getting cold in our faith. We will not let each other become lukewarm in our attitude toward God and his plan like the church at Laodicea. We will warm each other in our spiritual lives by constantly challenging each other to become more like Christ through the interaction we have with each other as partners, accountable to watch each others integrity quotient.

As accountability partners, we can help defend each other in the faith. Satan knows our weaknesses. A good accountability partner should too. But that means we must open up to them and share those points in our life where we are most weak. Then our partner can come along beside us and watch our back. He can watch where we go, observe what we do, help us to fight the enemy by helping us maintain our integrity by escaping from those temptations in the first place. A good accountability partner will help us change the habits that put us in places and situations that could compromise our integrity, our oneness with God.

What does the cord with three strands mean? It means I can’t get through this spiritual journey alone. I know churches are filled with hypocrites. I know there are evil people in churches. I know not everyone who has their name on a membership role or who teaches a Sunday School class is a model Christian or even a Christian at all. But some of the people in church are good solid followers of Jesus Christ. Some are worth emulating. Some are worthy of watching and learning from their lives.

Churches are like hospitals for sinners. They should be full of sinners. They should be filled with evil people seeking a way to find peace and forgiveness in their lives. And some of those leaders who you point to that don’t fit your definition of Christian? Well, they are in the right place, too. Where else can they hope to find Christ but in a sinner’s clinic?

We still can’t make it alone. We need people around us to help us on this spiritual journey. If you don’t like the church you’re in, find one you can worship in. Find one that doesn’t seem so hypocritical. Find one that preaches and teaches God’s word, not the latest news item. Find a church with people who are struggling with life’s questions the same way you are. I pass at least a dozen churches on the way to mine. Surely, some church around you fits the needs you have of finding a Bible believing church. Go there. Find an accountability partner. Grow together in a life of integrity.

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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