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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: June, 2018

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Jun 18, 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.

We’ve been talking about Goliaths in our life the last few weeks. We’ve discovered everyone has giants in their lives at some time or other. We’ve learned we should not face them alone, but always face them with God by your side and with a friend, a mentor, a praying church when you can. We discussed the fact that often fear keeps us from fighting that Goliath in our path and we must push through that fear to face it head on. We also discussed the fact that we often fail to face those giants in life because we are afraid that when we get rid of those giants in our life, we will be rejected by those around us. None of these are healthy, but they exist nonetheless and keep us attacking that thing that destroys our joy and freedom in Christ that we long for.

Today we continue that theme with another issue that keeps us from facing those giants that seems to overwhelm us, whatever they might be. Whether some addiction, some task you think God has laid out for you, some apology or act of forgiveness you know you should make, some act of kindness you should demonstrate. Whatever that giant might be in your life, let’s look at another reason we today we just don’t want to face that bully in the valley.

What is it that gets in our way? Sometimes it’s comfort. Now that might sound a little ridiculous at first, but stop and think about it for a few minutes. It’s hard to see how giants that you want to get rid of and comfort go together but let’s go back and look at the story again. Goliath came out into the Valley of Elah every morning and taunted Saul’s army. His men heard the challenge. They knew the reputation of this beast. They saw his stature. He stood some nine feet tall and his spear looked like the trunk of a tree. No one wanted to go down into that valley and face him.

What did Saul’s soldiers do instead? They sat by their fires and filled their bellies with food. They kicked back in their tents and took a nap. They sat around sharpening their spears and shining their armor. They got comfortable around the camp because they didn’t want to go into the valley to fight. Fighting meant using muscles they weren’t used to using. Fighting meant getting out of their tents and leaving their campfires. Fighting meant facing these professional warriors. Fighting meant risking pain and death.

They were comfortable where they were. They were comfortable just sizing up the enemy on the other side of the valley. As long as the Philistines stayed on their side of the valley and Goliath just keep shouting at them, they were okay with that. As long as the armies didn’t have to clash in the middle of the battlefield, they were content to stay where they were. It wasn’t as nice as their bed at home. The food wasn’t home cooked and they sometimes were a little wet and cold. They didn’t get to see their wives and kids much. Life wasn’t what they would like it to be, but that was okay. They could put up with the comfort of the camp compared to the unknown discomfort of the battlefield.

There is a old saying that goes something like this: “People will keep the devil they know before they will accept the angel they don’t know.”

What does that mean? It means we just don’t like change. It’s the problem the Israelites faced in that valley. It’s the problem we sometimes face when we take on the Goliaths in our lives. It’s the problem we must overcome if we are going to get rid of those habits and challenges and giants that plague us. We have to accept the fact that change must happen and whether or not we like change, we must embrace it if we are going to face those giants in life. We have to recognize the damages that devils keep doing and know that there are angels out there that are anxious to help us find a better way.

Part of our problem with these comfortable habits, these Goliaths that plague us comes from something akin to muscle memory. We get so use to something that we must train our bodies and mind to do something different. That muscle memory reflex happens so easily and is so difficult to change. It becomes ingrained in our subconscious so we are often not even aware that it is there. Take for instance your driving skills. When you first got behind the wheel of a car, it was probably a horrifying experience. How do you coordinate all the movements you have to make with your hands, feet, head, eyes, virtually every part of your body to make those rapid movements required to operate that 3,000 pound monster?

But after a couple of months you’re not even thinking about it. Feet find the accelerator and brake pedals without thinking. There are no jerking motions when you start and stop any more. You don’t have to look to see where the turn signal is, you just flip it at the appropriate time and don’t even think about when and how much to turn the steering wheel to make the turn in to the appropriate lane of traffic. Merging into traffic, parking into spaces in the parking lot, backing out of the driveway, all those things that seemed like nightmares the first few times in those early days of driving are now routine. You don’t have to think about them. You even carry on conversations with those in the car with you as you make all those tiny maneuvers because you’ve trained your muscles to do them almost without thinking.

You can think of hundreds of those kinds of muscle memory things you do every day without thinking. I would venture to guess when you brush your teeth, you start at the same side at the same spot every time. You probably put your first sock on the same foot every day. You more than likely put the same foot in your pants first almost every time. I would guess you wash and dry your body in the same pattern every time you bathe.

The same is true for all of us. We build these patterns in our behaviors and don’t even think about them after a while. It’s why bad habits are so hard to break. They become ingrained muscle movements that just happen. That’s one of the reason it is so hard for long term smokers to break the habit. It’s not just the nicotine, although the drug is extremely addictive in its own right. But it is also about the muscle memory developed over time. You eat a meal, a cigarette appears in your hand. You get into a car, you light up. You finish a project, a flame touches the end of that paper stick. All those cues that have told your body to make those movements must be relearned and replaced with something else.

It is much more difficult to unlearn muscle memory and relearn something that it is to learn it the first time. The brain is such a complex organ, more capable of storing and sorting memories than any computer. And unless there is some sort of trauma to the brain, that memory is there...forever. Stored away, never overwritten. Never erased. Always available for recall. So why is an alcoholic always a recovering alcoholic? For just that reason. The memory never goes away. They muscle memory is always there. Don’t get me wrong, change can happen. But habits must always be replaced with equally strong habits. You just have to make them good  habits instead of bad. The better angel out there. The uncomfortable change. The unknown that we know must be better but our minds and bodies are afraid to try because of the comfort of our habits no matter how bad they are.

So, as we close today and think about the Goliaths in our lives, those habits that are out of control that we wish to change. The giants that we face that seem to just envelop us. Think about the muscle memory we’ve discussed and the comfort we must push away from if we really want to change. When we face the giants, we will be uncomfortable for a time. When we get into the valley with those things that seem to overwhelm us everyday, we will find our bodies wanting to revert back to old patterns and old ways, but we can overcome with God’s help and sometimes the help of a friend. Remember he will never leave us or forsake us. He will fight our battles for us, but he expects us to carry the shield into the battleground.

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 Bible based teaching. 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.

Jun 11, 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 addictive behaviors do you hang on to because you think others think poorly of you? Let’s talk about that today.

Many of you know my wife is a registered nurse. She often watches programs, videos, and podcasts that might sound a little weird to the average person. For instance, I often find her watching a pimple popping doctor. Of course, these aren’t ordinary pimples. They are the ones that are deep rooted and need minor surgery to get to the root of them. Yuck! Not good viewing for late snack entertainment or for the squeamish.

And sometimes she watches a program that involves some people that you wonder how in the world they got into the circumstances they did. The program follows patients of a Houston doctor that tip the scale at 600 pounds or more. When you first see some of these folks you get a little mad at them and blame them for their condition. After a while you discover it’s not them. At that weight, they can no longer lift themself from the bed or get through the door of their room. The only way they can get the food that is gradually killing them is for someone to bring it to them.

Among alcoholics and drug abusers we have a term for that person. They are titled co-dependent of the person with the problem. The truth is that both the addicted person and the person feeding the habit both have a problem. For these 600 pound people, those last couple of hundred pounds come only because someone else provides the calories to them. Someone else provides the very thing that shortens their life.

So why do both of these groups, the addict and the codependent do what they do? Every single one has said they don’t want to be that way. Every single one has declared they want to lose the weight. They don’t want to eat so much or they don’t want to deliver so much food to the person in the bed. Every one of them say they want help to get the morbidly obese person back to a better state of health and get them up and moving on their own again.

But every one of them at first, fail to recognize their problem doesn’t start with the consumption of calories. The overeating is just an expression of a much deeper problem. The doctor who treats these men and women always insists on some pretty intense counseling before he will consider gastric bypass surgery to curb the appetite of the morbidly obese and try to bring their weight back to a level which will not mean certain death within months.

As part of the program, the individuals let us take a peek into their private lives and invariably we find they have a pretty high dislike for themselves and assume everyone else feels the same about them. They feel alone in the world. They tell themselves the mantra, “No one loves me.” a thousand times a day. When you tell yourself those negative thoughts enough, you begin to believe them. And for these morbidly obese individuals, their escape from the self loathing dialog is in food. Then because the codependent partner or child doesn’t want them to feel that they are unloved, they give them what they want...more food. It becomes a vicious cycle until before long the individual finds they cannot move themselves off the bed and they know they are dying by their own habits.

My heart goes out to these individuals, but they are not alone in their negative self-talk. They escape is more obvious than some because they wear their escape in the form of added pounds. But thousands upon thousands have that same conversation with themselves every day. “No one loves me. I’m all alone in the world and no one cares.” And they feed that negative emotion with some dangerous addiction that pushes them to believe their lie more each day.

Satan does a great job of putting blinders on us so we can’t see what’s really going on around us. He puts roadblocks in our path and puts the right negative people in front of us or maybe even the right positive people to make us feel even worse about ourselves. “If I could only be happy like that person.” Ever been there? I expect you have at some point in your life. It is one of the world’s greatest lies.

Saul’s soldiers felt that way in the Valley of Elah, Death Valley. Goliath came out every day to tell them how worthless they were. “Lazy. Cowards. Can’t fight. Dung heaps wasting good air. Unbelievers can’t even trust your own God to rescue you.” Forty days he came out telling them the same thing. They began to believe it of themselves. A friend of mine calls it “stinkin’ thinkin’”. She is very right.

So what can we do about it? How can we get past Goliath and his negative taunts rolling around in our head when the voice sounds just like ours? Because we would certainly tell ourselves the truth, right? How do we turn those thoughts around and begin to get an edge on that giant to we can win against him?

First, remember who made you. God is the creator of all things. He made you. As much as science would like to say you are just the conglomeration of some biological process. We haven’t been able to come close to creating life. That’s God’s job and he does it very well. By the way, if you go back and read Genesis Chapter 1, you won’t find a single time in the creation story where God says, “Oops, I made a mistake with that one.” He declared everything he made as good. Everything. So that means he didn’t make a mistake with you either. God created you to be you and he did it well.

Second, if God says everything he created is good, who are we to argue with him? How can we turn around and say, “Hey God, you got this one wrong.” Not possible. He did it right and you are included in that creativity he started those uncountable years ago.

Third, with those two things in mind, write down a positive mantra for yourself. Something as simple as “God makes all things well and I’m one of those things he made.” Then when the stinkin’ thinkin’ starts to rear its ugly head, turn it on its ear with that mantra. Whether you want to believe it or not isn’t the point when you start. Just say it. Out loud or in your head, say it. Focus on it. Believe it. Get the stinkin’ thinkin’ out of your head by pushing it away with that positive mantra. Let that be your release instead of whatever habit you have been using to pacify yourself when the “woe is me” thoughts creep in.

Will this positive thinking cure all your ills, habits, and addictions? Not by itself, but it’s a start. At least it gets that noisy negative guy pushed into the recesses of your mind for a while so you get a break. And who knows, with some positive reinforcement and God on your side, Goliath doesn’t stand a chance.

Jun 4, 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.

Today we want to talk about another obstacle in the way of overcoming those giants in our lives. Last week we discovered you should never try to tackle Goliath alone, but go into the valley with God by your side. It’s also good to have a mentor, a friend, and a church along with you to conquer those giants that come your way.

There is an old saying that goes something like this, “People are more comfortable with the devil they know than with the angel they don’t know.” What does it mean? People will stay in a bad situation, stick with bad habits, continue down the same destructive path because they are comfortable with it. Even though they see what might be a better way, they still hold on to what they know instead of taking a chance with something they don’t know. It’s pretty amazing just how hard we push against change in our lives.

That was true of those warriors in the Valley of Elah who listen to the Philistine, Goliath, challenge them each day. For forty days, Goliath marched down the hillside and stood in the valley with his armor bearers. He dared anyone to come fight him. The Israeli warrior cowered in their tents. They knew Goliath’s reputation and feared what would happen to them if they went into that valley. It was called “Death Valley” for a reason. They all just knew that if you went into that place, you wouldn’t come out again.

Fear of the unknown or fear trapped in their imagination captured them and froze their feet to the ground. They listened to that giant of a man roar his blasphemies against God and did nothing. They were afraid. They pictured themselves looking up into the eyes of that nine foot monster and couldn’t see their blood turned to ice. Who could possibly fight this guy?

But something happened after 40 days of the same old pattern. Goliath comes out, shouts his challenge, the Israelite warriors hide behind anything they can find, Goliath finally gets tired of waiting, and he climbs back up the hillside to wait until the next morning to do it all over again. The soldiers got used to the ritual and probably got to the point that when they saw the first glimmer of sunlight reflecting off Goliath’s helmet from the top of the hill, they hightailed it to the back forty to wait until he left. Fear.

In some ways you can’t blame them, I guess. I know I wouldn’t want to take on a nine foot monster in a fighting match. He was trained as a warrior. He had the reach, the weapons, every advantage you could think of except one. God was on David’s side.

So Jesse’s youngest son sees what’s going on. He’s too young to join the army. He’s only there to deliver some lunch to his brothers. Get a little news to take back home so his mom and dad will know their kids are still alive and doing well against their lifelong enemies, the Philistines. David went with no intention of joining the fight. He was just a shepherd. All he had was a sling. Coming from Bethlehem, he was pretty good with it, but still… A sling against a spear doesn’t sound like very good odds.

Was David afraid? You know, I want to think he had a few butterflies in his stomach as he reached into that stream and pulled out five stones. David knew God was with him, though. David knew how to use that sling. Elsewhere in God’s word, it tells us that the Benjamites could hit a hair with one of those slings. That’s pretty good. And considering that David could attack Goliath from the length of a football field with his sling and he had to be closer to the 20 yard line for Goliath’s spear to be as effective a weapon, David had a little bit of an edge from a distance. He had to hit Goliath in the space around his eyes, though. Everything else would be covered and the stone would bruise, but not kill on impact.

David marches out onto the field after refusing to take Saul’s armor. We sometimes think David was a puny little kid since the Bible tells us Saul’s armor didn’t fit. That’s not the picture I get of David, though. He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands. I think the armor didn’t fit because Saul was head and shoulders taller than any of the other men present at his coronation. Saul stood out in a crowd. His armor was too big for everyone there.

The most important part of this story in relation to Goliath and fear, though, is that whatever fear David might have had as he looked at this monster of a man, he set it aside and trusted God. David believed God would help him vindicate his name against the blasphemous outpouring that came from this heathen. David believed God could take his fear and turn it into enough adrenaline to help him conquer this undefeated champion of his enemies. He pushed past the fear of what he knew and dared to launch into the unknown.

That’s exactly what we have to do with the Goliaths we face in our life. I don’t know what your Goliath is, but I expect you are like 99% of everyone else who faces Goliath. I expect there is that little bit of fear that asks what happens when I let go of this and let God have it? What will God ask of me? What will happen? How will my life change? What will other people think? What if God can’t break through the problem? (Yeah, right! Let me tell you, it’s not God that can’t fix it. He’s God! We are the problem, not him!)

The best way to attack those giants in our life is to act just like David. Don’t let those giants taunt you with their blasphemy. You will undoubtedly hear some voice in your head tell you that you can’t win the battle. It’s too hard. You can’t possibly overcome. You will hear the same tired excuses Goliath yelled at the Israelites across that Death Valley. But David refused to listen to Goliath. He refused to give in to his fear. He refused to let the giant dictate his moves, but instead listened to the voice of God.

I think it was God that prompted him to pick up five stones instead of one. He only needed one to defeat Goliath. David knew that and God knew it. So why five? Finish reading the stories of David’s battles and you’ll find Goliath had four brothers. David was ready to take on all of them if necessary. Fear. Sure. Enough to stop him from doing what God told him to do? No way. David knew God was bigger than any problem or any giant he came against. He was ready.

Are there times you will be afraid? You are not human if you don’t experience that emotion every so often. But we don’t have to let it cripple us. We can remember that God is for us, so who can be against us. Nothing can defeat us, because nothing can defeat him. He proved it a couple of millennium ago when he decided he didn’t want to stay dead. We can borrow his strength and his power to push through the fear the world tries to stir up and we can win against our Goliaths. Be like David today.

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