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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: July, 2018

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Richard

Jul 16, 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.

For the next few weeks we will look at the fight we are in. If you don’t feel like you’re in a fight for your live, be careful. You might be in the enemies clutches. Remember, the devil is like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. If you’re not on his menu, you might already be in his digestive track. If you’re a Christian, you should be up to your eyeballs in the fight.

I read a good example of what we are up against a few days ago. If you’re standing on the 20 yard line of a football field and you’re the only one on the field, it’s pretty easy to run into the opposite end zone and score an unopposed touchdown.

But change to picture a little. Now you’re that same halfback and the quarterback passes that football to you. In front of you are eleven really big men with one thing on their mind. Crush the guy with the ball. I’m 5’9”, 185 pounds, and 64 years old. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it back to the line of scrimmage without a few broken bones and a probable concussion. I don’t know what kind of shape you’re in, but can imagine that since less than one percent of all the high school football players can make it into the pros, you would probably not make it to the line of scrimmage either.

Keep that picture in your mind. Without God on our side, that’s what it’s like facing the world every day as a Christian. We are in a fight every day. Those football players get on their battle ground once a week. We face that enemy every day we wake up and put our feet on the floor. There is an enemy out there that wants to destroy us. Satan does not want us to make it to heaven. He wants company in the hell God has prepared for him. He wants to capture the souls of as many as he can.

And he’s not just out there waiting for us to bump into him. John and Peter both describe him as a lion on the prowl. He’s hungry. He’s hunting us. He wants to eat you, devour you, destroy you. I’ve never seen a lion in the wild and I really don’t care to. I’ve seen enough wildlife to know that I don’t want to face a lion, the king of the beasts. Lions are give that title for a reason. They will take on just about any other animal and usually win. They are vicious when they hunt. Not many get away from them. Even those that do, often leave scarred, damaged, never the same.

That lion is searching for as many as he can until the Jesus returns. He wants company. He wants you! So in this fight, what are we to do? That’s what we will explore over the next few weeks. We will look at Sampson. How did he succeed? How did he fail? What can we learn from his sordid life? We can discover some things to do and not to do as we look at this Judge in Israel’s past. He was a hero and he sometimes let his position, his talents, his strength go to his head. He forgot the important things of life.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Paul knew we are in a battle. Jesus told us that if we followed him we would be at war with the world. It’s time we accept the fact if we carry his name, the world will hate us. The enemy will try to devour us. We will be at war. We must fight. But if God is on our side, he cannot be defeated. If you follow him, you’re on the winning side.

Jul 9, 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 will talk about the last in our series of what can help us defeat Goliaths of addiction and habits in our lives that we just can’t seem to conquer. Those things that seem to just linger on and seem impossible to change. You’ll recall we first said you can’t fight Goliath alone. God will go with us if we ask him. We should also try to take with us trusted friends, accountability partners, prayer partners, those that understand the battle we face and can help us through those struggles because they have been there before us.

We talked about overcoming our fears when we face our Goliaths. That doesn’t mean we won’t have any fears as we face them, but we must control our fear and use the energy, drive, emotions, and all the positive things that come from that singular emotion to help us focus on the addiction or habit we want to overcome.

We said we sometimes hold on to those habits and addictions because of our fear of rejection. We think if others know what is going on with us, they won’t like us. They will turn away from us. They will think poorly of us. If they knew, they might push us out of their lives and we would be alone. To be honest, some will, but you probably don’t want those in your repertoire of people trying to help you through victory over your problem anyway. You need to be surrounded by people who will be honest with you and not condone the habits or addictions you want to rid yourself, but you need people who will love you and stick with you through the tough times of change, as well.

We discovered that sometimes we hold on to those bad habits and addictions because we are comfortable with them. Change is hard even though we know the change is better for us than the circumstances we created for ourselves in our present state, but most of us do not like change and will stick to the devil we know rather than chance the angel we don’t know. So we stick with the comfortable thing we know even when we know it’s bad.

We learned that anger can sometimes help us overcome those Goliaths of addiction. But anger can also hinder us in facing those giants. Anger is not good or bad. It is an emotion God built into us. The question is what sparks our anger and how and where do we focus it. When we focus our anger appropriately, we can use the energy and strength that comes with it to attack those addictions and habits we want gone. When we use that emotion inappropriately, we might strike out against the people that could help us the most.

Last week we talked about the importance of openness about the thing you want to change. Until you identify and name the thing you want to fix, you are at best attacking symptoms, but never getting at the real root of the problem.

Today we look at one more exceptionally important trait that you must exercise to face the Goliaths in your life, those addictions, bad habits, things in your life you need to change. What is that trait? Faith. If you don’t believe you can change, you won’t. If you believe there is no hope, you will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without faith, you’ll find all your attempts at change are futile.

Faith, the writer of Hebrews says, is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen. It is knowing that an unseen future will circumstance will be true. We all exercise faith in our daily lives. We all have it and really could not live without it. Imagine going through life without faith. Not believing the lights would come on when flipped the light switch. Not knowing if the car would start when you turned the key. Not believing the sun would rise in the morning or the moon at night. Living without faith means wondering if the food you just ate is good for you or poisoned.

No faith in life makes you question whether the next step you take will be on solid ground or something that just looks solid. No faith makes you hold your breath because the air might be filled with toxic fumes instead of good clean oxygen.

So does all of that sound a little crazy? Maybe, but it really shows that everyone has faith. We have faith that the world works in certain ways that we can trust. We exercise faith to just live our lives in ordinary ways every day. It takes a lot of faith just to exist. Faith is faith is faith. The question is how do we direct that faith? In what or in whom do we have faith? I have a lot of faith in myself in certain aspect of life. In other aspects, I have very little faith in myself.

As a simple example, I have faith that I can drive without having an accident, so tomorrow I will get in my car, turn the key in the ignition, and back out of my driveway with full confidence that I will make it across town and arrive at my destination before my appointed time to be there. But I have very little faith that I can climb Mount Everest successfully, so don’t expect to see me even close to those slopes...ever. It would be crazy for me to even attempt the climb because I know my physical limitations and I have like no confidence I would get to even the 7,000 foot camps alive.

What does that have to do with addictions, habits, Goliaths we want to conquer? We need faith that we can actually change if we expect to change. If I don’t think I can kick a habit, I won’t. If I don’t think I can change my behavior, I’ll fail to change it. If I don’t have enough faith in myself to believe God and others can help me through some process to replace those things that need replacing in my life, I will sabotage the efforts and I will keep those things resident in my everyday life.

So, if I want to defeat a Goliath of addiction in my life, whether it is a simple thing like dropping dirty clothes on the floor instead of the hamper or a very complex thing like addiction to heroin. If I can’t picture and believe in a different future, I am stuck with the present life with no chance for change. I must have faith God and those he puts in my path as his helpers can make a new future for me.

Faith. Maybe today you’ll think about faith a little different than you have in the past. Remember, we all have it. Without out faith, I’m not sure any of us would survive. We’d go absolutely nuts. But with just a little faith, we not only survive, but we thrive. And with faith in the right who, Jesus said we would do even more than he did when he lived among us. Think about it. What future can you envision if you let him help you get rid of the Goliaths of bad habits and addictions that have seemed impossible to resolve. It’s time to start today.

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.

Jul 2, 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 some of the things that keep us from getting rid of our Goliaths. Thinking that some of our Goliaths are addictions and habits we want to rid ourselves. One such addiction all of us inherit because of that first act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden is the addiction of sin. We all sin. It’s a habit we might try to stop on our own, but it is just not possible. Paul talks about at the end of Chapter 7 in his letter to the Romans when he says, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am…”

That’s what we inherit from the very beginning of humanity. We can’t get away from it. It’s in our genes. It’s passed perfectly from generation to generation. And just like all our ancestors from the very first man and woman, we think the best thing to do is try and hide our addictive behavior from others. Just like Adam and Eve, we feel shame and guilt and all those other ugly emotions that go along with habits and addictions we know are wrong and we don’t want anyone else to know about them.

But you know what? We can’t hide them any more than Adam and Eve could hide them. We might be able to pull the wool over people’s eyes for a while, maybe even for a long time, but those things will make themselves known at some point. If nothing else, they come through in the stress and anxiety and wasted effort in trying to cover up that bleeds energy and effectiveness from you that could be used in more positive ways.

We think we are so good at hiding those dark things in our lives, but we really are not so good at it. Others can see through you. They can see the slippery slope you’re on. They may not know what it is, but people can sense there is something wrong. They can sense something is not quite right. How, because we all have that inherited trait and have all tried to hide at some time or other.

But how do you get over it? How can we work through those addictive behaviors? First, we recognize we can’t do it alone as we talked about earlier. But another point we’ll talk about to day, we need to get that thing, that habit, that behavior out in the open. We need to bring it into the light.

As long as my kids lived at home we had a rule for them. Curfew was always before midnight whatever their age. They didn’t like it when they were in their mid to late teens and all their friends parents let their kids set their own curfew, but our kids had to be  in the house before midnight...period. And why did we set that time? I’ve found as a general rule through the years that nothing good happens after midnight.

Take a look at domestic crime, murders, rapes, robberies, violent crime, DUIs, just go on down the list. You’ll find the percentage of those that happen in the dark hours of the night after midnight far outweigh the number that happen in the light of day. Evil hides. Good is not afraid of the light. But that’s how we begin to shed the things we want to change in ourselves. We bring it into the light.

First we admit we have those things in our behavioral repertoire to God and seek his help. But we very often need to get it out some at least a few close accountability partners know we struggle with something. We need to get it into the light so we can get help. Think about it. Few alcoholics can drop the habit without medical and psychological help. Without some kind of organized support like Alcoholics Anonymous to help them out. Few drug addicts can just stop using without significant help and support from groups that understand the progression of the addiction and how to curb it.

What we often don’t realize is that every habit, every addiction has some of those same traits. They become ingrained in certain parts of the brain that brings us pleasure. No matter how much we loath what we have done after the fact, those moments of pleasure we experience bring out the behavior and we have a hard time breaking it.

So what we need is a deterrent more powerful than that tickler in the pleasure centers of our brain. We need some counterbalance that will overrule that behavior and help us break that habit, that addiction. One way to do that is through the help of an accountability partner. Someone you trust that is not afraid to tell you the truth. Someone that knows the problem you’re facing and the habit you’re trying to fix. Someone that will hold you accountable and not tell you it’s okay when it’s both of you know it’s not okay.

So many times we try to keep these hidden secrets, but they are really not so secret and they are not so hidden. We just fool ourselves into thinking they are. The telltale signs always seem to show up at just the wrong time for us and then everything unravels. All our secrets just roll out for everyone to see. So if that’s true and it usually, normally, most of the time is, then why not find that trusted friend, open up to God and them, and just get to work on those things that must change.

Will it be easy? No. Will it sometimes feel embarrassing? Yes. Will there be times that you seem to fail in the process? Probably. But in our McDonald’s world we expect things to happen instantly and in life they seldom do. This instant gratification that we want usually sparks the bad behavior we struggle with in the first place. When we recognize it takes a lifetime to develop into Christlikeness, we will be much more forgiving of ourselves and others when we misstep and end up confessing one more time about that addiction that seems to have us in its grip.

That isn’t the end of the journey, though. One false step doesn’t mean failure. It means we ask forgiveness, pick ourselves up, figure out what triggered that bad response, do our best to set up ways to avoid that trigger and move on. God will help us tackle that giant if we let him. He is faithful to forgive us when we confess and truly repent. He will help us conquer those things displeasing to him. Why? Because he wants that intimate relationship with us that he had with Adam and Eve when we walked with them in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden

Is our confession to him something he doesn’t already know about? No. He knows us better than we know ourselves, but until we can name the problem we deal with, we cannot solve it. Until we name that thing we need to turn over to him, we can only stab at relieving symptoms, not getting to the root of things. It’s kind of like weeds in a garden. You can cut them, but they come right back until you dig out the roots of the weed. Only then are you rid of the weed, and even then, unless you have also removed any seeds that weed has left in the ground, it may pop up again later. You have to purge the ground of every part of that unwanted plant. And the good gardener knows he needs help to do that. He uses the right tools, the right chemicals, and applies all of them at the right time with frequent inspection over time to make sure the weeds are really gone.

So it is with the seeds of addiction and bad habits, Goliaths, giants that have us acting like cowards hiding in our tents Saul’s army in the Valley of Elah. Until we get them in the light, name them, share them with a trusted accountability partner, turn them over to God for his help, and apply every tool at our disposal against them, they will be like weeds in the garden of our lives. Not easy to get rid of them, but not impossible. Because nothing is impossible with God.

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.

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