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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: September, 2018

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Sep 24, 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.

No one ever said change was easy. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do, but sometimes that change is the most necessary thing in your life.

Sometimes it’s really hard for me to believe the number of cigarettes sold in the United States today. Are you ready for this? One study says about 10 million cigarettes are sold every minute. Think about that. The population of New York City is less than 9 million. It’s like everyone in New York City, infants through centenarians, buying a package of cigarettes every nine minutes, 24 hours a day.

Why does that surprise me so much? Because the last television ad for cigarettes was aired on December 31, 1970 during the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I was sixteen. I’m now sixty-four. It has been almost 50 years since a cigarette commercial went across the airwaves, yet we still sell them at the rate of 10 million a minute in this country alone. Proven to cause cancer. Proven to harm unborn children. Even secondary smoke has been proven to be a health hazard, particularly for the young and the elderly. So why do we see so many people with a cigarette in the hand and sucking their life away?

Why? The same reason illegal drugs are a problem in this country. The same reason alcohol is a problem in this country. The same reason prescription  drug about is a problem in this country. Someone tells a teenager they can get a buzz or escape reality for a few minutes if they try this pill or that cigarette. Doing something just a little illegal makes them cool. Skating on the edge shows how tough they are. All those little things to make them different, except now they are the same as all the others trapped in a vice they can’t escape.

So in 2015, the stats tell us we had more than 88 thousand alcohol related accidental deaths. We also had more than 66 thousand drug abuse deaths and 33 thousand alcohol induced deaths above and beyond those 88 thousand traffic accidents and boating accidents. The alcohol and drug induced deaths were things like cirrhosis of the liver or pancreas, alcohol poisoning, overdose, and so forth. The average age of those victims was about thirty so those that do these statistics estimate that more than 2 ½ million years of life were snuffed out because of abusing drugs and alcohol in this country.

We know all that stuff is bad. We know the dangers of using tobacco products and abusing both legal and illegal drugs. We know the dangers alcohol abuse causes. We know all those things. So why do we have such a huge problem in this country? Are we all just stupid to be buying 10 million cigarettes a minute and wasting 2 ½ million years of life from those we kill every year for no reason except we fail to change?

These are sobering numbers from statistics three years old. I wish I could tell you the numbers have gotten better over the last three years, but they haven’t. They’ve gotten worse. Drive down the street wherever you live. Pay attention to the teenagers and young adults you see on the street and driving around in some fairly expensive cars. How many do you see that are smoking? How many have eyes that just don’t seem to focus well? How many are in places that you know trouble is bound to happen if they just hang around? And where did they learn all these neat tricks?

From us. We indulge ourselves in the current generations. The Silent Generation, Baby boomers, Me Generation, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Z, Post-millennials, iGen, Centennials, Plurals, pick from whatever list or title you like. We are guilty of thinking of me first. We don’t want to change our ways. We don’t want to do the hard things that will fix us. Kicking those habits is hard, so we don’t. Teaching our kids to do the right thing regardless what their friends say or do is hard, so we don’t teach them. Consistent discipline and living those morals we want our children to have is hard, so we compromise. Being the model, the example of godliness in our homes and at work and in the grocery store is hard these days, so we fudge a little here and there.

Then we wonder why our kids think we are hypocrites. We wonder why our kids have abandoned the church and God. We wonder why they take up habits and try to be different only to look and act like the rest of the growing different look alike crowd. They take the easy way because they see us take the easy way. Change is hard. But change is worth the effort. Change is important. Change is necessary sometimes. Change to get out of the trap of today’s culture requires strength we do not have. It requires strength we can only get when armored with God’s help. Change means being different in this world. It means being a true non-conformist, because the world wants you to conform to its moral values, its selfish ways, its downhill slope to eternal damnation.

God never said following him would be easy. Those that tell you being a Christian is all rose petals, blue skies, and fluffy clouds have never been a Christian and don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Being a Christian is hard in this world. Satan works his best to destroy followers of Christ. The world hates Jesus’ followers just as he said they would. Everywhere you turn you will find those who hate you and everything you stand for just because you declare Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life. Walking the Christian life take all the effort you can muster every day from the time you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes at night. Jesus said it would be that way. He promised pain and suffering. He promised that to those who followed him.

But he also promised his legacy of peace. An inner peace that is inexplicable until you experience it. He promised an eternity with him when he returns to take us to his home in heaven. He promised us his presence with us and in us in the form of his spirit alive and well. Enabling us to live the life he wants us to live. Hard. Yes. Worth it. Absolutely. Not much in this life worth having comes to us without hard work. Changing our mindset to follow him is no different.

I can assure you that God will not change. He did a pretty good job at creation. He didn’t need to change. He did a pretty good job of setting the rules for Adam and Eve. They changed. He didn’t. Life was never the same for them and the disobedience they introduced in the world changed everything. God didn’t change. But they did. God is still holy. He hasn’t changed. So if everything keeps going downhill in this world, if evil keeps creeping up since the fall of man, if humanity gets worse and worse in what we do to each other, and we are supposed to be the intelligent beings living on this rock. We’ve changed and we’ve made a mess of things. God still hasn’t changed. He’s the same as he was before creation. He will be the same when time ends. If we expect to see him, guess who needs to change? Not God. He’s doing just fine. After all, he’s God. He makes the rules. Change is hard. But sometimes change is necessary and even though it’s hard, it is certainly worth it in the end. How is your change coming along?

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.

Sep 17, 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.

Last week we determined that we are controlled by our thoughts and we need to take a look at the thoughts we need to turn over to God and let him help us change. Today, I want us to consider this thought. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to.

Let me give that to you once more, then I’m going to pause for just a second or two to let you consider it with me. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to.

I mentioned last week that I have a business that deals in change management. One of the aspects of that service looks at the life cycle of organizations to help leaders determine how well they are poised for change. The thought above is very true, but too many of my clients have waited too long and determine they are well past that “change before they have to” part and are in the throes of change because they have to.” The business figured out their profits have started along that downhill slide on the life cycle of a dying business. They know they must change if their company hopes to survive.

Every once in a while, though, a smart CEO or owner will take a look at their business before they must change. They examine their business while still moving ahead before they get to the top of that peak of economic prosperity. They look around at other businesses around them and take a gander at opportunities the market has to offer and they recognize their great ideas from a few years ago are now just run of the mill and you can find like products and services on every street corner and often much cheaper than what they offer. They know they must change if they are to survive in the long run and so they change and manage that change well. The change causes a small blip in their profit curve, but then it recovers from the blip and climbs rapidly in the market again. Change happens, management matters.

But what about us as individuals? Well, guess what, we will change. All of us must change. The question each of us must answer is will we change before we have to or because we have to. Maybe the change is because of the loss of income with a job loss. Maybe health issues puts a stop to certain physical activities. Maybe the loss of a loved one causes immediate change. These kinds of changes can come unexpectedly and without warning. We change because we have to.

Others we can prepare for and although we know they are coming, we can be ready for them or at least as ready as we can. What kinds of things can we prepare in advance? Retirement is one. Too many in this country rely solely on Social Security for their retirement income. If that’s your only income, you will live below the poverty level. It was never designed to be the sole retirement mechanism for the population. It was designed as a safety net for those without means of support. What does that mean? If you are in your twenties or thirties and just starting your career, put away some portion of your income into a retirement fund now. It doesn’t have to be much, but get into the habit of putting it away where you can’t get to it easily. You will need it when you retire.

If you are in your forties or fifties, you can still begin to catch up, but you will need to start putting away larger sums of money quickly before it is too late. And teach your kids to put money away for retirement. You need funds for retirement a lot more than you need this year’s model car. You need funds for retirement a lot more than you need a swimming pool in your backyard or a house  to impress your friends with extra rooms that will just sit empty all the time.

And if you are already retirement age, you understand exactly what I’m talking about and you should share your wisdom with those who are coming along behind you. We live in a very materialistic, instant gratification society that will implode on itself if we do not change our ways soon. Change before you have to, not because you have to. Solomon talked about the ants that store away food for the winter. Smart little creatures!

And how about death? We don’t like to talk about it, but do you have a will? Will all your assets get tied up in probate court waiting for lawyers and judges and the state to figure out what to do with your property? Wills fix those things and they are usually very easy and simple to execute. How about a living will so family members don’t have to make the traumatic emotional decisions about your quality of life if you are in a hospital bed with little or no brain activity but can be made to exist on life support for months on end?  Life insurance? Funeral arrangements? These all sound like morbid things, and they are. But all of them are much easier to attend to before someone rolls out a casket in front of you and you have to make those decisions while you are still in the shock of have lost someone so dear to you.

How about spiritually? To get to heaven, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s pretty straight forward. We are all sinners. Some have been saved by his grace. We are all invited. He offers all the gift of his forgiveness. But a gift is not a gift until it is received. Until we accept it willingly, we don’t have the gift he offers. God’s desire is that we would all accept the gift he offers. He also knows that we are stubborn and there will be some that will go their own way and refuse him. I hate to talk about it, but as surely as there is a heaven because God is full of love and grace and mercy, there is also a hell because God is also just and holy and true to his word. He has never changed. We must if we are to be in his presence face to face one day.

We are back to that haunting thought that we started with today. You can change before you have to instead of because you have to. Sometimes life is not fair and we are blindsided by events that force us to change because of them. Receiving the gift of God’s grace and mercy and the forgiveness of our sins is a change that can happen right now. This very moment. All you have to do is ask him with a repentant heart and he will do it. Come on and let him change you. New life is yours for the asking.

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.

Sep 10, 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 start a new topic that will take us through  the next few weeks. In one of my businesses, I serve as a professional change manager. In fact, as part of the marketing of that business, I secured a copyright for a slogan that explains a little of what the company does. The slogan says this, “When change happens, management matters.” You see, we all change. In fact, we change all the time. If we didn’t we would be dead. Did you know that the only cells in the body that are not replaced with some frequency are brain cells? Every other cell is replaced on a regular basis. Skin and hair cells being two of the most frequently replaced. You might be surprised to know your whole body of skin is replaced about once a month.

But we will talk about some different kinds of change over the next few weeks. Suffice it to say that we must change. So if change is necessary to our very survival, we need to know a little about change. We need to think about what needs to change in our life and how to go about managing that change in a way that benefits us. Taking a knife and slicing off strips of skin is not the best way to change your skin cells monthly. Yet cutting your hair every once in a while is not necessarily a bad thing. You probably don’t want to remove an eye and expect it to regrow itself, but a cancerous tumor needs to be taken care of quickly and decisively before it spreads throughout the body.

So change is necessary for all of us and management of change is also important. We, however, will talk about changing some important things and how we must manage those changes so God can use us most effectively in the days, months, and years ahead.

What do we talk about first? Let’s look at that organ in which the cells don’t change. The brain is the center of all your thoughts. Hundreds of thousands of studies have been done trying to explain that three pound mass of goo that sits in that space between your ears. We have learned a lot, but we still know so little about it. We know it operates with tiny electric currents that run between the neurons, those little nerve cells that comprise the brain. Yet how do those cells hold every memory and analyze problems and create imaginative and artistic things? We have no idea. When those connections are broken through concussions or surgery or trauma or drugs or some other means, those memories and analysis processes and creativity can be destroyed or changed. Why? We don’t know except all that information is stored in those tiny electric currents in the cells, just like in computer chips. Fascinating studies with no good answers except that God made us in incredibly complex ways that we cannot duplicate.

So what about that brain? Why do I mention it first in this series of change? Jesus kind of points us in that direction. He tells us that murder starts with a single emotional thought of calling a brother or sister a fool. He said that rape begins with a single thought of lusting after a person. See, every behavior we name as a sinful behavior begins inside that three pound brain as a thought and then is transmitted to our hands and feet to carry out that thought in action. So to carry Jesus’ warning just a bit further, our thoughts control us. He said what comes out of our mouth tells others what we really are. Those thoughts that result in words we can’t take back. Those are the things people hear and see that determine our true character.  

Your thoughts control you. You might say, “Wait a minute. That’s not who I am. My thoughts are private. I can day dream and think what I want without affecting anyone else. I can daydream or think about actions I’d like to take against someone or something, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever carry them out.”

Really? Think about it for a minute. We are controlled by a lot of things sometimes. Your boss controls what time you show up for work. If you get there too early, the doors are locked. If you habitually get there too late, you find you no longer work there. Your bank account controls what you can buy. You thoughts control your attitude. And attitude creeps into all that other stuff. Do you think you can work effectively for a boss you despise with your thoughts? You will barely get by at best, doing only the minimum he requires and getting away from him as fast as you can every day. Do you think those lustful thoughts about that co-worker doesn’t affect the way you see your spouse when you get home?

We need to get honest with ourselves if we are going to be the men and women God wants us to be. Before we can do anything about those attitudes, those thoughts, those things that control us, we have to recognize them and begin to turn them over to God so he can help you change them. Maybe the things controlling you are physical appearance or popularity or greed or power or what others think of you. Whatever the thing that controls your thoughts and keeps you from being the man or woman God wants you to be, sit down today and make a list of those things. Jot them down in a private place or share them with a prayer partner if you can. Begin to let God change those thoughts and hindrances to your relationship with him.

Your thoughts will control you. That three pound miracle that sits between your ears controls your whole body. It is the place where every function in your body finds its origin. Nothing happens within you that does not start from a command in that mass of cells call the brain. So what is controlling you? What needs to change? Are you ready to give those things to God and let him help you change?

Let’s go back to that slogan I mentioned in the first place. When change happens...management matters. You are changing. The question is who is managing the change? Do you think your managing it? How’s that going for you? Do you think our culture is shaping and managing your change? That works great, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s time to turn the management over to God and let him direct the changes that need to take place. He’s really good at change. After all, he changed nothing into something. Darkness into light. Chaos into order. He can help you change the thoughts that control you, too. Take a chance. Let him manage your life from the inside out.

Change is happening. Who will manage it for 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 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.

Sep 3, 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.

Samson left God and didn’t know it. His behavior took him away from the one who gave him strength. Now he was in prison, blind, and turning the stone on a gristmill like a mule. He hit rock bottom and discovered why he had any strength in the first place. We pick up Samson’s story in Judges 16.

Samson’s head had been shaved. But the hair on it began to grow again.

The rulers of the Philistines gathered together. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were going to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed our enemy Samson over to us.”

When the people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us.

Our enemy has destroyed our land.

He has killed large numbers of our people.”

After they had drunk a lot of wine, they shouted, “Bring Samson out. Let him put on a show for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison. He put on a show for them.

They had him stand near the temple pillars. Then he spoke to the servant who was holding his hand. He said, “Put me where I can feel the pillars. I’m talking about the ones that hold the temple up. I want to lean against them.”

The temple was crowded with men and women. All of the Philistine rulers were there. About 3,000 men and women were on the roof. They were watching Samson put on a show.

Then he prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord and King, show me that you still have concern for me. God, please make me strong just one more time. Let me pay the Philistines back for what they did to my two eyes. Let me do it with only one blow.”

Then Samson reached toward the two pillars that were in the middle of the temple.They held the temple up. He put his right hand on one of them. He put his left hand on the other. He leaned hard against them.

Samson said, “Let me die together with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might. The temple came down on the rulers. It fell on all of the people who were in it. So Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than he did while he lived.

It took defeat, blinding him, imprisonment, and humiliation before his enemies for Samson to realize how far he had strayed from the path God intended for him. He finally figured out that without God, he was just another man. He was a clay vessel, easily broken without the one who created him standing alongside him in his journey.

We often read those last verses of Samson’s life and brand him a hero because of the number of Philistines he killed. Enemies of Israel and God that he snuffed out. We too often think he was someone to emulate and think about what we might do with such strength. But take another look.

Did Samson have to go through all the suffering he did to carry out God’s plan for his life? I don’t think so. Maybe we would not have the stories about him we do now. Maybe we wouldn’t have the lessons we learned from his bad behavior. Maybe we wouldn’t use him as examples of how to live or not to live in this journey of life. But I have a feeling that’s not true. I think God gave him strength and his position as judge over Israel to carry out his plan to defeat the Philistines, but I think God’s plan would have played out much differently if Samson had listen to him.

In my imagination, I can see Samson still defeating the armies God’s enemies sent against his people, but can you imagine the impact on nations around him if he had followed God’s laws. He would be respected by Israel instead of 3,000 men showing up at his hideout in a cave ready to turn him over to the Philistines. He could have been a tremendous leader if he had displayed the moral courage to do what was right instead of what satisfied his base desires.

Samson often acted more like an animal than one of God’s chosen people. And like a wild animal, his enemies laid traps for him until they finally caught the beast. It was only in captivity that God was able to tame the beast and show him who was really in charge.

You and I can find ourselves in the same trap if we fail to listen to that still, small voice that echoes in our mind. We must stop and recognize that there will be consequences to our behavior whether we like those consequences or not. We must understand there are no freebies in life and there will come a time, sooner or later, when we will feel the effects of what we do in our life.

We can also learn from Samson that God will redeem us when we repent. He comes to us when we recognize our sinful state and ask forgiveness. He responds when we understand he is God and knows what is best for us. God reaches out to us because he wants to have an intimate relationship with us. But he is also a holy God and we must come to him willing to obey him. Samson did and God listened and did incredible things through him. When we come to God willing to follow, he will do incredible things with us.

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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