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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: October, 2018

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Oct 15, 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.

Change requires breaking the bonds of familiarity. We often fail to change because we become familiar with our present state and that familiarity holds us in bondage.

It took over seventy years for the citizens of the former Soviet Union to overturn the tyrannical communist government and win their freedom. Why did it take so long? One reason was certainly fear. In the early years of the state, disagreement with Stalin and his hand-selected group of leaders meant death for the dissenter and his family. Consequently, few dared to revolt against the oppressive rule of their communist leaders.

What was supposed to be a utopia of standard living conditions for all citizens because every citizen worked their best for the good of everyone else in the state ended with the widening gap of the haves and have nots. Most of the country felt the abject poverty that results from the majority of the populace doing just enough to get by. Why work hard when all your labor profited someone else and your family still suffered?

Such is the result of communist and socialist rule because people are sinful and selfish. For the most part, we care about ourselves and our families. The world would be a pretty good place if we lived by the two commandments Jesus said encompassed the rest of God’s laws. What were they? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Well...we prove everyday that we are not very good at the first with more than half our formerly “Christian” nation not claiming any adherence to any formal religion. And the news shows we certainly don’t love our neighbor when we see the mass shootings, violent crime, more interest in our cell phone than in looking someone in the eye to discover who they are, what they felel, and how we might help them.

We are extremely selfish. It’s what started the whole problem with our separation from God in the first place. Adam and Eve wanted to be as smart as their creator. They ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and knew the difference between good and evil. They understood disobedience. Was there something special about that fruit? I’m not sure that tree was much different than any of the other fruit trees in the garden. But it was forbidden. They were not to climb over the fence and eat its fruit.

Cows are not supposed to stick their heads through the fence to eat grass from the other side, but they do. Kids are not supposed to stick their hands in the forbidden cookie jar, but they do. Teenage boys are not supposed to peak at the smut magazines that used to be hidden from view on the top shelves of the racks, but they do. Toddlers are not supposed to take toys away from their playmates, but they do. Kids are not supposed to bully other kids at school that might be a little different from them, but they do.

Do you get the point? We are evil. We think evil thoughts. We do evil deeds. We act out. We don’t do what we are supposed to do. We do what we are not supposed to do. We are selfish and we get stuck in that mode because we are comfortable in that attitude. We know it is wrong, but we do it anyway because its our familiar way of life from birth. We are in bondage to self satisfaction.

So how do we get out of this rut? How do we break away from the familiar, even if it might be good, so that we can have an even better life? The Soviets struggled under their oppressive life for more than 70 years. The Israelites lived in exile for 70 years before they could return to their capital city of Jerusalem. We stick with old habits for decades knowing they are bad for us. We just don’t or can’t break away from the familiar.

It’s like a test sociologists did several years ago in which they placed a man dressed as if a homeless drunk midway between the street corner and the entrance to a facility focused on helping people with resume preparation, job hunting, skill enhancement, and so forth. Each day, they moved the man closer to the door of the building.

At first, the workers turned toward the man and noticed he was there, but most just walked by with saying or doing anything. No one asked if he needed help. A few put a few coins in his cap or cup, but that was about the extent of their aid. Remember these are people in the business of helping people! The interesting point of their experiment, though, is that as they moved the man closer to the entrance, they finally got to the point the employees had to step over the man to gain entrance. Still, however, no one in the building whose job centered on helping people just like this guy offered to lend a hand, take him into their offices, and give them exactly the help they gave their paying customers on a daily basis. They just let him obstruct their path without further notice.

That’s why companies spend money on consultants. It’s not that the staff isn’t smart enough to solve their own problems. It’s mainly because after a few months or years, we can’t see the problem anymore. We just step over the homeless guy in the doorway or around the gaping hole in the floor or ignore the broken shelf. We are so familiar with those things we just don’t see them anymore. The high priced consultant brings new eyes into the building and sees those things that you smack your forehead after the fact with a resounding, “Duh! Why didn’t I see that?”

We do. It’s just becomes so familiar we don’t think to change it because we’ve grown so accustomed to the circumstance or situation.

We can get that way in our homes, in our jobs, and in our spiritual lives. We can get familiar and complacent. We can forget when God allows us to come into his presence in prayer that we are conversing with the maker of the universe. We forget the awe he should inspire in us because we sometimes get a little too familiar. We forget the sacrifice he made so that we can speak with him. We forget he is will to forgive our sins and provide his awesome, overwhelming, stunning grace to us.

God does invite us to speak with him. Paul did tell us when we are his followers we become God’s children and coheirs this Jesus. We are adopted into his family when we repent and he forgives us our sins. But it is dangerous territory when we get so familiar with him that we begin to step over those far from him that he puts in our path to share his good news. We need to have his eyes as we travel through life. We need to open our ears to hear the cry of those around us. We need to be ready to not just give our testimony, but to be like Jesus. He always had time for the down and out, the hurting outcasts of society. He saw people as his Father saw them and ministered to them as his Father directed.

To be like Jesus, we must change. God will work on us every day to make us more like him... if we let him. And there it is. The big if. So the million dollar question for each of us today, “Will I let God into my heart, soul, mind, and strength as I love him with everything I am, so that he can work his plans for this world through me. Am I willing to let him change me and use me in any way he sees fit to further his kingdom in the place I stand right now?

That what he asks of us every moment of every day. If you ask him to let you be his instrument to reach others with his good news, it’s a pray he will always answer … sometimes in pretty amazing and unusual ways. Get ready for an exciting ride when you earnestly pray that prayer. How about it? Are you ready to get away from the routine and start a new adventure?

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.

Oct 8, 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.

Pastor Rob Ketterling wrote this about change, “Encountering truth always results in a need to change.” What do you think?

We are usually very happy to go along in the same path we have always traveled because it is easier than changing. Change is hard. Change is challenging the norm. Change means displacing habits and that is never easy. Change, as Ketterling implies, means facing the truth and doing something about it.

God is truth. He is never duplicitous. He always works in our best interest. But he also works to fulfill his plans, not ours. He will use us to further his plans and make us into what he created us to be, but he will never sacrifice his goals for ours because he is God and we are not. He knows and is truth. We are scarred and damaged and considerably limited in our understanding of almost everything.

Just look around. Think back through a little bit of history. It’s easy to see just how arrogant and wrong we are about things. Look how many millenia it took for people to understand that the universe does not revolve around us. In our arrogance we thought we were the center of the universe. But we are just a speck in our solar system and our sun, the real center of our solar system is just a speck on the outer edge of the enormous galaxy we call the Milky Way. And that immense galaxy we call home is fairly small in comparison to the billions of galaxies that comprise the universe we think we know.

In reality, we know so little about the universe in which we live. In fact, we can’t say we even know our home planet very well. We haven’t made it to the deepest parts of our oceans yet. We try to explore it, but have only begun to see into those dark regions below the surface of the seas. Only a very small number of people have made it to the tops of our highest mountains. And when they reach those summits, they don’t stay there to explore or make any scientific studies of those places. They can only live there for a few minutes before they have to make the climb back down or they will die on those peaks.

We make great strides in figuring out how to heal the body, yet medicine is still not a strict discipline. It is a practice and an art. Why? Because every person is different. No one react exactly the same to every drug or treatment regimen doctors prescribe. We each contain minute differences in our anatomy. And some of us have fairly significant difference, like someone with situs inversus, in which every organ on the opposite side of the body. On the outside they look like everyone else, but on the inside, every visceral organ is a mirror image of most people. Were they built wrong? No, just different. They are often very healthy and often never know they are different on the inside until they need an x-ray or have some sort of surgery in which the surgeon is surprised by cutting on what should in the correct place but finds what he’s looking for missing in that spot.

Truth. Do examples like those mean there are different shades of truth? No. It means we, as frail and faulty humans, have a hard time getting to the truth. Our brains are not capable of understanding all there is to know. No matter how intelligent one might be, he or she can never know it all. And our understanding of so many things is limited to what we have learned in the past and how we approach things to understand them in the present. What do we really know about cancer? Quite a lot more than we did twenty years ago, but not enough to contain it.

So what do we do when we face something that changes our perspective of truth? How do we face information that runs contrary to what we thought we knew was right? It’s a question we must face almost every day because if we are alive, we are gathering information from around us through those five senses God built into us. And those five senses give us information that sometimes contradicts what we thought we knew about the world around us.

We thought the world was flat...until Columbus proved us wrong. We thought we could never fly...until the Wright brothers took that contraption into the air the length of a football field. We thought smallpox would always be a deadly disease among our children...until vaccines have effectively eradicated it from the world. We thought going to the moon was just the fantasy of science fiction writers...until Neil Armstrong made a footprint on its dusty surface.

With each of those truths, the world had to do something with the discoveries. We could not ignore the truth. Ships don’t fall off the edge of the earth because it’s not flat, it’s round. We not only can fly, but made it a multi-billion dollar industry. We took that one disease and created other vaccines that have almost wiped out other diseases that took our children from us. We use some of those space inventions every day that came out of those moon explorations. And if you have a really good telescope, you can see the glint of sunlight on the equipment those moon-walkers left up there on the moon.

Those truths deal with science and discoveries hard to dispute when you can see the evidence. But what about the things of God? What about the truth God reveals when he speaks to us about our relationship with him? What do we do with the truth someone shares with us about our eternal soul? How do we deal with the truth that may not be visible to the naked eye?

It’s a simple answer. Pastor Ketterling has it right. When we face truth, we must change. We can change for the better or we can change for the worse, but we will change. We cannot let it go. God wants an intimate relationship with us. He gave everything to give us that opportunity. He reveals himself to us and makes a way for us to come to him. But God does not change. We must. God is truth. Real truth does not change. A flat earth is not truth, it is only a perception. The inability to better ourselves through invention is not truth, it is only a perception. Our inability to eradicate some deadly disease is not truth, it is only a perception.

We may not understand the how and why of these things now, but they are still perceptions because we do not understand the majesty and power of God. God did not introduce those things into the world. Adam and Eve invited evil and sin and chaos into the cosmos when they disobeyed God. Satan’s deceit crept into the universe because of their disobedience. They no longer knew truth. They sought it, just like we do, but they no longer knew it. Just like us. We see shades of truth, perception, but only in God can we see truth. Because only he is truth. Everything else is at best a shadow of truth.

When we see things that are closer to the truth than we what know, our perception must change. Our belief must change. Our attitude and behavior and understanding must change. We become more aware of what is real and what is fantasy. Satan would love for us to live in this fantasy world around us, but his methods for seeking happiness or pleasure or success or peace or harmony among men only leads to more suffering and sorrow and chaos. We know that because we see the truth of it every day in our news reports.

God, however, brings peace to our hearts. He brings order to the chaos around us. He brings calm to the storms of life. He brings harmony into relationships. God, as the author of truth, the personification of truth, the epitome of truth, will stand in judgment of us one day and ask the question, “What did you do when confronted with my truth?”

Our answer will determine our eternal destiny. We will change when he gently calls us to him in this life. When we follow him, he will help us change into his likeness. When we run from him, we will face the consequences he outlines in his word. I’d like to say there is no hell, but that is not truth. His word tells us there is and he is truth. So now what? How will you change when he confronts 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.

Oct 1, 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.

It has been said the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But often we act like it’s true. We think we can get away with doing what we want to do and not reap the same consequences we have experienced in the past or we have seen someone else reap because of the same actions. We mistakenly believe we can get away with doing what we want without repercussions. But unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. God built into the nature of things the cause and effect consequences that accompany behaviors just as they accompany the theorems that are the mechanical underpinnings of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sounds familiar, right? The same thing kind of follows through in the consequences we feel because of our behavior, whether good or bad.

There is another saying that seems to hold true, also. It says that the best predictor of the future is the past. We humans have a tendency to do what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before. We are creatures of habit. We do what we learned and what we are used to doing. Our behaviors take a lot of energy and concentration to change. For instance, my wife gets on to me in restaurants and other social situations because I’m always tapping the table, turning my glass, moving the salt shaker around, twisting my fork, or something. I’m constantly moving my hands.

I’m a professed fidgety person. It seems that I just can’t hold still. I’m sixty-four years old and I’ve done this as long as I can remember. My parents told me to quit fidgeting. My teachers told me to quit fidgeting. My wife tells me to quit fidgeting. My kids tell me to quit fidgeting. Everyone tells me to hold still. I can’t. Whether it’s learned behavior, some mental or medical condition, or just bad habit, I can’t seem to stop. I have to be moving something all the time. It’s not big thing, but it’s distracting to others sometimes. So that innocent habit takes away the focus I might be wanting from those I’m talking with around me. As a consequence of my movements, they may miss an important point I or one of the other speakers in our group might be making. It’s not a good thing, but it’s a natural consequence of my behavior.

Is it big deal? Usually not. But sometimes a point is missed. Focus goes the wrong direction. Attention veers off the speaker for a moment and those accompanying me miss an opportunity to hear or see something because I’ve distracted them from what is certainly more important that watching me fidget with a water glass. But guess what, I would predict that if you sit down at a table with me this evening or tomorrow or next week, between the time our drinks come to the table and our food is served or as soon as I finish my meal, you’ll get to see me playing with something on the table. It won’t be long before I’m moving a glass around or playing with some utensil or flipping packets of sugar around or doing some other mundane action with my hands. I just can’t keep still. As hard as I try, I just can’t seem to do it.

But the same too often holds true in our spiritual life, too. If you didn’t go to church last month, it is likely you won’t go next month. Not because you’re necessarily a bad person, but because we are creatures of habit. The past is the best predictor of the future. We do what we’ve done and expect different results. But the world doesn’t work that way. We usually do what we’ve always done.

If you didn’t do any devotions at home this week, I would predict you won’t do any devotions at home next week. Why? Because we are creatures of habit and usually do what we’ve always done. Change is hard. Changing spiritual things when the world does its best to keep us from God is extremely hard. Remember Jesus said the world would hate us because of him. The world will deceive and put obstacles in our path. The world will try its best to kill our spirit and shape us into its mold instead of God’s.

We talked about how hard habits are to break last week. Change is hard, but sometimes necessary. Change takes commitment and perseverance. Two words that have somehow disappeared from our vocabulary in the last decade or so. We won’t commit to anything and when things get hard, we just quit. Something changed in us to make us rather lazy as a society. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to spend the time and effort be excellent at anything. We don’t reach out for new opportunities or new experiences. We don’t recognize the importance of life and the worth of the human soul. We have changed as a society in the last couple of decades. We have lost God.

Now we need to change. We can’t do it with just words. We can’t change easily. We can’t expect things to get better by sitting around doing the same things and hoping something different will happen. It won’t. We must change our habits. Our behaviors. The way we think. Paul admonishes us to “let our mind be transformed”. That’s where it all begins. We must work hard to think differently. Change the way we think. Dismiss the evil thoughts that the world puts there. Change the pattern of thought and as the Psalmist tells us so often, “meditate on God’s word day and night”.

David meditated on the word of God available to him at the time. Did you ever stop to think about what he really had? The Old Testament came to be what it is today after the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem after their exile. Around 400 BC. David wrote many of the Psalms we have today. He had the Torah, the first five books of our Old Testament. He might have had the stories from the book of Judges. He knew the story of his heritage from Naomi and Ruth and Boaz and his father, Jesse. He didn’t have much else, yet through scripture David was noted as a man after God’s own heart.

Why? His habit was to meditate on God’s word. Did he always please God? Absolutely not. Bathsheba. Uriah. Murder. Adultery. Deceit. Treachery. Bigamy. Favoritism among his children. He failed many times. But he always came back repentantly to God and asked forgiveness. He changed his heart and his actions. He changed his thinking. He meditated on God’s word instead of the things the world popped into his brain. He changed his focus to try to see the world from God’s eyes instead of his human eyes.

To become like Jesus, we must change. He can help us if we let him. But we cannot do the same things we always do and expect to be like him. He will continue to shape us and mold us throughout our life when we honestly and fervently seek him and desire to be like him. He is the change maker. He created us in the first place. He knows how to fix our broken parts. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it to help us make it through this journey toward heaven.

How can we change what our future looks like? We need to recognize what we’ve done in the past and remember that the only way to change the future is to do something different. When we do the same things, expect things to be just like they were. When we think the same way, we will act the same way. If you want a different future than than your past or current state, look to Jesus and let him transform you. Only by breaking through with him and living life in a different, Jesus filled manner can you hope to have a different future.

Expecting a different outcome from the same actions is insanity. Let Jesus help you change your future by directing your thinking and your actions. Let him in today as the change agent for your life.

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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