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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: April, 2019

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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Apr 15, 2019

Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.

I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.

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

As I got to know my wife when we were first dating a hundred years ago. (It’s not really been that long, but after 42 ½ years of marriage, it’s hard to remember life without her.) I digress. When we were dating, I learned her favorite perfume was Chanel No. 5. For a college kid, it was horribly expensive. But you know what present I would get her from time to time? If you didn’t guess it right the first time, you haven’t been hopelessly in love. I saved up enough to buy her Chanel No. 5 every time the bottle was getting low.

One thing I really love about Chanel No. 5, and I think the reason she likes it so well, is that it has such a light scent. It’s fragrance doesn’t overwhelm you when someone walks into the room wearing it. You recognize its presence, but barely until you are close to the person who has used just enough of the elixir to make it known there is something different about their scent. Great stuff.

A lot of other perfumes, colognes, toilet waters I just can’t handle. Someone will walk into a building and it suddenly smells like a 5,000 gallon fuel tanker filled with the stuff just dumped their load in the room. You probably know what I’m talking about. That odor, whether pleasant or not, just overpowers everything until it just destroys your sense of smell and no matter what the smell, you detest it. My eyes begin to water, my throat begins to close, I begin to sneeze uncontrollably. All my doctors tell me I’m not allergic to anything, but what that overwhelming scent gets into a room, my body just goes beserk.

Today’s passage reminds me of those overpowering fragrances since John describes the odor as permeating the whole house. Here is what he says in John 12 verses 1 through 11:

“Six days before the Passover feast, Jesus journeyed to the village of Bethany, to the home of Lazarus who had recently been raised from the dead, where they hosted Him for dinner. Martha was busy serving as the hostess, Lazarus reclined at the table with Him, and Mary took a pound of fine ointment, pure nard (which is both rare and expensive), and anointed Jesus’ feet with it; and then she wiped them with her hair. As the pleasant fragrance of this extravagant ointment filled the entire house, Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (who was plotting to betray Jesus), began to speak.

Judas Iscariot: How could she pour out this vast amount of fine oil? Why didn’t she sell it? It is worth nearly a year’s wages; the money could have been given to the poor.

This had nothing to do with Judas’s desire to help the poor. The truth is he served as the treasurer, and he helped himself to the money from the common pot at every opportunity.

Jesus: Leave her alone. She has observed this custom in anticipation of the day of My burial. The poor are ever present, but I will be leaving.

Word spread of Jesus’ presence, and a large crowd was gathering to see Jesus and the formerly deceased Lazarus, whom He had brought back from the dead. The chief priests were secretly plotting Lazarus’s murder since, because of him, many Jews were leaving their teachings and believing in Jesus.”

This nard got my curiosity up. I didn’t think I’d ever smelled nard, sometimes called spikenard, so I started looking up some descriptions of the fragrance. I found that it was indeed a very expensive oil in Jesus’ day, and not so inexpensive today because of where the plant grows from which it is derived.

In my search, I found the plant grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. So just getting the plant to Israel in Biblical times would be quite the journey. And those lengthy caravans were costly. We know how to build greenhouses in such a way that we can grow almost anything anywhere, now, because we can simulate the environment of almost anyplace on earth, but they couldn’t then, and even today, to simulate the environs of the Himalayas would be costly.

But what about the smell? In all my searches, I found only one person that said nard smelled a little like lavender. That one author must have a terrible sense of smell because every other author I read said the smell is best described as “nard smells like … feet. A few said “stinky cheese.” But the majority of the vote if you do this in a democratic way, nard smells musty, earthy, leathery, … like feet. Think about the smell of middle school boys’ rooms. Feet! Yuk!

So why use nard? Well, it was thought to have some medicinal uses. It calmed anxiety. I’m told some people actually like the musty, leathery parts of the smell. Feet! One of the comments I read said fish stink, too, but that doesn’t make the river any less beautiful. I guess I understand the comment. We put up with my son’s middle school stinky feet smell because he was our son. We didn’t care much for the stinky feet smell, but we weren’t going to throw him out the door because of it. We just held our nose and gagged a little when ever we tried to decontaminate his room every few hours. (Sorry to use you as an illustration, Matt, you were handy, but I could have used any boy your age.)

So why bring all this up about nard? First, just because of the curiosity. But more important, because of the reaction of two characters in the story. Mary poured out the perfume as an act of worship for Jesus. (Whether people liked the smell or not, it was present and if it had a calming effect all the better.) She acted extravagantly in the presence of the one who deserves our extravagance. She didn’t think about the cost, only the act of giving her most prized possession.

The other character in our story, Judas, saw only waste. He didn’t see the act of worship. He only saw a year’s wages dumped on the leader of their little band’s feet. The stinky feet smell filled the room and instead of calming Judas, the oil had the opposite effect. The waste enraged him and he stormed out of the house. Everyone in the house should have been celebrating. Here sitting in the room with them was a living, breathing, eating, talking brother who just a few days earlier classified as a no kidding corpse. Dead. Gone. Finished.

Then we see this third group of characters that are really hard to explain. Jesus just raised Lazarus from the dead. He stood outside the tomb from which he had the stone pushed back and called out his name. Then here comes this man wrapped in a burial shroud smelling like nard and myrrh and frankincense. Everyone there just stands with their mouths open like fish until Jesus tells them to get the burial shroud off of him and feed him. He hasn’t eaten in four days! He’ll be hungry!

So if this guy, Jesus, can raise the dead and talk about scripture like he was there when it was written, why not listen to him? If Jesus can make two fish and five little rolls feed 5,000 men and their families, why would the religious leaders want to turn people away from him? If Jesus can change the lives of the individuals he touches and give them the internal peace they seek by telling them their sins are forgiven, why would the priests be wanting to break their own commandments and kill him?

It just doesn’t make much sense, does it? But you know what? We are often guilty of doing the same thing today. We act like Jesus is not the God we say he is. We act like he doesn’t matter. We act like the Bible and his teachings are not true. We act like there will be no judgment day or not final reckoning for the lives we live. We act like we are the center of the universe and the most important thing around. We act like those Pharisees and Sadducees. We act like we are ready to kill him because he makes life uncomfortable for us and wants to change our ways.

So here we are just a few days from celebrating Easter, for many, just another day on the calendar. For many, just a day which they can lift up as a way of making more sales for candy and clothes and special gifts for those that just want to pretend they are followers of Christ. It is still the season of Lent. In the early church, a time of preparation for those who chose to signify their entrance into the church by means of baptism on Easter Sunday. A time of study, self-reflection, ensuring they really know Jesus, they know his saving grace, and they know the cost of their commitment to him.

Lent, a time of preparation. We can do the same if we choose. We can prepare for Easter. We can do that self-examination and know we true followers of Jesus. We can know his awesome grace in our lives. We can commit to him knowing the cost may be everything we are and everything we have. Our riches, our families, our very lives. We can follow him if we choose. Most will not because in this world, the cost is high. But how about you. I can tell you it is worth it when you walk the narrow path with him.

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.

Apr 8, 2019

Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.

I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.

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

Here we are in the middle of Lent. In just a couple of weeks we will gather together to celebrate Easter. The day we set aside on the Christian calendar marking the day Jesus burst out of his grave to show us his power over death. During this season, I’ve been drawing my devotions from a book titled “For God So Loved”. The scripture I read today happens to come from Hebrews chapter 10. The author of that book writes to the Hebrew people of his day to explain in scholarly terms the proofs that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and in the last several chapters, including chapter 10, how we should live in community with each other as his followers.

Now in this tenth chapter, beginning in verse 19 we find this admonition:

19 So, my friends, Jesus by His blood gives us courage to enter the most holy place. 20 He has created for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through His flesh. 21 Since we have a great High Priest who presides over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. 23 Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. 24 Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, 25 not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches.

The author of the devotional I read today, Tara Beth Leach, gives some thoughts about the verses that could be summed up with an opening statement, “Don’t attend church, if…” She then fills in the blanks with several reasons why we should not go to church using a bit of sarcasm in her writing, such as, don’t attend church if you expect everyone to be just like you. Or don’t attend church if you expect easy answers. Or don’t attend church if you don’t want to be stretched and pushed.

So why should we go to church? Isn’t it supposed to be a safe haven for us so we can feel good about ourselves and find joy and peace and happiness? Isn’t church the place to find friendship and a common bond with those around you? Isn’t church the place to find that legacy of peace Jesus leaves us?

Church is all of that and more, but joy and peace and happiness and friendship and togetherness doesn’t mean it is easy or that everyone is or should be just like me. It doesn’t mean everything should be all soft and cushy and rosey. It doesn’t even mean I really want to be there sometimes. But I know I need to be there. Hebrews tells us we need to meet together. We need to support and learn from each other. We know that God doesn’t change, but I have to be honest, there is much about the Bible I just do not understand.

I believe the Bible is true and I believe is spans generations and gives light and life to us as we follow its teachings. I also believe there are some things written in it that apply to the particular culture in which it was written. For instance, Paul speaks out about women speaking in the church, yet he praises Lydia an obvious leader in the church. Jesus had no problem breaking the cultural rules as he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. Yet his actions were strictly forbidden and he never told anyone those forbidden rules were wrong. He just reached out to people.

So, I believe there are some things in the Bible that must be interpreted in the light of the culture of Biblical times. Often the principle of what was spoken can be picked out of the words and apply equally to us, but some things are just different in our culture. My wife only walks behind me when my pace gets faster than hers, not because I mean for her to be anywhere other than beside me. But not in some other culture even today and certainly not in Jesus’ day when cattle were more valuable than women.

So how best do we learn what scripture means? How can we interpret the words? We get together and we discuss what we read and how God’s spirit speaks to us individually and collectively and we begin to discern what God is trying to tell us. We should not depend on the pastor to do all of our study or all of our thinking for us. We should be an active part in that gathering to learn.

We should go to church to worship together. There is something about worship in community with other believers that elevates our spirit as we do so. God created us to be in community with him and with others. Yes, we can and should worship alone, but we should also worship with other believers. We can learn from them as they also learn from us in our prayers, our singing, our devotion, our approach to a holy God.

We should go to church to share each others burdens. I know you’ve seen those boxes that recommend a two man lift. Often one person can pick them up, but the movement of the load is so much easier and safer when two people work together to lift it. It’s the same with many of the difficulties we face in life. When we share each others burdens and support each other in times of trial, it just makes life easier. Not necessarily easy, but easier. That 100 pound box still weighs 100 pounds, but when two people lift it, you are less likely to break your back in the process.

We should go to church to share with other believers what we have learned through our own life experiences. I can seldom pass by someone who comments “I just wasn’t fed by the service today.” I can’t help remark, “It’s because you didn’t bring a spoon!” We don’t gather to be fed. We come to share. We come to worship. We come to experience God’s spirit in community. If you want to be fed every time you walk through the door, there are a lot of restaurants in the world that will be happy to feed you. And they supply the utensils. When we come expecting God to touch us because we have reached out to him all week long and worshipped all week long, that gathering in the church is just another opportunity to share that same worship with others who are doing the same.

So when you think about gathering together for worship, don’t think about what you get, but what you give. Do you want your spirit touched? Then reach out and touch someone’s heart with your love. Do you want peace? Then exude peace to those who enter the door and need it. Do you want fellowship? Then be a friend to those who look lonely. Do you need to feel joy? Then surround yourself with those with smiles on their faces, wear a smile yourself and feel it move from your face to your heart.

If church were like the social clubs in the community, it would fail as a place to serve God. Those social clubs provide just what the world asks for. Sameness. Emptiness. Hopelessness. You can pay a healthy price to belong to one of those social clubs, but they won’t provide the eternal answers you long to find. I don’t want to go to a church like that.

I want to go to a church that steps on my toes. I want to hear sermons that challenge me and forces me to become more Christlike. I want to surround myself with people who are like me in that they want to follow in Jesus, but I also want the church to be filled with those who are not very Christlike. I want to see people there who are hungry to find something the world can’t offer. And I want to see them there because they have seen something in me and others in my church that they just can’t explain. I want them to question why we are like we are and want the same kind of peace and joy and contentment in life that we enjoy because of our fellowship with God and one another.

Does every church look like that? I’m afraid not. Does my church look like that? Not all the time. But sometimes. And why is it that churches today aren’t as inviting and create as much curiosity for outsiders as we would like? Well, to be honest, it’s my fault...and your fault. Unless we live that life that cause others to see Christ in us every day outside the church, we can’t expect them to want to see what is going on inside the church. Think about it. It wasn’t Jesus’ actions in the temple or the synagog that caused people to follow him. It was his life outside those institutions. People flocked to him because of his everyday actions that showed his love for others. So during this season of Lent, think about your life. Do your actions cause those around you to want to follow you? Do you generate curiosity among those that know you as they watch you live your life for God? Do you have to tell them you are a Christian for them to know it? Lent is the time for preparation. It’s time to examine ourselves and know we are right with him. Take some time this week and do just that.

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.

Apr 1, 2019

Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.

I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.

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

We are in the middle of Lent. Not the kind of tiny little balls of cotton that stick to your clothes, but the kind that has all but been forgotten in the Christian in terms of its original purpose. When Lent began almost two millennia ago, the church used it as a time to introduce new converts to a period of study to ensure they understood what the faith really entailed.

By the middle of the fourth century, Christianity had leaked into some of the ruling class and some tried to claim the faith without understanding what the faith really was or what it meant. Lent ensured new baptismal candidates really knew about Jesus, knew about lostness without him, and knew the real cost of the commitment of following him. So here we are looking at Lent, preparing for Easter, examining ourselves in light of who Jesus is, the salvation he brings us, and the price he paid and our commitment to him because of it.

This morning in my devotions, I ran across these words: “In the beginning, there was power.” I’d never used those words about the creation story myself, but of course they are true. We understand the incredible forces resident in our universe. We understand because of our scientific knowledge, how the sun continues to shine and give us the light and warmth we require to survive. The fusion explosions that continually fuel the sun and enable life in this very narrow band of our solar system in which we thrive provides enormous energy.

We sometimes discuss nuclear power and how little fuel it takes to power cities with the energy those plants produce. They are certainly dangerous when not properly controlled because of the radiation they can produce, but the raw energy that can come from those tiny amounts of material compared to every other form of energy production is phenomenal. Someday we will figure out how to harness that power more safely and use it worldwide as our best sources of power instead of fossil fuels and other lesser forms of energy production.

But back to creation. Can you imagine the power of the sun times billions of stars like it stretched across our galaxy that we call the Milky Way? Now can you imagine billions of those galaxies like ours stretched across the universe? Our God made those. The Bible tells us he just spoke them into place. Out of nothing. His imagination and his voice created those powerhouses. Just like that. He spoke and it was done. His power created all there is. Some would have you believe it all just happened. That given enough time, all the universe would shape itself into what we have today because of the laws of physics.

The problem with that theory is the thermodynamic property called entropy. Left alone, things tend to become more chaotic, not less. Enough monkeys on enough typewriters will not produce a novel. They will produce nothing but garbage. It’s like the parts of a watch put into a bag and shaken. You’ll never get a watch, only bits of metal that look more like sand than a watch over time. The universe and the power needed to keep it in place requires a designer, a creator. It didn’t just happen.

And where did the raw materials come from in the first place? Now there is a good argument with the “it just happened crowd.” Something had to generate all the atoms that made everything begin. All those hydrogen atoms in the sun that smash together into helium atoms that smash together into larger atoms that smash together into larger atoms that then smash together into molecules that smash together to make something you can see, like water and dirt, had to come from somewhere. So where did it come from unless someone or something created that first hydrogen atom in the first place. Something coming from nothing? Think designer. Think creator. Think God. Think power beyond our ability to think or imagine. He spoke it into place.

The trouble we have today is we are sometimes to smart for our own good. We have discovered all these neat scientific rules to explain how things work. God gave us a pretty nice brain sitting in that bony skull. We only use about 10-15% of its capacity other scientists tell us, but that’s beside the point. The part that we use often makes us rather inquisitive. We want to know about things. What they are. How they work. How we can use things better. What alternative uses can we make of them?

Our inquisitive minds helped us discover all those physics principles, but we didn’t create those principles, we just discovered them. That’s a very important point. We didn’t make the rules. God did. Scientists didn’t cause the world and the universe to operate the way it does, they just discovered some of the mechanics to explain how they work. And they keep modifying those rules because we learn more about them everyday because we still understand so little about how everything really works together in this vast universe. Scientists have a hard time agreeing on things a lot of times. It wasn’t until the late 1500s that we figure out everything in our solar system revolves around our nearest star, the sun, instead of revolving around us! That was a pretty self centered view of the world, but that’s just who we are.

So here we are in the middle of Lent. Three more weeks until Easter. And the thought of the day is “in the beginning there was power.” Power that puts the universe around us into place. Power that creates the laws of physics that keeps order in that universe rather than letting the law of entropy drive those celestial bodies. Power that put this tiny planet in just the right place to sustain life. Power to create that life on the blue planet of our solar system and sustain it. Power to create man and give us the capacity to think and reason. Power to love us and want a relationship with us.

Power to clothe himself in flesh and live among us as an example of how to live and love in community with others. Power to heal and feed thousands. Power to teach what God’s plan and purpose for us. Power to willingly die on a cross to show us the extent of God’s love. Power over death. Power to burst out of a sealed and guarded tomb. Power to appear to over 500 people after his death. Power to ascend to heaven in a cloud. Power to sit at the right hand of God and intervene on our behalf. Power to forgive our sins.

In the beginning there was power. Elohim, the Almighty God. The God of creation. God is the same as he was in the beginning. God will be the same when time stops and eternity stretches on forever. God’s power is beyond our capacity to understand. God was, is, and will be. The Great I Am never changes. His power is available to those who love and serve him. He created us for that purpose. He demands and desires our love. Our devotion. Our worship. He is God, after all. There is no other. He holds the power of creation in his hand.

In this season of Lent as we prepare to celebrate Easter in just a few weeks, think of God’s power. We will sing of his power on that day. Power to overcome death. We will hear sermons on that day. Power to burst forth from the tomb. We will gather to worship the one who demonstrated his power on that first Easter morning 2000 years ago in just a little while. But in these moments. In these few days leading up to our celebration of Easter, take some time to contemplate what God’s power really means. Imagine who he is as Elohim, the Almighty God of creation. Yet came to sacrifice his life that you and I might experience abundant life through him. He shares his incredible, unimaginable power with us, so that we might share his story to those we meet that need his powerful touch.

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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