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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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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.

Aug 27, 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 walked away from God in small steps, but he left nonetheless. He walked away slowly enough that he didn’t even know that God was gone.

We’re in Judges 16 now.Samson’s downfall continues. He goes to see a prostitute. The Philistines find out he is there and wait at the city gate throughout the night to seize him at sunrise. Only Samson lifts up the gates, the posts, and the metal rods that lock the gates in place and carries them away in the middle of the night.

Later he falls in love with another prostitute named Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines offer Delilah a pretty good sum of money to find out the secret of Samson’s strength and money is much more important to her than Samson. He keeps his secret for a while and every time he tells her something, the Philistines lie in wait for him, but are defeated by this incredibly strong warrior.

After a while, though, Samson gets tired of Delilah’s nagging and tells her his secret. I find it interesting that Samson keeps telling her these things that might take away his strength when immediately after Delilah’s house is filled with Philistines who have done exactly what Samson told her would defeat him. It seems Samson is either extremely dense or so extraordinarily arrogant that he thinks absolutely nothing can hurt him.

He’s wrong. Remember his three Nazarite rules? Don’t drink alcohol. Already broke that one. Don’t touch anything dead. Already broke that one. Don’t cut your hair. He let that secret out and again let his arrogance think the rules didn’t apply and Delilah brought in a barber while Samson was in a drunken stupor. Three rules. Three strikes. God was gone. Samson didn’t even know it.

You might look at these chapters and think they were big steps. Samson should have known. But I have a feeling it started with little little things. Maybe as a young teenager he broke curfew a few times and got away with it. Maybe he skipped his synagogue lessons and his parents let him off the hook. Maybe he bullied some of the other kids at school or on the playground and no one corrected him.

Little by little, Samson decided he could do whatever he wanted. He lost his morals. He lost his sense of right and wrong. Samson decided he was incharge of himself and could do whatever without any repercussion. We are left with a few snippets of Samson’s life that show us just how corrupt his life had become consorting with the enemy. Violating his vows. Disobeying God’s ordinances. Bowing to his every base desire without thinking of the consequences of his actions.

We can do the same if we are not careful. It can start the same way. We try to get away with the little things. The little things start turning into bigger things. The bigger things turn into things that from the beginning we would never have dreamed we would do.

And parents, Samson’s life is also a lesson to us. Remember what Solomon said in his proverbs? Raise up a child in the way he should go and he won’t depart from it. That means we need to teach our kids to do the right thing. We need to help them understand there are consequences that go along with every action they take. Good action reap good consequences. Bad actions reap bad consequences. It’s just the laws of nature.

If we don’t pay attention to God’s leading, if we don’t listen to his voice and do what he calls us to do, if we fail to obey his commands, we can find ourselves doing exactly what Samson did and then find that God is no longer providing strength, answers, resources. He is gone and you don’t know it. The enemy defeats you, maims you, imprisons you and it all began with little steps that you just never stopped to think would have any consequences.

Learn from Samson.

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.

Aug 20, 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 are still looking at Samson to help us discover some of the characteristic we need to have to succeed in battle against our greatest enemy, the devil. We have learned a lot of what not to do from him and today’s lesson is no different. Let’s look at another example of his poor behavior first from Judges 15.

Samson said to them [the Philistines who killed his wife and her father], “Is that how you act? Then I won’t stop until I pay you back.” He struck them down with heavy blows. He killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave. It was in the rock of Etam.

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah. They spread out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight against us?”

“We’ve come to take Samson as our prisoner,” they answered. “We want to do to him what he did to us.”

then 3,000 men from Judah went to get Samson. They went down to the cave that was in the rock of Team. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines are ruling over us? What have you done to us?”

Samson answered, “I only did to them what they did to me.”

The men of Judah said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up. We’re going to hand yo over to the Philistines.”

Samson said, “Take an oath and promise me you won’t kill me yourselves.”

“We agree,” they answered. “We’ll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes. They led him up from the rock.

Samson approached Lehi. The Philistines came toward him shouting. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. The ropes on his arms became like burned thread. They dropped off his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed hold of it and struck down 1,000 men.

Then Samson said, “By using a donkey’s jawbone

I’ve made them look like donkeys.

By using a donkey’s jawbone

I’ve struck down 1,000 men.”

Samson finished speaking. Then he threw the jawbone away. That’s why the place was called Ramath Lehi.

So what’s so bad about these events, you might ask. Why would I pick out these verses and look at this event to show some of the flaws in Samson’s life?

Remember what is happening to Samson as we move along in the story of his life? First, he went places he wasn’t supposed to go. Then he courted a young woman he wasn’t supposed to court. He because engaged to that woman and planned his marriage knowing he was to have nothing to do with her or her people. Then, Samson fooled around with the carcass of a dead lion that he wasn’t supposed to touch. He was supposed to stay clear of dead stuff, but instead made a mockery of his vows. He was supposed to stay away from alcohol, dead things and alcohol. But what does he do? He eats honey from the carcass of that dead lion, makes a riddle from it for 30 companions the Philistines picked for him and had a bachelor’s party with those 30 pagan men the city of Timnah picked for him.

On top of that, Samson’s anger drives him to kill 30 innocent men to pay the foolish debt he brought on himself and then he runs away from his wife and her family. After abandoning his wife, he returns to find her given to another and takes revenge by destroying the Philistines’ crops. Now he lives in a cave at Etam hiding from those who wish him dead.

Each step along the way, he gets further from the things God would have him do. And worse, he takes credit for the few good things he does. He has managed to devastate some of the enemy through his actions, but he takes credit for it. He doesn’t even acknowledge that God had some part in his success. In this scene, Samson picks up a jawbone and kills 1,000 men. We don’t know how many had the good sense to turn and run away, but Samson was ready to take them on as well, or so he thought. Samson took credit. I’ve killed… I’ve taken revenge… I’ve turned an eye for an eye… I’ve made a mockery of the Philistine strength. Samson’s “I” statements are getting a little monotonous.

He forgot his strength came from the Lord. He forgot he was chosen as a lad to live the vows of the Nazarite. He forgot he was to be an example to the nations around him. Samson forgot he was to lead, not plunder and pillage. Samson forgot Jehovah was God, not him. With each passage we have read, Samson slips a little deeper into the pits of arrogance and self aggrandizement that dooms him.

What about you and me?

How often do we take credit when the credit should really go to our creator? How often to we look at what has been accomplished and assume it is because of our skill and not at the hand of the almighty? How often do we forget to give God the glory and honor for the things he helps us accomplish through his use of us as his instruments of divine intervention? Do we recognize that our strength, our knowledge, our talents and abilities, everything we have and everything we are comes directly from our Father in heaven? Do we stop and consider that all things made in heaven and on earth originate from the creative work of God and that without him there would still be darkness and a vast void? Have we forgotten that in the beginning God created and from that nothingness everything else has blossomed?

Once again, we can learn from Samson things we of which we must beware. We must remember God provides the strength, wisdom, resources, everything we might use to accomplish the tasks we complete. We are nothing without him. He is God. We are not.

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.

Aug 13, 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.

How bad do you have to be for your own to turn you over to the enemy?

Today we’ll look at what happens to Samson after he killed 30 Philistines to pay his debt to his bachelor party companions after they gave him the answer to his riddle. Last week we so how Samson let his emotions get out of control even though it was really his fault all these things were happening to him in the first place. We talked about his anger at everyone but himself, the real culprit in his string of failures.

Today we see the consequences of his actions in Judges 15.

Later on, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him. He went at the time the wheat was being gathered. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father wouldn’t let him go in.

Her father said, “I was sure you really lated her. So I gave her to your friend. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful? Take her instead.”

Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines. I’m going to hurt them badly.”

So he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied them in pairs by their tails. Then he tied a torch to each pair of tails. He lit the torches. He let the foxes loose in the fields of grain that belonged to the Philistines. He burned up the grain that had been cut and stacked. He burned up the grain that was still growing. He also burned up the vineyards and olive trees.

The Philistines asked, “Who did this?” They were told, “Samson did. He’s the son-in-law of the man from Timnah. Samson did it because his wife was given to his friend.”

So the Philistines went up and burned the woman and her father to death.

Samson said to them, “Is that how you act? Then I won’t stop until I pay you back.” He struck them down with heavy blows. He killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave. It was in the rock of Etam.

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah. They spread out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight against us?”

“We’ve come to take Samson as our prisoner,” they answered. “We want to do to him what he did to us.”

Then 3,000 men from Judah went to get Samson. They went down to the cave that was in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines are ruling over us? What have you done to us?”

Samson answered, “I only did to them what they did to me.”

The men of Judah said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up. We’re going to hand you over to the Philistines.”

There it is. Once again Samson goes where he isn’t supposed to go. He does what he isn’t supposed to do. Then wonders why the Philistines want to take him prisoner. Of course the reason is Samson is a criminal. Sure the Philistines did bad stuff, too, but Samson was one of God’s chosen people and a Nazarite to boot. He was to live better a more noble life. He was to keep higher moral standards that the pagans God displaced when he told Joshua to possess the land. He didn’t. Little that Samson did portrayed the kind of behavior God wanted his people to share with the rest of the world.

Samson strayed so far from the moral compass God set for his people, though, that 3,000 men from Judah came to turn him over to the Philistines. Can you imagine that number arriving at your doorstep to tell you that you’re no longer welcome in your own country. You’ve done so much to alienate yourself from your family and friends that 3,000 of your neighbors come to tie you up and make you disappear.

Samson moved further and further from God and didn’t even know it. How could he think it was right to destroy the Philistine crops? How could he think it was right to kill those 30 innocent men to take their clothes from them? How could he think it right to abandon his wife and then go back to reclaim her and expect her father to have done nothing about it in that culture? How could Samson live the way he lived and not expect consequences?

How about you and me? Do we do the same? Do we live apart from God’s will and expect his blessings? Do we live however we choose and expect no retaliation from those we leave in our wake of destruction? Do we think we can act with no consequences?

I’m afraid too often that’s exactly what we do. We buy into the mantra that God is love without also understanding that God is just. He set in place these rules that govern the universe. We understand them in physics and chemistry and math. For instance, we believe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We believe that 2 + 2 will always equal 4. But we have a hard time believing that our actions have consequences, whether good or bad, there are consequences.

Learn from Samson’s mistakes. Understand that life is full of cause and effect rules. When you do something, good or bad, something else will happen that affects you and others around you. Don’t be like Samson.  

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.

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved. In accordance with the requirements for FTC full disclosure, I may have affiliate relationships with some or all of the producers of the items mentioned in this post who may provide a small commission to me when purchased through this site.

Aug 6, 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’s scripture from Judges 14 gives us a peek at how power and arrogance can warp a person’s emotions until wrong seems right. It happened to Samson and if we look around, it is everywhere today. So let’s first look at what God’s word says in Judges 14 starting at verse 11.
When the people saw Samson, they gave him 30 companions.
“Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to the companions. “The dinner will last for seven days. Give me the answer to the riddle before the dinner ends. If you do, I’ll give you 30 linen shirts. I’ll also give you 30 sets of clothes. But suppose you can’t give me the answer. Then you must give me 30 linen shirts. You must also give me 30 sets of clothes.”
“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”
Samson replied, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” For three days they couldn’t give him the answer.
On the fourth day they spoke to Samson’s wife. “Get your husband to explain the riddle for us,” they said. “If you don’t, we’ll burn you to death. We’ll burn up everyone in your family. Did you invite us here to rob us?”
Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him. She sobbed, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You have given my people a riddle. But you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied. “So why should I explain it to you?”
She cried during the whole seven days the dinner was going on. So on the seventh day he finally told her the answer to the riddle. That’s because she kept on asking him to tell her. Then she explained the riddle to her people.
Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town spoke to Samson. They said, “What is sweeter than honey?”
“What is strong than a lion?” Samson said to them, “You have plowed with my young cow.
If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have known the answer to my riddle.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. He went down to Ashkelon. He struck down 30 of their men. He took everything they had with them. And he gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Samson was burning with anger as he went up to his father’s house.
What were Samson’s rules? Don’t drink alcohol. He went on a seven day binge with 30 companions the town gave him for his bachelor party and he partied every day of those seven days. Don’t touch anything dead. He ate honey from that dead lion carcass, then made a riddle  of it when he was to have nothing to do with dead stuff. Only his third rule was intact, but we know that would not be intact for much longer.
Samson broke the rules and then was angry with everyone else when things went wrong. Just like we do. We think the rules apply to the other guy and then get mad at the world when things don’t work out the way we think they should.
We skimp on our work, just getting by with what we’re told to do and wonder why we are part of the crowd that gets a pink slip when the company downsizes. We gossip and bad mouth authority and leadership in general on our facebook page and wonder why the HR department didn’t even consider our resume. We fudge on our income tax filing and wonder why we pay heavily when we’re caught up in an audit. We pass through a really, really orange light at the intersection and wonder why the police stop us for running a red light. We travel along with a string of cars doing 70 in a 55 zone and wonder why we’re the one that gets the ticket.
What do we do? We get angry at the boss. We get angry at the government. We get angry at the HR department of that inhumane business. We get angry at the IRS. We get angry at that policeman. We get angry at the world and its unfair practices.
Well, the world isn’t fair. It’s full of sin and evil and corruption. But sometimes we bring on problems on ourselves. That’s what Samson did. He wasn’t supposed to be in Timnah in the first place. He wasn’t supposed to be engage to a Philistine woman. He wasn’t supposed to touch that dead lion after he killed it. He wasn’t supposed to get drunk with a bunch of enemy companions the city put at that bachelor’s party. He wasn’t supposed to murder 30 innocent men to pay a stupid debt he created by his inability to control his emotions.
Emotions are fickle things. We all have them, but if Samson’s parents had begun to teach Samson how to control his emotions at an early age, this might not have happened. If Samson had listened to the teachings of his elders and obeyed the laws God put in place to protect his chosen people from the idolatry and bending to every sensual pleasure Satan put in from of him, this might not have happened. If the Samson had the personal integrity to pay his debt, regardless where those companions got the answer, this would not have happened. And by the way, they got the answer from him because he could not resist his nagging wife. Who, by the way, again, was only trying to save her life and her family’s lives.
So, do you blow up at the wrong things? Do you participate in things you know you shouldn’t and then blame someone else when things go all wrong? Do you get angry at everyone but yourself? Is your life like it is because someone else made it that way and it would be so much better if only…”
That is where Samson was in his head and in his heart. It cost him everything. His integrity, his morals, his vows, his faith, his family. Ultimately it cost him is life. Learn from Samson. No one can make you feel the way you do except you. Do others have influence? Sure. But only you can emote anger or joy or peace or turmoil or calm or chaos or any emotion you can name. You are responsible for your emotions and no one else. So if you want to blame someone for the way you feel today, be sure to have a mirror handy.
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 30, 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.

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

Don’t put your hands where they don’t belong. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? We’ve all heard the dilemma of the kid getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Not quite smart enough to let go of the cookie so it could extract his hand and escape. Have you put your hands where they don’t belong? Do you give in to your cravings knowing you not supposed to have whatever it is you crave?

Let’s take a look at Samson and learn something about how to win the war we’re in every day. As you look back at the very beginning of Samson’s life, his parents were told to raise him as a Nazarite. That meant he had three rules to follow. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t touch anything dead. Don’t cut his hair. Simple, right? Not like the 612 rules the Israelites were supposed to follow in Jesus’ day. Just three simple things that you really can’t mix up.

So let’s read a little further in Judges 14. Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with this bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.

Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and init he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.

I’ve skipped over an important part of the story dozens of times in my life. I’ve always concentrated on the part about Samson’s amazing strength. What a brave and powerful guy to be able to take on a lion with no weapons and just tear it apart. I always thought Tarzan was pretty awesome fighting a lion with just a knife. But at least he had a knife. Samson took this hungry lion on and tore it to pieces.

That’s what I’ve always focused on. But as I read these verse this time, something jumped out at me. Remember Samson’s rules? Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t touch anything dead. Don’t cut his hair. Well, this lion had been dead for a while. Samson was taking his parents to Timnah. If you remember from last week, that’s a city he was not supposed to go to. His father and mother were going with him to talk to the parents of a Philistine woman Samson had seen and wanted for his wife. Another rule all of Israel knew and understood. Two strikes.

Now, Samson goes over to the lion he killed several days earlier and sees a bee hive and honey in the hive. As you can imagine, it takes a while for bees to build a hive and a while longer to produce enough honey so three people can eat it. So that lion was not warm and freshly dead. It was really dead. And what was Samson’s second rule as a Nazarite? Don’t touch anything dead. I guess he forgot that one as he manhandled that carcass and grabbed that honey. Rules are just for other people to keep, right? He was special and they didn’t apply to him, right?

Samson’s idea of obedience just keeps getting worse and worse. He digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself. How would you like to eat honey from the carcass of a dead lion anyway? Maybe that’s why he didn’t tell his father and mother where he got it. I don’t think I’d want to eat it.

So what can we learn from Samson’s life?

We, like Samson, have some simple rules we need to follow to keep chaos out of our lives. Simple things that God wants of us to keep us out of trouble. Too often, we think those simple little rules are for everyone else, though. I can bypass that one. It doesn’t apply to me. I can bend this one a little just once, can’t I?

What makes us act like that? Why have we been breaking rules since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Another simple answer. There is sin in the world and we are basically selfish. We want what we want and that’s about it. Usually we see something bright and shiny in the middle of that rule and we want it more than keeping the rule and keeping our relationship with God and our fellow man pure.

Samson couldn’t resist the honey. Sweet honey was more important to Samson than keeping his Nazarite vow. I mean what was so special about not touching anything dead anyway. It didn’t matter to all the other Israelites. What was so important about this particular rule for him? If God had given him such great power, what hold could a carcass have on him? And it’s just this once for something that tastes so good. God would understand. God wants us to be happy, doesn’t he?

Samson rationalized his behavior and broke the rules. Just like we do. And just like Samson, we will pay the consequences of doing so. If you don’t want to end up like Samson, it’s simple, just obey the rules God gives you. That’s it. Not complicated. Just do it.  

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 23, 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’s downfall started way before he met. Let’s take a look at why he started to fall and how we might be similar. So here’s something to ask yourself before we take a look at Samson. How often do you lust after something. Lust isn’t confined to sexual things, but for the men out there, do you flip through the channels and stop on one too long because you saw a skimpily clad woman on one of those channels? Ladies, do you obsess over a piece of jewelry or clothes or makeup or some other material thing.

You can lust over almost anything. And usually, that lust starts because you find yourself in a place you shouldn’t be in the first place, right? You shouldn’t have stopped on that channel. You shouldn’t have stared at fashion magazine. You shouldn’t have been in that part of town. You shouldn’t have stayed around that group of people when conversations started going the wrong way.

So let’s go back to Samson. Judges chapter 14. Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”

His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”

But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)

So what do we find out about Samson in those few verses?

First, he was in a place he shouldn’t have been. Timnah was in the heart of Philistine territory. That was the enemy’s camp. What did he think he was doing? Those places were off limits to God’s people. God didn’t want his chosen to have anything to do with the pagan populations across the land. The reason the Israelites were in this predicament in the first place. They didn’t destroy all those pagan symbols and idols as they went through those battles. God told them to, but they didn’t. It started at Jericho when Achen kept some of the silver and clothes and hid them in his tent. And just like Achen, in battle after battle, someone just couldn’t believe God meant what he said and thought they knew better than he did. They didn’t obey his commands and so the nation paid the price.

Samson was amazingly strong. His parents raised him as a Nazarite, someone special, set aside for God’s work. Someone with more constraints that even the priests. He was born to rule. His parents raised him well. But we all have a choice and he made some poor ones. Samson went to Timnah. And there his eyes began to wander and he saw a Philistine woman that caught his eye. He wanted her as his wife.

Mistake number two. Samson knew and his parents knew Israelites were supposed to marry among their people. Marriage outside the tribe was forbidden. Why did God put that rule in place? Take a look at every marriage to someone from one of the pagan nations around them. The bride or groom brought their pagan gods with them and it wasn’t long before the household was worshiping that pagan god. Then the worship of that pagan god spread to other neighbors and friends. The clan just couldn’t figure out Jehovah didn’t bless them. They forgot he was a jealous God and would not allow them to worship anyone but him.

But Samson, he lusted after this pagan woman and didn’t care if she belonged to the tribe or not. He didn’t care if she was one of the enemy. He didn’t care if it violated one of God’s rules for his people. He didn’t care that marrying her might lead to disaster as had every other marriage outside the rules God set for his people.

Mistake number three, Samson’s parents quit acting like parents and Samson broke another of God’s commands. One of those ten written on the tablets God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. Remember the one that says honor your father and mother so your years may be long? Samson’s parents tried to get Samson to marry someone from Israel, but Samson pitched a small fit and his parents quit exercising their authority and gave into him.

There’s a mistake we see all too often today. Johnny pitches a fit and parents give in. Parents want to be their kid’s friend instead of being a parent. Proverbs tells parents to raise children in the way they should go. That doesn’t meant let them do what they want. Is it hard. Yep, sometimes it is. But our role is to be a parent, not a friend. And in Samson’s day, without his parents securing the arrangement, there would have been no marriage between Samson and the Philistine from Timnah. If they had said no, Samson might have pitched a fit, but if they held their ground and been good parents, in their day, there would have been no marriage. As simple as that.

And if Samson had listen to his parents’ early request to marry someone within Israel, he wouldn’t have gotten into the mess he did. The footnote the writer gives us says the Lord set all this in motion, but sometimes I’m not sure God really did that. I’m sure he used it by turning the bad to good. But I’m not sure Israel had a very mature understanding of God at that point as they blamed God for Samson’s disobedience. He made bad choices just like we do. And he paid the consequences for his bad choices, just like we do.

So there they are in those first four verses of Judges 14. Bad choices. Samson purposely went to places he knew he shouldn’t have gone. He let his eyes stray and lusted after someone (or something) he know he shouldn’t have. And he failed to honor his parents by listening to their choice for his marriage. Then as a side note, his parents quit acting like parents.

Now take a look at yourself. You know reading and studying God’s word is really worthless if we don’t apply what is says to ourselves. So here are some things that we need to ask ourselves in this fight we wage every day against the devil.

Do I know my weaknesses and where Satan will try to tempt me?

Do I stay away from those places I know will tempt me in my weakest areas?

Do I lust after things that I know might affect my relationship with God?

Do I listen to the sage advice of my elders and especially my parents, understanding they have gone before me and have my best in mind?

Do I pay attention to God’s word and follow his commands to the very best of my ability?

A little introspection in those areas might just keep you from falling into the consequences Samson suffered. He did some great things for Israel, but he also spent a lot of time suffering because of his failures. Learn from him.

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