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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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Richard

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.

Jul 16, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 9, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jul 2, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jun 25, 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.

The question for today? What does anger have to do with fighting your giants?

In fighting Goliath, we’ve seen you need help from God and possibly others. You need to conquer your fear. You need to get over your feelings of rejection. You need to get out of your comfort zone. But what is this about anger?

Well, if you’re like me, every time I’ve worked on a habit I’m trying to change and then that habit pops back up I get angry. Mostly at myself, but sometimes at those around me and even at God.

I don’t know if that has ever happened to you, but if you’ve ever tried to break some habit and failed the first few times, I expect that ugly emotion popped its head up and made its appearance known in some way. Why can’t I just get rid of this thing that hinders me from being the man I want to be, the man God wants me to be? Why can’t I be the perfect husband or father or leader? I think I know what right looks like most of the time, but I just can’t seem to do it sometimes. And so I get angry.

Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s one of those emotions that God put in us. The Bible tells us that even Jesus got angry. Remember the story of Jesus as he entered the temple courtyard and saw the money changers cheating the people who entered? He was not just a little upset at what he saw. He was angry. So angry, in fact, that he overturned the tables where the thieves were sitting. He picked up a whip and drove them out of the temple courtyard. He had some pretty harsh words to say about them and about the leaders that allowed them to carry out their dishonest businesses in the temple. Jesus was beyond man and hit the ceiling of real deep down anger.

So let’s get back to our David and Goliath story. Any anger there? I expect there was a lot of it floating around. Some focused rightly and some not so. If we could put ourselves back into the story, I think we would see Saul’s army angry at Goliath for his taunts, but probably more angry at themselves because they were too cowardly to stand up to him on the battlefield.

Perhaps some of those soldiers were angry with Saul because he had no battle plan to face the Philistines poised across the valley from them. They had fought before and God led them to victory, but here their leader just sat, scared of the forces in front of him. Making them listen to the taunts and blasphemy that spewed from the mouth of this giant. They were angry at their king because they just sat and did nothing.

Maybe the army was angry at God because he didn’t reveal himself to them as he had before. He didn’t come down with any lightning bolts or an earthquake or some other freak sign of nature to destroy their enemies. God just let them be humiliated in the eyes of these pagan warriors that stood across from them.

Then David arrives.

His brothers were angry that he inquired about this giant and why no one dared to fight him. They were angry that he left the sheep in the hands of someone else and shirked his responsibilities at home, leaving their father on his own. They were angry at him because his words made them look a little cowardly. They were angry with him because he dared to recommend actions others wouldn’t take.

Then there is Goliath. He was angry at his enemies. He was angry just because the Israelites were alive and in the land he thought belonged to his people. He was angry because he wanted a fight and none of those cowardly soldiers on the hillside were brave enough to come out and face him. Goliath was angry because his king placed him in the valley as a challenge to the Israelites. He expected to win in a one on one fight, but he could also lose or be injured. As much as he enjoyed killing his enemies, he didn’t relish the thought of another injury in battle. Goliath was angry because once again, the king used his size to intimidate his enemies instead of real battlefield strategies and put him in danger while his fellow soldiers just acted as spectators.

And David. David was angry because his brothers ridiculed him. They tried to belittle the journey he made at his father’s request. David was angry because he felt a little picked on because his brothers had no confidence in him as the youngest in his family. David was angry at the Israelite army because they listened to the taunts of Goliath for 40 days and did nothing to stop his blasphemy. He was especially angry at Goliath because of what he said about his God. He was angry enough to take up his challenge and fight him.

So anger is not always a bad thing as we see from this story. Some of the anger some of these characters reveal is not the right anger. But some is. The soldiers’ anger at Saul for not doing anything is probably justified. Saul needed to listen to God and lead his army to victory against this pagan nation. But he had already lost his connection with God because of his greed and the power he thought he had. Anger focused at Goliath and the Philistines for their blasphemies against God were justified.

Sometimes anger is good. It can get us off our best intentions and get us to take action. It keeps us from accepting things as they are and lets us begin to make things better. But this anger is only good when it is focused on the right thing. If we keep that anger focused on the right things, we can use it to defeat that thing that looks like a giant in our life. We can use that energy and focus to help us get through the apathy that lets that thing keep us discouraged, defeated, trapped in its clutches. We can use the energy that comes with anger to focus our attention on its defeat.

David’s anger at Goliath helped propel that stone with extraordinary strength and accuracy to defeat that giant that stood in his way. David’s anger took the shape of that nine-foot obstacle so he could focus on what his real problem was in that valley. When we can figure out the real problem, not the symptoms, but the problem that is causing us the defeated life we feel, we can focus our anger appropriately.

So as you face the giants in your life, be angry for the right reason. You may be angry at yourself for failing to keep some promise to yourself about some behavior, but remember that if you’re trying to change something, change takes time. It’s usually not instantaneous like most of us would like. Change takes time and effort. Channel anger into constructive activity that will do something about your giant. Use it to give you the energy, passion, impetuous you need to get out of your position of weakness and into a position where you can face those giants from a position of strength.

Let God fight your battles. Recognize that he can help you even with your emotions and can help you focus the energy that comes with anger toward the right things. Anger is one of those emotions we experience from time to time. It is not necessarily unhealthy, as Jesus showed us in the temple. As David showed us as he faced Goliath. But also, we can not let anger rule us or let it get focused on the wrong thing or used as a source of power for revenge or vengeance.

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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