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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

Oct 2, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 5, You Version Bible app, days 29 through 35.

In my younger days I thought Leviticus a really boring book of the Bible. I’ll have to admit, it’s still not my favorite, but I’ve come to appreciate its rules and regulations a lot more as I’ve come to understand the bigger picture of God’s Story and His plan for us.

You see, the big picture of God’s story is His incredible desire to live face to face with us. But there is this problem we created. We brought sin into the world. We broke that relationship with Him and He has been working to get it back. But God cannot live where there is sin. So His Story tells us how He is working through history to exact His plan to bring us back into that perfect relationship that existed in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve chose to disobey Him.

An interesting concept we need to understand about having an intimate relationship with God, though, is this. If expect to get along with God, we must be able to get along with each other. My kids hated time out growing up. They knew the rules of the house and when they broke them, that was often where they ended up...timeout. Sitting on the sidelines instead of participating in whatever was going on around them. But my wife and I wanted to have a relatively peaceful home. In fact, I’m not sure my kids ever heard me holler at them. That doesn’t mean I’m the best parent in the world. I was absent a lot because of military service. So much of their good character is my wife’s fault. But she and I decided early that we would enforce the rules and from a very early age, they learned there were consequences for breaking the rules.

Kids need fences. They need to know what the limits are and they need to know those limits are firm. When the boundaries change every day, they get confused. They will test those limits and push them as far as you will let them. Never learning there are consequences for disobedience until one day it is too late and the consequences are much greater than either the child or the parent ever expected.

The same is true for adults, though. We need boundaries, too. We need rules as surely as our children do if we expect to live in community with other people. And that’s why God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai those centuries ago.

The last six of the commandments are not unique. Many cultures had those same rules imposed on their people. It’s how communities ensured people got along with each other. Respect your parents, don’t murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or covet the things someone else owns. These six commands keep us in check with those that live around us.

The first four commandments were unique to this new nation God was building through His chosen people led by Moses. Keep God first, don’t make any idols or images, honor and respect His name, and set aside a day each week to remember and worship Him. These four rules keep our vertical relationship in perspective. The last four keep our horizontal relationships right.

But we grouse at the commandments. Why do we need rules? Why can’t I do my own thing? Well, we want rules for everyone but me. That’s the thing. In our selfishness, the very core of sin, we want something that holds everyone else in check but don’t want to be bound by those same expectations. And that’s the problem. We don’t want anyone speeding past our yard when the kids are playing, but we don’t want that ticket when we are guilty of the same crime. After all, I’m in complete control of my car at all times, right? I know what I’m doing, right? Wrong.

God gave us the commandments so we could get along with each other. They model the relationship that exists within the trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit have existed eternally living within these boundaries and know that we can only get along when we observe these same boundaries. So God sets limits on our behavior to help us live in community with each other so that He might restore our community with Him. He wants so desperately to return to those walks in the garden with us.

The rules also told Moses how to build a place for God to stay. He wanted to be right in the middle of this new nation, so Moses constructed a tabernacle, a big tent, for God. If you read about the layout of the camp, the tabernacle was right in the middle of those three million people. Three tribes on the north, three tribes on the east, three tribes on the south, and three tribes on west with the tabernacle smack dab in the middle of the camp. That was where God wanted to be in regard to His new nation.

But the tabernacle also had to be built to perfect specifications. Special wood, special materials, special utensils, special dimensions. Even special people doing the work and handling everything associated with His new house. In fact, the priests could not even go inside because of their sin. God is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin and will not live in the presence of sin. So when His house was built, not even the priests could go inside when He was present.

Sin was a problem. God gave Moses instructions on how to allow the priest to come into His special sacred spot once a year. He gave him a way for atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. A perfect lamb was sacrificed and its blood shed in atonement for sin.

God pointed toward this act back in the Garden of Eden when He killed some animals and took their skins to make clothing for Adam and Eve. These rules for atonement, shedding the blood of an innocent animal point to something bigger coming when He sacrifices His own son for us. But it tells us the innocent pay for our sin. That’s pretty bad. Adam’s offspring, us, pay the consequences of Adam’s disobedience.

Do you ever think your sins might be hidden? Guess again, the innocent pay for your sins. Your spouse, your children, your neighbors. The innocent pay for your disobedience. And oh, by the way, you pay for the disobedience of someone else! You see we are all in this together. We have to learn to get along. God gave us those rules for a reason. He wants desperately to live among us and walk with us in His garden. But until we can get along with each other, we can never get along with Him.

Jesus said it in answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” “Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” If we can’t love our neighbor who we can see. If we can’t live with each other? How can we expect to live with a holy God?

Why did God give us the Ten Commandments? To show us how the trinity lives and how we should live in community. They prepare us in the furtherance of His bigger picture to live with us again in His perfect dwelling place.

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 25, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 4; You Version Bible app, days 22 through 28

We continue our journey through the story examining another of the stories that almost everyone has heard. In fact, almost everyone can tell you the book that contains the story. It’s found in the book of Exodus, an interesting compound Greek word that means “the way out.”

Today I want us to focus on the hero of the story as we have focused on the unlikely heroes in the first weeks of our study. Adam and Eve were unlikely heroes because of their disobedience. Abraham was an unlikely hero, picked by God to be the father of the nation of Israel through which all the nations of the world would be blessed. Joseph, a slave and prison, who God chose to become the second in command of the mighty nation of Egypt. All unlikely heroes. People you and I would never choose if we were God. But then we are not God. He chooses people whose hearts are in the right place, not who necessarily have it all together.

So it is with today’s story. Who would choose Moses as the savior of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt? Yes, he was miraculously saved from Pharaoh’s destruction of the male children born to the slaves as they continued to increase in population. Yes, he was raised in Pharaoh’s palace as a young man. But Moses was a murderer. Moses had a price on his head. Moses couldn’t speak well and many scholars think he might have suffered from some sort of speech impediment and had difficulty being understood. Moses was an outlaw living in the wilderness making sure no one recognized him, tending sheep, just to stay alive.

What did Moses have that would make him the hero of the story? Why would God choose him to be the leader of the nation and call him to face Pharaoh to pronounce His judgment on Egypt to free His chosen people from their centuries of slavery? Why would God ask someone with a speech impediment to be His spokesman? This just doesn’t make sense, does it?

But there he was, tending his father-in-law’s sheep, when God spoke to him from a blazing bush that wasn’t consumed by the fire. Bizarre! We would see Moses as much more a hindrance than a help. But God saw something else. He saw a man committed to Him. He saw a man He could use as an instrument of His grace and mercy. He saw a man through whom He could demonstrate His justice and His redemption because He saw Moses’ heart.

Was Moses perfect? No. Not by a long shot. We already said he was a murderer. He was a coward, running into the desert when confronted by his countrymen. He even did things after God called him as Israel’s leader that kept him out of the promised land. Remember the story of Moses striking the rock to get water out of it instead of doing what God said and speaking to the rock? That might not sound like a big deal to you, but to God that was disobedience to His command. That’s pretty serious, don’t you think? That was just like Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden when God said don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They didn’t do what God said. God told Moses, “Speak to the rock and get water out of it.” Moses didn’t do what God said and his punishment, like Adam and Eve’s was banishment from the promised lan. Moses wasn’t perfect. He had his struggles and his faults just like you and I. But he knew to whom he could go when he did wrong. Unlike Adam and Eve, he didn’t hide, but rather he confessed and laid himself before God in repentance. He opened himself to the God of the universe and kept that intimate relationship between His God and himself. And that’s why God used him in such a miraculous way.

There were still consequences for Moses’ disobedience. We still have consequences for our sin. We pay a price for the wrongs we commit. God sometimes removes the consequences, but most often does not in the physical world we live in. We suffer and struggle in this broken world because we live in a world filled with sin. But when we follow Him and obey His teachings, we experience far fewer of the negative consequences that come with wrong actions. Right living brings good consequences. Wrong living brings bad consequences. It just makes sense.

This week, if you follow the reading in “The Story”, chapter 4 or the smartphone app You Version reading plan Engaging God’s Story days 23 through 29, you will see just how God uses this unlikely hero as an instrument for the salvation of His people. It’s pretty exciting stuff.

The readings also remind me that God can use the most unlikely people, even you and me, to carry out the most incredible events. He might not use you to change the world like He did with Moses, but then again He might. Moses was 80 when he stood before the burning bush. Abraham was 100 when Isaac, the promised son was born. God doesn’t pay attention to age or bank accounts or social status or race or nationality or any of the things we might think are important in being a hero or world changer. God pays attention to hearts. He wants people who are devoted to Him. And when He finds that person, He can use him or her to do what others think impossible.

We’ve already seen that in the characters we’ve explored just in these few days of reading God’s Story. But hold on. There is a lot more ahead. God has a plan and it is unfolding just as He expects. You can be part of moving His plan forward or you can futilely try to push against it. It’s your choice which side you choose. But He is God and will not and can not fail because He is God and we are not. No matter how hard we might try to push against His will, His plan, He wins...every time. So which side will you choose? Yours or His? It’s really not hard to make the smart choice, so why do so many choose the wrong one? Which one do you choose?

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 18, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 3; You Version app, days 15 through 21

This week you’ll read the story of Joseph. You probably remember much of his story if you’ve been around the church. Even if you don’t know much about the Bible, you’ve probably heard something about Joseph. The story of Joseph and his multicolored coat even made Broadway.

But we need to look at Joseph’s story the way it fits into God’s story. Remember we’ve been talking about the difference between the lower story we live in and the upper story God plans. We can’t see farther than the moments we live in. We can’t see around the bend in the road to know how the events of today will really impact our lives tomorrow. But God sees the panorama of eternity. He knows how ever moment of our lives, every moment of suffering, can be turned into good for us.

Joseph could not understand how his brothers selling him into slavery could be good for him. But God knew how he would use it. Joseph didn’t understand how being accused of rape and thrown into prison could be a good thing. But God knew how he would use that horrible event that could mean Joseph’s execution to save the nation He promised to build through Abraham.

Joseph didn’t understand how the broken promise of the baker and his languishing in an Egyptian death row prison could be anything but bad, but God knew how that event would eventually put Joseph in front of Pharaoh at just the right moment to make Joseph second in command of the whole kingdom and become the salvation for not only Egypt, but many of the surrounding nations as well.

Joseph had dreams as a teenager that he would rule his brothers and parents. Those dreams seemed to be dashed when his brothers sold him into slavery. He couldn’t see the big picture of God’s upper story. All he could see at any given moment were the days of suffering in slavery or prison. But Joseph kept his eyes turned upward and trusted God.

That’s why when his brothers came to get food from Egypt during the famine that hit the region he could tell them, “It was not you that did this, but God did it to save all of us.” His brothers might have meant to do Him evil, but God had a bigger view and turned that evil into good and saved Israel through those actions. God’s plans cannot be thwarted.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened had Joseph’s brothers not thrown him into the pit and sold him into slavery. Would Joseph still become the leader of the nation? Probably. God set him apart as revealed in the dreams he had a young man. There was something special about Joseph that God saw that few others did. It caused a lot of friction in his family and as a teenager, he didn’t handle it very well. Neither did his father.

The obvious favoritism in Jacob’s family created horrible internal family dynamics. I can’t imagine the difficulties a family counselor would have trying to straighten that crowd out. The jealousy, infighting, favoritism...everything that all the books tell you creates a bad family happened in that one.

Maybe God let all that happen to get Joseph away from the continued influence of the family dynamic in Jacob’s family. Maybe God needed to teach Joseph some humility through suffering before he could become the great leader God knew he could be.

We don’t know how God works or why we go through the things we do because we can only see the lower story. We see linearly and have all those obstacles in the way. We have to pay our bills, eat, go to work, deal with all of our own family dynamics and our neighbors and our co-workers and church members and, well, ...life. We are stuck in this two dimensional view of life and cannot see what is next.

God on the other hand sees all. He is not bound by time. He exists eternally. Past, present, and future. He can see around the bend and can intervene in our lives to make His dreams collide with our lives to make sure His plans are carried out.

Often we have dreams as kids or as teenagers that God plants in our heads and we let life destroy them just as Joseph did. I doubt if he thought he would ever become a ruler after he was sold into slavery. I doubt if he thought his dreams would ever come true after he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. I imagine he set those dreams aside and just worked as hard as he could knowing that is would God would expect of him.

But those dreams did materialize for him as he followed God’s ways. Have you ever thought that God might use you the same way? That all things really do work for good for those that love Him and work according to His purpose? They do. There are many examples we will continue to see as we continue to read through God’s story. But remember the two conditions that go along with God’s promise.

First, we must love Him. And second, we must work according to His purpose. That means He must come first. Does your checkbook show that He comes first in your life or does God just get leftovers? Does your calendar reflect your love for God? Do your social activities show God is first in your life? Does your library and reading and listening habits show that you want to hear God’s voice more than anyone else in your daily communications?

God’s promises are almost always conditional. If you don’t really love God and don’t work according to His purposes (not your own), don’t expect this promise from Romans chapter 8 to apply to you. God might do some good things for you just because He is a gracious God, but the promise doesn’t apply. Don’t expect it.

But if you do love Him. If your life reflects you love for Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, you can be assured everything that happens in your life will work toward something good in your life. I can’t tell you when or how, but God’s promise applies to you and He never breaks His promises.

Just like with Joseph, all things work for good. He spent 22 pretty tough, rotten years suffering at the hands of his brothers and then at the hands of masters and prison guards. But he then spent 71 years as Pharaoh’s second in command. No one had more authority in the known world at the time except Pharaoh himself. He traded 22 rough years for 71 years of luxury in Pharaoh’s palace. God turned bad into good. Both for Joseph and for the nation God was building through the covenant He made those years earlier with Abraham.

Do you have some old dreams that don’t seem to be happening? Maybe you just can’t see around the bend. Look up. God works in the upper story. Follow His will. Work toward His purposes. Love Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. He works in ways we will never comprehend. Like with Joseph, God can turn our dreams into His dreams and His are so much beyond what we could ever imagine.

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 11, 2017

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.

Welcome back to our study of “The Story,” God story of His plan to bring us back to Him. Last week we talked about the Garden of Eden, why we are no longer in it, the curse of evil we all inherited because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey, and God’s working to redeem us - to bring us back into fellowship with Him. The story of the Garden is the first of five major movements in God’s word, His story. Today we begin the second movement, the birth of the nation of Israel.

Bible Reading Plan - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a> - or Genesis chapters 12-35

When I was a kid, I’ll have to admit I wasn’t the most athletic person in my community. I was always the geek. Loved reading and science and math. I enjoyed learning more than running around outside getting all hot and sweaty. So one of the things I remember about that time of my life are the games we had to play in school in which someone was made the captain of each side and those captains began to choose their team from all the kids around them. If I wasn’t the last person picked, I was next to last just about every time.

I just wasn’t very good at sports and so I never got picked early. I could write well, debate, take tests of all kinds and perform at the top of the class in those areas. But sports? Not so much.

A strange thing happened on one of those fields one day, though. One of the best players on the field was a friend. On this particular day, he was chosen as the captain of one of the teams. I was at the back of the crowd of kids trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.Trying not to be as embarrassed as usual. I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on at the front of the crowd because I knew I’d be one of the last one’s whose name was called.

But my friend, the captain that day, made the first pick and he called my name. He had to call it twice, though, because I was in shock. No one picked me first. The other captain called a name and then my friend called the name of the second least likely to be asked to play. Then when he called the third name for his team, it was another geek, least likely to play any kind of sport. And that’s how it went until everyone was picked.

I don’t even remember what the score was at the end of the softball game that day, but I remember being called first when teams were formed. I also remember we didn’t win the game, but all of us on that team played our hearts out for our captain. He broke the cultural traditions and put together the worst team you could imagine.

God’s story, beginning at Genesis 12, tells of the selection of two unlikely people. If we were trying to build a nation, we wouldn’t pick Abram and Sarai. We would probably find the son of some wealthy king and spark a new nation from him. We would probably look at the pedigree of those who applied and like the majority of the world, we would peruse all those resumes to pick the very best couple we could to form this new nation.

But God’s story is a little different. He chooses some of the most unlikely people to carry out His plan so there is no question about His intervention in the story. Abraham and Sarah (God changed their names along the way) were old. She was barren. They had no children. How was a great nation to start from an old couple with no children. He was already well past retirement age when his son Isaac was born. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90.

Then about fifteen years later, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son. The heir to his property. The one who was promised as the means of building a new nation that would bless all the other nations of the world.

These 20 plus chapters in Genesis tell the story of how God chooses the way my friend did that day on the field. There is one really important difference, though. On the softball field, that broken team didn’t play very well. We played hard, but we lost. But when God chooses someone to carry out His work, when we do what He asks, the plan never fails. The plan doesn’t fail because God doesn’t fail. He intends to use men and women like Abraham and Sarah to bless others.

Was Abraham perfect after God chose him? Not by a long shot. That’s one of the things that’s different about His Story. He tells us the good and the bad about the heroes in scripture. God’s story doesn’t hide the disappointment, the disobedience, the sin in the lives of those upon whom His kingdom is built. It’s one of those “tell all” kinds of stories. We see behind the curtain and see all the warts and wrongs and brokenness of those God chooses to do His work.

What that tells me, when I read stories of Abraham and his deceit with Pharaoh or the story of Jacob lying to his father and stealing his brother’s birthright or the story of Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law, is that God can use all the people the world would never pick. He looks at the back of the crowd at those who are least likely to succeed. He finds those who the world would snub their nose and question why God would think to use “that person.”

God knows what He is doing, though. God works through some of the least likely for two reasons, I think. First, when those least likely carry out His plan and others around see the success of God’s work through the efforts of the least likely to succeed, there can be no question that God is part of the plan. There is just no other way to explain how things work because we cannot see around the bend in the road. We can’t see how everything will work because we live in the lower story of God’s word while He operates in the upper story.

God not only sees what’s ahead, but intervenes to make sure His plans happen as He intends. Second, when we read about people like Judah and Jacob and Abraham and the mistakes they made yet were honored by God when they returned and followed Him, we can understand that God can use you and me too. He can take us with all our warts, all our brokenness, all our failures and turn us into instruments of His love and part of His great plan.

The question is whether we will be part of His plan or fighting against His plan. The choice is ours to make. God won’t force us to follow Him or accept Him as our redeemer. He won’t push us to do something we refuse to do. He will let us choose our own path. But we also suffer the consequences of taking the wrong path. He tells us how best to live. His word gives us instruction on how to get along with others, how to succeed in life. How to treat our children and our spouse. How to find Him and His redemptive power in our lives. But still, God lets us choose. He knows the best path for us and if we will look up and follow Him, He will show us which path to take. But we still get to choose whether we will take it or not.

So here we are at the beginning of the nation of Israel. God made it possible for Abraham to bless the world through his offspring. Abraham decided to accept God’s offer and to follow Him. You can look at the first chapter of the New Testament and discover just how blessed the world is because of Abraham’s faithfulness. Jesus is his descendant. Both Mary and Joseph trace their heritage back to this man who decided to trust God and follow the path He laid out.

So what can you do? Can you change the world for God? No. Neither could Abraham. But God can change the world through you just as He changed the world through Abraham. An unlikely candidate for greatness, but God change that in Abraham. You might think you are an unlikely candidate for greatness. But God can use you to carry out His plans and make all things good as you carry out His purpose in your part of His creation.

So what will it be?

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 4, 2017

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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com

I’m back and happy to be sharing with you again after a brief interlude with work and family.

My church, San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene, begins a new series September 11 called The Story. Some of you may be familiar with The Story and may have even been through its 31 week study. In our church, through this series, every class and every sermon, and we hope every family and person will focus on The Story. So in keeping with the theme of my church, I will be sharing devotionals aligned with next Sunday’s sermon and small group discussions.

So today we start at the beginning of life as we know it found in Genesis chapters 1-8. I won’t get into discussions about whether we live on a young earth or an old earth. I won’t try to give you any scientific information on how all of this came into being. I won’t argue points about the size and scope of the universe or debate the physical properties and mathematical equations that explain the delicate balance of how life can exist at only this spot in our solar system. But I will tell you that every civilization, every religion tells the story of creation. And our Bible begins it this way: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

At the end of those verses that outline the order of creation beginning with God’s spoken word to separate light from darkness, each creative act carries the same pronouncement. “God looked at His handiwork and said ‘It is good.” The earth He created, the living things that populate it, plants and animals and even man are all celebrated as good. God created them, so how could they be otherwise?

There is another important verse near the beginning of that creation narrative that helps us understand what the Bible, The Story, is really all about. It is found in Genesis 3:8, “Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was the coolest time of the day.”

We will get to the rest of that verse in a moment, but it’s important to recognize what God is doing here. He desired to be with Adam and Eve. He also desires to be with us. It was God’s routine to meet with those first inhabitants of the earth and He walked with them in the garden each day.

You see, God’s greatest desire, His greatest passion, the thing He longs for is a relationship with the men and women He creates. You’ll find that the rest of The Story, from that first verse in Genesis until the closing verse in Revelation lays out for us God’s passion to have an intimate relationship with each of us.

God walked with Adam and Eve. They saw Him face to face. He communed with them as they cared for this creation He put into place. It was perfect when He designed it. In the beginning, there was no pain, no heartache, no tears, no death, no evil. The garden was the place God came to meet with the highest of His creation.

But in that third chapter of Genesis we find that Adam and Eve chose to disregard God’s instructions. They made the choice to disobey. And their act brought evil and death and the destruction to God’s good work. We brought pain and heartache and tears and death and evil into the world by our choosing. Ever since that first act of disobedience, we have lived out the last of Genesis 3:8, “The the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It wa the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

Adam and Eve could no longer face the perfect, holy God when their hearts were filled with disobedience and evil. So they hid. They covered their nakedness with fig leaves. They tried to get away from the One who desired to be with them. The rest of The Story, God’s Story, tells of His pursuit of us. We are still His creation and He still longs to walk with us.

God from this point on put a plan in place to redeem us. He wants us back. But He is still a holy God and will not tolerate evil. He made us this promise, though. One day He said He will recreate the earth. He will destroy this one and put in its place a new heaven and new earth. The new one will be better than this one because Satan will be banished. There will once again be no tears, no pain, no death, no evil. And we will once again see God face to face in that perfect recreated garden.

From the fall through the rest of The Story, God makes a way for those who follow Him. We see it in Adam and Eve’s children, Cain and Abel. God gave Cain a way of escape from the punishment of other men by putting His mark upon Him. God took Enoch to be with Him without experiencing the pain of death as an example of His love and grace. God rescued mankind from total destruction through Noah, a righteous man who followed God in all He did. Throughout His Story, we will see God and work trying to redeem us from the death we brought on ourselves.

But throughout The Story, we will also see that it is always our choice. We choose the path we take. We choose obedience or disobedience. We choose to remain trapped in the heartache and evil that come as a result of the fall. Or we choose to accept His plan of redemption and follow Him.

The first garden, the Garden of Eden was perfect. We destroyed it with our evil choices. Through the centuries to this very day, we continue to destroy God’s creation by our choosing to disobey. But for those who choose to listen to and believe His Story, those who trust in Him and follow His leading, there will be a new heaven and new earth. Better than the Garden of Eden. He promised it in His Story and God never breaks a promise.

There are five movements in The Story: the story of the garden, the story of Israel, the story of Jesus, the story of the Church, and the story of the new garden. We heard today an excerpt about the story of the garden. Join me again next week as we continue our journey through the five movements of the Bible, The Story, God’s plan to redeem us and have that intimate relationship He had with Adam and Eve walking through the Garden.

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 about The Story and our part in it. 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 24, 2017

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.

  1. Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
  2. As much as we might think we can, we cannot go wherever we want. Moses learned that a long time ago.
  3. Scripture
    1. Leviticus 16:2
    2. Go, talk to Aaron, and warn him that he cannot go whenever he wants...
  4. Devotional
    1. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m using another warfighter story today since I’m still deep into a training exercise for a medical command this week. I think it will illustrate my point pretty clearly, though.
    2. We have the units operating on a linear battlefield at the moment. When combat units fight side by side in that fashion, they have what are called lines of coordination that determine exactly where their left and right boundaries are so they reduce the risk of firing into friendly forces. That boundary is usually an easily recognizeable feature like a road or river or some other terrain feature that won’t change despite the intensity of the battle. And one of the units, not both, will own the feature, the road, river, or whatever it might be.
    3. So units don’t go into each others territory without prior coordination. One unit’s soldiers don’t cross the line without coordinating with their adjacent unit first. The reason is easily understood. If you cross the boundary without coordination, you might get shot by friendly force. Not a good thing for anyone. So units warn their soldiers where they cannot go. Don’t cross this road. Don’t cross this river. Don’t go over this hill. Stay out of the adjacent unit’s area. You can’t go wherever you want!
    4. It’s true in our everyday life. We find barriers on the road. One way signs, road blocks, locked doors. Physical barriers that keep us out of places that unless we have the proper authority, we cannot enter those places. I can pretty much guarantee that most if not everyone who hears this has never personally seen the gold in sitting in Fort Knox. We cannot go there. We cannot go wherever we want. If we tried, we would be turned away. If we tried by using force, we would be met with equal or greater force and be turned away. I can assure you that you cannot get to the gold in Fort Knox. It is protected from intrusion and theft and you cannot go there. You cannot see it. You cannot go wherever you want.
    5. There are some severe consequences for overstepping your bounds if you cross physical barriers that are there to restrict your movement. Another example are the barriers our law enforcement personnel put in place during flash floods. Some people are foolish enough to think the barriers don’t apply to them and find themselves caught in the torrent of water grasping on whatever they can when their car is washed off the road. The near death experience and $2500 fine helps remind them you cannot go wherever you want.
    6. All of these examples talk about physical space, but what about our behavior? What about our spiritual lives? What about pushing past the fence that God puts in place to keep us from suffering the consequences of sinful behavior. His laws keep us in line. His laws are much like telling our kids not to put their hand in the flame. Don’t go there, you’ll get burned.
    7. God tells us, don’t do these things. There are consequences you don’t want to pay if you cross these boundaries. You cannot go wherever you want.
    8. If we would just listen to Him. If we would just pay attention to the warning signs He puts in our path and then refuse to go around them, our journey of life would progress so much better. We would find ourselves with so much more joy and find our priorities ordered properly in the things we face every day.
    9. We understand in our daily lives we cannot go wherever we want. It’s important we apply that same understanding to our behavior and our spiritual lives. Otherwise there are consequences we do not want to pay.
  5. If you want to learn more about my church, you can find us at SAF.church. If you like the devotional, share it with someone. If you don't, tell me. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for "A Little Walk with God."
  6. Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com

 

Jul 17, 2017

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.

  1. Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
  2. How hard do you try when problems seem insurmountable? (Luke 19:1-5)
  3. Scripture
    1. Luke 19:1-5
    2. Jesus enters Jericho and seems only to be passing through. Living in Jericho is a man named Zaccheus. He’s the head tax collector and is very rich. He is also very short. He wants to see Jesus as He passes through the center of town, but he can’t get a glimpse because the crowd blocks his view. So he runs ahead of the crowd and climbs up into a sycamore tree so he can see Jesus when He passes beneath him.

Jesus comes along and looks up into the tree, and there He sees Zaccheus.

Jesus: Zaccheus, hurry down from that tree because I need to stay at your house tonight.

  1. Devotional
    1. For the last week, I’ve been assisting in the training of Army medical brigade headquarters. These units provide direction for the medical formations on the battlefield to provide treatment for the sick, injured, and wounded within the area the Army operates. They tell those medical units, like hospitals, evacuation units with helicopters and ambulances, dental units, behavioral health units, preventive medicine teams, and a host of other medical capability where and when to move within the battlespace to ensure our service men and women are afforded the best care possible in sometimes pretty horrible conditions.
    2. Armies move pretty quickly on the battlefield. Hospitals can’t move so fast. It takes lots of people and trucks to tear down, move, and set up one of those 250 bed hospitals on the battlefield and their may be two or three or five of those that must be within range of the front line of troops to ensure trauma care is available in a timely manner.
    3. I mention those simple parameters to address the problem these medical brigades must address in the training scenarios we give them. We ask them to support an army that will fight across six or seven hundred miles in two or three weeks. The helicopters can only fly 2 ½ hours, so that’s less than one hour each way to pick up and return casualties from the front. That’s about 100 miles. These commanders face what seems to be an insurmountable problem. How do you treat patients across a six hundred mile battlefield following a combat force when it takes days to move and set up a hospital?
    4. So now we turn to the story of Zaccheus. He faced what seemed to be an insurmountable problem. Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus. He had heard about this man from Nazareth who did no wrong. A man who challenged the authority of the temple leaders. A man who feared nothing and no one. A man who worked miracles. A man who was said to even control nature, calming storms with His words. Zaccheus wanted to see this man.
    5. But Zaccheus was short in stature. He couldn’t see above the crowd. It was like a ten year old standing behind adults trying to see the parade. He wanted to see what was happening, but the crowd was too thick. Hundreds of others also wanted to get a view of this miracle worker and Zaccheus found himself pushed aside by the crowd. He was a tax collector. No one cared about giving him room. Everyone hated him. He worked for the Romans. He deserved to stand in the back.
    6. But Zaccheus would not be stopped. He would not let the people’s dislike for him keep him from seeing Jesus. Zaccheus would not give up this opportunity to catch a glimpse of this man everyone was talking about. He would find a way to see the one who changed the life of everyone who met Him. Zaccheus would find a way.
    7. So he ran ahead, climbed a tree, and waited anxiously for the Master to walk by.
    8. Jesus did an amazing thing. He invited Himself to Zaccheus house for dinner. The onlookers were astounded. First, that Jesus was bold enough to break the rules of protocol and invite Himself for dinner. And second, and most egregious, He invited Himself to a tax collector’s house.
    9. Zaccheus was creative, persistent, and would not accept defeat in doing something important for a future that would help others. Remember after meeting Jesus he promised to restore anything he took wrongly fourfold and to give half his wealth to the poor.
    10. Back to my training sessions this week. The medical commands would find it easy to give up on this insurmountable problem. It’s hard to find solutions to this almost impossible scenario. But lives are at stake. They must find a solution or American soldiers will die because of their failure to find a solution.
    11. They will be creative. They will be persistent. They will not accept defeat in doing something so important to the future of others.
    12. How about you? What problem are you facing that seems insurmountable but makes a difference in the lives of those around you? What mountain looms before you that you need to climb, go around, tunnel through, or something to better the lives of someone? Zaccheus didn’t quit. These medical brigade will not quit. How about you? God can give you a creative mind to help you find solutions if you stick with it and keep at the task ensuring a better future for others.
  2. If you want to learn more about my church, you can find us at SAF.church. If you like the devotional, share it with someone. If you don't, tell me. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for "A Little Walk with God."
  3. Bible Reading Plan - http://www.Bible-Reading.com

 

Jul 10, 2017

A 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.

  1. Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
  2. It takes time and effort to perfect a skill. Should we expect anything different with our Christian walk? Then why do so many Christians think they can just get by with wearing His name?
  3. Scripture - Bible Reading Plan - http://www.Bible-Reading.com (week 28)
    1. Colossians 1:10; 22-23;2:6-8
    2. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You.
    3. ...but now He has reconciled you in His body—in His flesh through His death—so that He can present you to God holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection 23 as long as you stay planted in the faith. So don’t venture away from what you have heard and taken to heart: the living hope of the good news that has been announced to all creation under heaven and has captured me, Paul, as its servant.
    4. Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. 7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. 8 Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don’t let their talks capture you).
  4. Devotional
    1. When I was a kid, pre-teen, as a matter of fact, I took piano lessons. It was the thing to do for a lot of kids and it was a good way to learn music and, quite frankly, music teaches kids to strive toward perfection. You see, it’s pretty easy to know when you aren’t playing something correctly when you hit a wrong note. Our ears are tuned to hear things in certain harmonies and when notes are played out of harmony with everyone else, we know it. We hear those off color notes in a piece of music or a band or an orchestra and no one has to tell us.
    2. Well, I took lessons for two or three years and learned to play all those songs in those first half dozen or so beginner books, but that’s about as far as it goes. Needless to say, I didn’t learn to play well. I could read all the notes. I knew what all the marks on the score meant. I understood what the timing was supposed to be when played well, but my fingers never did what the composer intended when those black and white shapes were placed on those lines years earlier.
    3. On the other hand, I have a cousin who studied piano for many years and became a very accomplished pianist. He majored in keyboard in school and could play just about anything you put in front of him. He could play any type of music and accompany other musicians as they performed instrumentally or vocally. He was very good. But you know what? He started out the same way I did. Those first two or three years were brutal for his parents. Lots of practice with missed notes, obvious disharmony in the notes he played, mistakes galore. It’s the way things work.
    4. We cannot expect to be accomplished musicians without years of focused practice on the instrument we want to perfect. We cannot expect to just piddle around a few times with a piano or guitar or trumpet and expect to play like those we hear in some orchestra like the Philadelphia Harmonic Orchestra. No, we would be foolish to think we could do such a thing.
    5. I’m not a golfer, but I know from those who play the game, that the same is true of that sport or any other. Granted, some people are certainly more athletic than others. Some have an aptitude for certain sports and are fitted to such things much more so than others, but still they require practice. For instance, we would not expect a person four feet two inches tall to make it into the National Basketball League no matter how well he might shoot from the foul line. He just couldn’t compete against the seven footers on the court. But neither can all seven-footers play basketball. Frankly, most of the very tall people I know are a just a little uncoordinated because they’ve had to deal with their size in a world not made to fit them.
    6. So golf, baseball, basketball, pick a sport, pick a vocation, pick a hobby. To be good at it, takes time and effort and practice.
    7. I think the verses today tell us that about being followers of Christ. Listen to what Paul tells us in his letter to the church in Colossi:
      1. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You.
      2. ...but now He has reconciled you in His body—in His flesh through His death—so that He can present you to God holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection 23 as long as you stay planted in the faith. So don’t venture away from what you have heard and taken to heart: the living hope of the good news that has been announced to all creation under heaven and has captured me, Paul, as its servant.
      3. Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. 7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. 8 Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don’t let their talks capture you).
    8. Paul prays about doing every good work and growing in the knowledge that comes from being close to God. That takes time and effort and commitment. He says Jesus reconciled us to present us blameless … as long as we stay planted in the faith. In this present world with it pull on us every day toward the evil one, it means we need to stay in the fight, keep up our guard, draw closer to Him. Commit ourselves to Him continuously and consistently. We must work at growing in Him. Paul says in Chapter two, to Let our roots grow down deeply i Him and let Him build us up on a firm foundation. If you’ve ever tried growing something, you know it takes work to till the soil, the plants fertilized, watered and weeded, so that you get the harvest you expect. It takes work to make roots grow deeply.
    9. And what about making sure no predator makes you his prey? Have you ever watched a prey try to escape its predator? A rabbit fleeing a fox? Or a mouse trying to outrun a hawk? Talk about work! This thing about following Christ means we must work hard at the task. We can’t expect to ask Him to forgive us and then expect everything to be over. To follow Him means we must work at doing so. We must grow in Him and that means picking up a hoe or a pick and shovel and getting through the tough ground so the right seeds can be sown in our life and a harvest reaped in our own soul.
    10. So as a Christian, don’t listen to those who might tell you everything will be peaches and cream when you become a follower of Jesus. It won’t. Following Jesus means work. It means commitment. It means suffering with Him. It means taking up our cross. It means giving our all because He gave His all. But is it worth it? Just ask the many who have followed Him and you will discover the joy in their lives that can never be shaken because He lives within them. Don’t expect an easy life, but expect one filled with excitement, joy, and His presence.
  5. If you want to learn more about my church, you can find us at SAF.church. If you like the devotional, share it with someone. If you don't, tell me. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for "A Little Walk with God."

 

Jul 4, 2017

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.

  1. Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
  2. Today marks the end of my daily format. With retirement and some changes in life events and personal and family priorities, I will change to a weekly format beginning this month. You can expect “A Little Walk with God” to continue, but it will be released each week on Mondays instead of the daily format you have had in the past. Thanks for your continued support and if you like what you hear, share it with your friends and send me a post to let me know what you think about the new format.
  3. Scripture
    1. John 8:31-32
    2. Jesus (to the new Jewish believers): If you hear My voice and abide in My word, you are truly My disciples; you will know the truth, and that truth will give you freedom.
  4. Devotional
    1. Independence Day. The day a group of courageous men signed a document that started an experiment in democracy that has endured longer than anyone dreamed. 241 years ago, we declared our independence from the tyrannical rule of the king of England and formed the spark of democratic rule among the 13 colonies which would soon form the United States of America.
    2. Those early colonists wanted freedom from British rule. Freedom from laws and taxation and governance in which they had no say or influence. They wanted freedom to rule themselves and set their own direction for the formation of this new land in which they lived and died. They wanted freedom.
    3. Little did they know what would happen over the next centuries. Little did they understand that the United States would become the most powerful nation in the world both militarily and economically. Little did they understand the influence the constitution they drafted would impact the world of which they were only beginning to explore at the time. They sought freedom for themselves, their children and their children’s children.
    4. But what about today? What do we want? We hear a lot about people wanting freedom, but do we really understand what that means or what we really want?
    5. Freedom then and now does not mean the absence of authority or rule over us. Without rule and order and authority we would have utter chaos. Just look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the lack of rule and order in New Orleans. Without order and authority, freedom means people often fall into animalistic behavior. We are better than that.
    6. Freedom does not mean absence of authority and order. We need order and authority to maintain peace and safety in our communities. We need government to ensure those basic necessities of life are taken care of in an orderly fashion for the common good of all of us. We need authority in our lives. Freedom includes authority over us. Always.
    7. Jesus says following His teachings lets us know the truth and the truth sets us free. So what does that mean?
    8. First, we need to understand that following His teachings means being like Him, being a disciple. That’s what disciples were in His day. Students who set aside their past beliefs and understandings and learned from their teacher. They adopted the teachings of their mentor and became like him in every way. They ate and dressed like him. They began to mimic his language and his thought process. They developed his mannerisms and in as many ways as possible began to be their teacher. They grew up in the image of their teacher, indistinguishable from their master.
    9. So Jesus is telling those around Him, be His disciple. Be like Him. Do what He does. Learn His teachings. Follow in His footsteps. When you do these things, you will know the truth.
    10. When you know the truth, you will be free. What will you be free from? Questions, the unknown, guilt, the burden of sin, fear, lack of purpose. You see, when you know the truth, suddenly you see the world the way Jesus sees it. You understand the reason we are put here on this earth. You know the peace that comes from knowing God’s forgiveness of your sins and the release of the guilt that plagues us because of our disobedience. You fear God as in recognizing the awesomeness of His mighty power, but you no longer fear God as in being troubled about His wrath for your past. You find freedom, real freedom.
    11. But with that freedom, you know who you serve. You are clearly and forever under His authority. You know you must and will follow His teachings. He is your Ruler, your King, your Director, your Guide, your Authority in all things. Yet you are truly free. Why? Because when you follow Him, you know the truth. You know Him and He is truth and you are free in Him.
  5. If you want to learn more about my church, you can find us at SAF.church. If you like the devotional, share it with someone. If you don't, tell me. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for "A Little Walk with God."
  6. Bible Reading Plan - 2 Kings 1-5

 

Jul 3, 2017

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.

  1. Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
  2. Topic Introduction with headline.
  3. Scripture
    1. Leviticus 10:1-2
    2. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, took censers and filled them with embers; then they put incense on top of the fire and presented it to the Eternal One. This was a strange and unauthorized fire that the Eternal did not command them. Flames erupted from before the Eternal and burned up Nadab and Abihu. They both died in the presence of the Eternal One.
  4. Devotional
    1. Many churches frown on drinking alcohol. Most think getting drunk is not a good thing to do. Where does it stem from? Scripture.
    2. Stories like this one let us know why it pays to stay sober.
      1. Noah was drunk and caused Ham to see Him naked. It let to Ham and the Canaanites being cursed.
      2. Judah sleeping with his daughter in law.
      3. Samson losing his strength
      4. Aaron’s sons losing their lives
      5. And on and on, story after story of people losing their inhibitions and common sense under the influence of alcohol and getting themselves in serious trouble
    3. God made a profound example of these two priests, Nadab and Abihu
      1. New nation
      2. New laws
      3. Monotheism in a pagan, polytheistic world
      4. They had apparently been drinking when they attempted to put incense on the alter. God did not approve of their behavior.
      5. His fire killed them instantly.
    4. God doesn’t punish immediately too often today
      1. Still the same eternally
      2. Delays His punishment as a demonstration of His grace and mercy
      3. Gives us an opportunity to repent
      4. Gives us an opportunity to come to Him for forgiveness and atonement
    5. Wrath will come at the time of His choosing
      1. His is the same yesterday, today, and forever
      2. The punishment we saw with Nadab and Abihu is the kind of punishment any of us could expect for violating God’s laws
      3. He is a holy God and doesn’t allow sin in His presence
      4. Only through the blood shed by His own son can we find forgiveness for our sins and come into His presence
    6. It pays to listen to what God has to say, don’t you think?
  5. If you want to learn more about my church, you can find us at SAF.church. If you like the devotional, share it with someone. If you don't, tell me. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for "A Little Walk with God."
  6. Bible Reading Plan - Leviticus 10-12

 

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