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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

Jan 22, 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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 18; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 120 through 126

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are not exactly household names. Maybe Daniel, but certainly not the other three. Of course, if you’ve been around the church for a while, you might have heard the stories of these three young men and their exploits with a furnace. You might remember their refusal to bow and the king’s fury that put them into a furnace so hot that it killed the guards as they approached it. You might remember the fourth figured that appeared in the fire that resumed them from the flames so that they didn’t even smell like smoke.

But I don’t want to talk about Daniel and his escape from the lions’ den today or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their escape from the furnace. I want us to recall today that these three young men were exiles in Babylonia. I want us to remember how they got there in the first place. Then I want us to see what God’s upper story then and now tells us.

You’ll recall that the Israelites had every chance to return to God. He sent prophets and priests to try His best to get them to return to Him and follow His teachings, but they refused. They wanted to be like all the other nations around them and so they abandoned God and sought after the gods of the nations around them. Finally God withdrew His protection from the nation He built and they fell first to the Assyrians and then to the Babylonians.

These two ancient civilizations were pretty smart in their capture of their enemies, though. They dispatched their captives to several other nations and instead of putting them in prisons, put them to work. They became farmers and masons and musicians and in the case of the best and brightest, Nebuchadnezzar even brought them into the palace to teach them about the country and its government to make them officials in their new adopted land.

Many don’t realize that the same thing happened to thousands of those imprisoned in World War I and II. They weren’t just kept in prisons, but many were “loaned” to cities and farmers and industries as workers. Many were even paid and became close friends with their “employers”. The goal of the king was to assimilate the young into his kingdom to reduce any resistance. Rather than spark rebellions from poor prison conditions, he gave them meaningful work and good living conditions and showed them a better way to live than they had seen in their homelands under siege.

But one thing these a group of these Israelites failed to do was change their ways with respect to their God. You see, to be totally immersed in the new country meant believing the way the adopted culture believed. It meant adopting their gods as well. Start thinking like the local populace. But some of these Jewish captives, notably people like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to change their religious habits. They refused to let their faith in their Creator diminish.

Our culture bombards us with information every day trying to get us to ignore our God. The off color jokes at the water cooler, do I participate or stand up for God’s standards of morality and equality among all people? The sexual innuendos toward the waitress by my table mates, do I let it slide or remind them that sex is God’s gift for married couples to enjoy intimacy in their relationships and not to be exploited otherwise? Do I fudge my travel expenses just because everyone else does, or do I provide honest and accurate accounting because God expects it of me?

You see, it doesn’t matter what the culture we live in might think or do because we live here as exiles. We are not of this place. Even though I was born and raised in the United States, my citizenship changed when I accepted Christ as my Lord. I entered a new kingdom and gave sovereignty and allegiance of my life to Jesus. So this place is no longer my home.

Peter tells us we are foreigners and exiles, just passing through this place. If we remember that and don’t get caught up in the culture of this place but remain true to the culture of our Father and His Son, we never need to worry. He will take care of us.

Does that mean we’ll never have trouble? No, by no means. Just look at these three young men. They were probably teenagers when their first test came. Daniel said, “I won’t defile myself by eating the king’s food. Just give us vegetables and water.” Then I love what his three companions told the king when they refused to bow to the golden statue made in his likeness.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, you Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

That is faith. That is the testimony of so many thousands of martyrs who have given their lives for Christ through the centuries. It tells of the faith of so many today who are refusing to renounce their faith in Him even though they face the executioner’s blade or bullets. I would like to think my faith is strong enough to refuse to recant if faced with that situation. I’m afraid too many in our culture would not, just as was true in Daniel’s day.

Knowing I don’t belong here helps my faith. Knowing this place is just a temporary stopping point in my journey the garden God is preparing for us helps my faith. Knowing others have gone before me and have had the courage to stand before the crowd and kept their faith when others failed helps me to keep my faith. Knowing that if I can stand firm in the face of adversity that my testimony might help someone else stay strong as well helps me to keep my faith. Knowing God never fails and even though I can’t see how His upper story plays out in my lower story, I have the assurance that if I love Him and obey Him, all things work together for my good and His glory, I can keep my faith no matter what might happen around me.

We can go back to one of those very early lessons we had. Job never knew why he faced the adversities he faced. God never revealed to him the questions Satan raised or the contest God allowed behind the backdrop of heaven. God’s upper story encourages us because we know God will never allow us to face more than we can handle. God’s upper story encourages us because we know in the end we are rewarded for our faithfulness. But like Job, we often cannot see around the bend in the road and may never understand why we face the difficulties in life that come our way. But with God on our side, we can know that a better day is coming. We are only exiles in this world and one day He will come to take us back home to the place He has been preparing for us for an eternity. Take courage as an exile, a foreigner, a child of the King of kings. He will never let you down.

Jan 15, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 17; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 113 through 119

In a news report by Jacqui Goddard in Miami from 2011, we read: It was described by President Franklin D.Roosevelt as "a date that will live in infamy", a day on which the slaughter of 2,400 US troops drew America into Second World War and changed the course of history.

Now, on the 70th anniversary of Japan's devastating bombardment of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, evidence has emerged showing that President Franklin D.Roosevelt was warned three days before the attack that the Japanese empire was eyeing up Hawaii with a view to "open conflict."

The information, contained in a declassified memorandum from the Office of Naval Intelligence, adds to proof that Washington dismissed red flags signalling that mass bloodshed was looming and war was imminent.

"In anticipation of possible open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii," stated the 26-page memo.

Dated December 4, 1941, marked as confidential, and entitled "Japanese intelligence and propaganda in the United States," it flagged up Japan's surveillance of Hawaii under a section headlined "Methods of Operation and Points of Attack."

If only…

What a different world we might be living in if President Roosevelt and the War Department had paid attention to the intelligence they received about the pending attack. But they couldn’t believe Japan could reach across the Pacific to attack the island paradise where America had its naval base. Their imagination didn’t stretch to the point of Japan’s planes fueling for a one-way flight and all their pilots willing to sacrifice themselves to attack Hawaii knowing there would be no return trip.

What a different world we might be living in if President Bush and the Department of Defense had paid attention to the intelligence they received about the pending attack. But they couldn’t believe Osama bin Laden could destroy national landmarks like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Their imagination didn’t stretch to the point of hijacking passenger jets and using them as missiles to carry out their terrorist activities.

In our culture we have a hard time understanding the mindset of suicide bombers, kamikaze pilots, terrorist willing to sacrifice their lives for their cause. To us, life is too precious to sacrifice it what we see as such wasteful purposes. So in our innocence or ignorance, we miss some of the signs that might come to us because we cannot imagine the horrific acts men can commit against other men. I think that is probably a good thing in a nation that honors God.

Unfortunately, we are becoming more like those nations around us and we can begin to stretch our imaginations to understand how our vulnerabilities to these acts today. Is it because we have experienced them? Partly. But it’s partly because we are following the pattern we see Jeremiah lamenting as he stood by the roadside and wept as his countrymen were carried away in chains.

You see, Israel had become like the nations around them. Thirty-four of their thirty-nine kings did not follow God’s teachings. Thirty-four of Israel’s thirty-nine kings did evil in God’s sight and led their people to do the same. Thirty-four of Israel’s thirty-nine kings failed to listen to the prophets God sent to turn the nation around and gave them opportunities to make things right with God.

For decades we were known throughout the world as a Christian nation. Founded by our forefathers on Christian principles. In fact, when George Washington was offered a crown, he refused it and an early motto in the country was “no king but King Jesus.” We were a Christian nation. But no more. As you look at the latest census questions, fewer than 50% of our nation claim any religious affiliation at all. Listen to that figure again. Less than 50% claim any religious affiliation. Not Christian, not Muslim, not Hindu, not Buddhist, nothing. 50% of our citizens believe they are their own god. They set their own moral standards and fear no higher power.

Of that 50% that claim some religious affiliation, less than a third attend to their faith on a regular basis, referring to reading, prayer, attendance at their church, temple, or synagogue. That means only 15% of our citizens are actively engaged with a god of any sort, real or false. Is there any wonder why our nation is in the shape it is in? Do we need to question why there is violence in our schools or workplace? Do we need to ask why we have mass killings in our country? It’s not the guns or the explosives or the knives or the weapons of any ilk that cause the problem. Our problem is the hearts of the people who live here.

Jeremiah stood by the road and lamented the tragedy that was happening to Jerusalem as the Babylon continued to exile its citizens. Do we have any Jeremiah’s left who can see what is happening to our nation and will spend time on their knees praying to the God of heaven and earth seeking His guidance for this place? Do we have any Jeremiah’s left who weep over the sins of the people? Do we have any Jeremiah’s left who declare God’s word faithfully even knowing no one will listen?

We need some Jeremiah’s today more than ever. We are in dire need of Christians who weep for our nation as we enter this new year. We need prayer warriors who will lift our leaders and men and women who will speak out for Christ even when they think no one will listen.

As we continue in The Story, I see so many parallels between Israel’s sins, their downfall, and ours as a nation and as individuals, I can’t help but think our future may look a lot like their history if we don’t change our ways. But we can change. We each have choices to make, but we have free will and can make those choices. The question is will we choose life or death? Will we choose the world or God? Will we choose obedience or damnation?

The choice is always ours to make. Make the right ones this year.

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.

 

Jan 8, 2018

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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 16; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 106 through 112

We are back to the study of The Story, God’s plan to restore us to a face-to-face relationship with Him as He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He wants desperately to have that kind of intimate relationship with each of us. And He would and did die that He might have it. But relationships are always a two way street. God wants it, but we must want it too. We have a choice and The Story, His word, the Bible shows us His plan to guide us back to Him if we choose to do so.

This week’s readings tell us the story of Hezekiah and the Assyrian army’s plan to conquer Judah. The taunts of Sennacherib's field commander remind me of just how devious Satan can be with us. Remember some of the words he used?

“The gods of the nations we conquered didn’t save them, why do you think your God will save you?”

“Hezekiah tore down all the altars to your god and is making you worship him only in Jerusalem’s temple. Won’t your god be angry with Hezekiah for destroying his places of worship?”

“Surrender and live, we will give you homes, places to work, your sons and daughters can marry and have children in the new land we will take you to. Or you can stay here and starve to death.”

Hezekiah’s subjects heard all those words from the walls as they stood inside Jerusalem and the Assyrian army stood just outside the gates. I expect many of them more than toyed with the idea of passing the guards on the gates and doing exactly what the field commander asked. I expect many of their growling bellies made them long for those gardens promised by their enemy.

Satan works much the same way with us as Sennacherib did in his taunting of those hidden behind the walls of Jerusalem. He tells us half truths and twists the circumstances to make us think he has power to make things happen. He twists phrases to make his lies sound like truth but when you really examine his words, they are empty promises that don’t hold up to reality.

For instance, Satan told Adam and Eve they wouldn’t die if they ate the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. Partly tree, but only a half truth. They didn’t die physically right away, but we don’t know if they were eternal when created. We know they lived almost a thousand years before they died and death was one of the curses placed on them. We also know they died spiritually immediately. They lost their spiritual innocence as soon as they ate of the forbidden fruit as they disobeyed God’s command.

We hear half truths all the time and Satan tries his best to lure us into the way the world thinks and acts and tells us it’s okey. He wants us to absorb the world’s philosophy. He wants us to accept his moral values. He wants us to think God’s ways are too restrictive and arcane. He wants us, like those behind Jerusalem’s walls to long for the promises he makes to us instead of what God has to offer.

But Hezekiah, his prophets and priests, and the strength of his guard force kept the people loyal to him and to God. They stayed in the city and prayed to the God of the universe. The only one at this point who could possibly do anything about the tragedy that was about to befall them. They had no hope except in God. Surrender to this army really wasn’t an option anymore.

Sure they heard the rhetoric, but they also knew the stories about the brutality of this army and these were the last holdouts that kept these warriors from returning home to their wives and children. These were the last of the rebellious nations that caused them to risk their lives and suffer the harsh environment of a soldier’s life. These people would receive no mercy whether defeated or if they surrendered. The rest of the world would understand the power of Assyria and the consequences of rebellion against her. Yes, only God could save Jerusalem.

The people prayed. God listened. A miracle happened. 185,000 Assyrian soldiers didn’t wake up one morning. We don’t know how they died. We don’t know if God sent some viral disease or something poisoned their food or God sent an angel to kill them. The Bible doesn’t tell us how God performed this miraculous act. We only know that Sennacherib's invincible army was decimated in a single night without a single arrow fired from the walls of Jerusalem or a single sword swung by a Judean soldier. 185,000 Assyrian soldiers just died. The rest slithered home...as fast as they could go.

Then God executed the rest of His plan against Sennacherib and his two sons assassinated him. Assyria soon feel to Babylonia and became a vassal nation to Assyria just as all the other nations of the world had been to her. Sin has its consequences. They will come back to bite you and there is not much you can do about reaping the harvest you sow.

Hezekiah is one of five kings of the thirty-nine who ruled Israel noted as being a good king. All the rest are described as in God’s word. I don’t think any of our presidents have been described as evil in our press, but God tell us 34 of His chosen people’s kings were evil. What an indictment against those who were supposed to be showing us how to have an intimate relationship with God.

But don’t point fingers too fast. The Israelites are still God’s chosen people. It is still the nation He will bless and use to point us to Him and sue to bring us back into a face-to-face relationship with Him. So says His Story, His plan to redeem us from our sins. We’re getting close to those events in His word. The ones that will change the course of history and give each of us the opportunity to live with Him forever.

For now, be careful who you listen to and how you react to those half truths the world yells out to you over the wall. Satan wants desperately to have you open the gates of your heart and mind to him. He wants desperately for you to let him in and let him take charge of your life. You have a choice as to how sits on the throne of your life. It will either be God or Satan. Jesus told us you cannot serve two masters. You must choose one or the other.

Who will it be? God or Satan? It really is your choice. Make sure it’s the right one. 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 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.

 

Jan 1, 2018

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 15; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 99 through 105

Welcome back to our study of The Story, God’s plan to restore us to a face-to-face relationship with Him. If you’ll remember, we have been walking through His word looking at the four movements that permeate the Bible. His word opens with His face-to-face relationship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as He walked with them in the cool of the day. They gave up the right to see Him face-to-face when they disobeyed His command to avoid eating from the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

From that day forward, God has put in place a plan to bring us back into fellowship with Him. He built a special nation, Israel, to point us to Him and show us how to live in community together and with Him. This is the second movement in God’s story. The nation failed to live up to their side of the covenant God made with them, though, and went into exile in 598 BC and became a vassal of Babylonia. It didn’t become a self-governing nation again until 1948 when Israel’s borders were recognized after World War II. During the intervening 2500 years it fell under the auspices of some other nation’s rule.

The third movement comes in the form of a baby born to a teenage girl in a little village called Bethlehem. He would be called the King of kings and Lord of lords because He is God incarnate. The very Son of God foretold by the prophets centuries earlier. He was part of the Father’s plan to bring us back into that face-to-face relationship God desperately desires to restore with us.

The fourth movement in the story heralds the beginning of the church, the instrument that continues to share the message that God so loved the world that anyone who believes in Jesus as the Son of God would be saved and have everlasting life with Him in His perfect garden. We are part of that fourth movement and have the responsibility of sharing that message. The kingdom has come and we are to share the message with those around us.

The final movement of God’s story tells us of a restored relationship. A new heaven and new earth. A place where the redeemed will live in harmony with God and with each other because there will be no death, no pain, no sickness, no sin, no evil. It will be a perfect place. The place Jesus talks about as the place He is preparing for us to take all those who believe in Him when He returns to take us to be with Him.

So that is the story and today we look at Chapter 15 and what a strange story this is if seen only from our lower story point of view. The book of Hosea would make a terrible B-rated movie. The prophet hears a voice tell him to go marry a prostitute named Gomer.

Well, the first thing I think of when I hear the name, I think of Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith show. A little dumber than dirt and always in trouble. Probably not far from the truth in this marriage making idea that comes to Hosea, you might be thinking. But Gomer is a girl, a prostitute. But Hosea hears the voice and heads to the local corner where the call girls hang out. He waits for Gomer to walk by and flutter her eyelids at him, but instead of asking how much, He asks her to marry him. Now that’s a proposition she probably hasn’t heard before. Surprisingly, Gomer marries the prophet.

Things don’t change for Gomer, though. Prophets don’t make much money and she missed the baubles and trinkets her clients gave her. So it isn’t long before she looks up her pimp and goes back to work.

A few months or a few years go by and God tells Hosea to go get Gomer back. Here is that upper story at work again that we just don’t understand. From the lower story, it just doesn’t make sense. We would tell Hosea to cut his losses and run as fast and far away from this prostitute as he can and find a sweet girl with a few morals if he wants to keep his reputation as a holy prophet intact. But God tells Hosea to go back to the red light district and get Gomer back.

Can you imagine the look on her face when she hears the knock on her door expecting another of her clients, opens the door, and sees Hosea on his knees begging her to come back home? She goes reluctantly but still plays the harlot even when she goes back home. Hosea pleads with her more to give up her life of prostitution.

The lower story seems crazy to us. We see a prophet ruining his life chasing after this promiscuous woman. He has two children with her and even their names teach us what a terrible tragedies their marriage held. Their names meant God-scattered and unpitied, Jezreel and Lo-Ruhamah. Kids often live up to their names. How would you like to be Hosea’s kids growing up in their suburb of Jerusalem?

We don’t know the final outcome of Hosea’s marriage. We don’t know if Gomer ever straightened her life out or not. From the tone of the story and the message Hosea gives Israel, it doesn’t sound like it. You see, God used this unlikely lower story to share His upper story with His chosen people and all the nations who would hear about Hosea from that day on. He used Hosea’s life as an example of His indescribable love for us. A love that wants to rescue us from the deepest darkest sins and bring us back into His loving arms. A love that even when we run away from Him, He works diligently to bring us back and restore our relationship with Him.

Too often, like Gomer, we turn our eyes back to the old life and run away from God. We just won’t let Him care for us and provide for us the way He desires. Instead we turn to the pimp of the world thinking that life that leads to our ultimate destruction is more attractive. But like Gomer’s life, filled with temporary glitter and one night stands, it only leads to heartache and death.

We see again in these unlikely characters a lower story that seems to lead to No-wheres-ville. How could God ever use this mess in His march to bring us back to Him. But then in His upper story, we see His plan of redemption unfolding as He seeks the restoration of Israel through the demonstration of this prophet’s unusual life story. God wants us back. God chases us to redeem us. But we still have the final choice to make.

Did Gomer stay with Hosea and live happily ever after? We are not told. I’d like to think so, but we don’t know for sure. She may have wandered back to her life of prostitution. Or she may have straightened out her life and been faithful to Hosea the rest of their lives together. I doubt if it was a happily ever after in either case. The consequences of Gomer’s lifestyle would have continued to follow her through her married life with the snide remarks, the whispered gossip, the sly glances. Life for them as a couple would never be normal.

But God can do something so much better for us. Like Gomer, we may still suffer some of the consequences of the sins we commit before we decide to follow God, but He promises us everlasting life in His perfect garden when we follow Him. He tells us as His followers we will one day live walk with again face-to-face. What a great time that will 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.

 

Dec 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 - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a>

We are taking a short break from The Story for Advent and Christmas season. We’ll be back into The Story next week. We’re taking this one more week from the consecutive schedule so that our readings at Easter coincide with the events as recorded in The Story. This is our third and last week away from that study, but rest assured we will go back to it next week and then finish our journey exploring God’s plan to bring us back into a face to face relationship with Him.

You may or may not be listening to this podcast as it is being released, but it was released at 5:00 am Christmas morning. Growing up, that was the about as late as my mom could stand it. She would wake all of us up (if we weren’t already awake). We’d rush down the hall to the living room and get stopped in the hallway until dad could set up the camera. Then we would rush into the living room to see what Santa left under the tree. The next ten or thirty minutes were spent oohing and aahing over that magical thing that appeared under the tree from the night before.

Next, we would open all the other presents under the tree that belonged to our family. As the family grew, with five kids, it took a little while for all of them to get opened, chaos to subside and all the wrappings to be gathered and trashed. Once the unwrapping was done we got to pick one thing to take with us to granny’s house where all who could came for breakfast. Granny’s husband died when my father was only five and remained a widow the rest of her life, so most of her kids came home every Christmas to join her for breakfast. Many of the grandkids also stopped by, so it wasn’t unusual to have forty or fifty people trying to run shifts at the table or sofa or just find some standing room in her tiny two bedroom house.

But one thing that always happened at Granny’s house was that someone read the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 after breakfast. Then we would shower her with gifts. She never wanted anything and after she moved into an assisted living facility, they found many of those gifts unused in closets, under beds, stuffed away wherever she could find a spot because she just didn’t know how to receive gifts very well and didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by taking anything back or regifting as is common today.

Granny made sure everyone knew what Christmas was about. It wasn’t about presents and decorations and shopping and the hustle and bustle we seem to make it so many times today. Granny made sure we knew it was about Jesus’ birth. She even made Him a birthday cake that all us grandkids enjoyed every year on Christmas day for lunch. She always made Him the center of everything that day and made it clear to the family we were celebrating His coming.

Granny would tell me when I was growing up that her call in life was to raise a Christian family. Of the 96 family members at her funeral when she died, a fourth were in full-time Christian ministry. Many served as Sunday School teachers, sang in choirs, served on church boards and committees, and gave their time and energy in myriad ways to their local church. You could count on one hand the number that weren’t in church regularly. And by regularly, I mean every service. Then it meant Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Granny raised a family committed to Christ.

We live in a highly mobile society and kids and grandkids no longer live close enough to do what Granny’s family did every Christmas. We were only an hour or so away the whole time I was growing up. When Carole and I had kids, we were half a world away from their grandparents. Unfortunately, that’s the way with a huge portion of the population now. We can’t spend time with family like we did in days gone by.

But we can still remember Jesus on Christmas. We can still embrace the importance of community and reach out to those around us. To build a family of friends, not to replace our flesh and blood kin, but to share the love of Christ and the importance of this special day. Does that mean we have to prepare big meals with ham and turkey and lots of side dishes and desserts and spend half the day in the kitchen for a 20 minute meal? No.

At Granny’s we had biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, and that’s about it. All of us pitched in to help cook so the meal was pretty simple, quick and easy and it wasn’t the food we went for anyway. We went for the fellowship. It can be the same with any gathering. We don’t need to impress anyone with preparations to enjoy their company. If you have to do that, then those are the wrong people to invite. Invite the ones that don’t care if pillows are out of place or dishes don’t match. The ones that will get their own beverages after you show them where they are the first time.

Spend Christmas in community with people you love. Just sharing Jesus’ love with those around you will make a big difference in your life and theirs. Remember those two commands Jesus gave us that wraps all the others together? Love God and love people. When we do that, something incredible happens. We share the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others in the same way God has give His grace and mercy to us. We learn to give cheerfully from a heart full of love. Those around us see Jesus in our actions when we truly love with His love.

I don’t know what kind of traditions you have in your family. Ours have changed through the years because of experiences we had through our military travels that took us far from family and even sometimes separated us. We made accommodations to what use to be long held traditions because of things that change around us with health and age and place and time. But through it all, there is still one constant.

Jesus is the center of our celebration. We recognize there would be no Christmas without Christ. He is the reason we have the holiday. He is the reason we gather together. He is why we laugh and cry and live and breathe. Jesus is why.

If we lose the real reason for Christmas we lose it all. Whatever you do this day or this season, don’t forget why we celebrate in the first place. Don’t lose the centerpiece of all that happens in this season named for the one to whom it truly belongs. Keep Christ, not just at Christmas, but all year long.

Next week we will return to our study of The Story, God’s plan to restore a face to face relationship with us. We finished chapter 14 before our short break. Next week we will begin reading chapter 15.

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.

Dec 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

We are in a short respite from our study of The Story. We will pick up our readings from that study again after Christmas. But until then, we will enjoy the Advent season and focus on the first coming of Jesus and His expected return. Incidentally, our three week pause will put our Easter readings in line with the Easter season as we march through God’s story, His plan to bring us back into an intimate, face to face relationship with Him.

We all like presents, I think. Some of us like giving presents as much or more than getting them. I’ll admit, when I was young, I liked the getting part a lot better, but as I’ve matured, I really do like the giving a lot more than the getting. I think there is something that changes in us as we go through a few seasons of life. Let’s view a few of those and how they might impact your attitude toward giving this year.

As a child, I thought like a child. Children are selfish. We’re born that way. Just take a look at any infant and you’ll see it’s true. When they don’t get what they want they cry. Feed me. Change me. Hold me. Leave me alone. Let me go to bed. Get me out of bed. Mom’s figure out how to interpret cries pretty well, but babies tell you pretty quickly what they want and they don’t stop telling you until their selfish desires are satisfied. They really could care less about the rest of the world or even the rest of the family. They only care about themselves and their wants.

I became a teenager and learned to give out of luv. That attraction we get when we think we might be compatible to someone. I enjoyed giving something to that special girl I thought I’d be with forever, or at least until next week. You probably remember those teenage crushes and the selfishness that went along with those presents to win the hearts of those to whom they were presented.

Then I matured a little and fell into a state of real love with the lady I’ve been married to for forty-one years. The presents I gave her weren’t meant to get something in return or to win her love, but something to express how I felt expecting nothing in return but hoping she felt as deeply about me as I did about her. Still, I have to say I really enjoyed receiving those presents from her that showed she cared about me, too.

When kids came along, receiving stuff didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to see the joy in their eyes when they received something they wanted, something they liked that they didn’t expect. My giving became so much more important than getting. Grandkids make giving even more fun in the family. Watching my kids’ eyes light up when their kids’ eyes light up is something to behold. Those of you who are grandparents know what I mean.

But this thing about giving being more important and more satisfying than getting started coming about for reasons other than aging and maturing. It is more than just having a wife and kids and grandkids. This thing about enjoying watching the joy in others and watching the glow in other’s faces when they receive something unexpected or something they want or need comes from something deep inside that grows every day as I grow closer to Jesus.

When we pattern our life after His, we learn to enjoy giving. He was the ultimate giver, after all. He gave up heaven to come to earth and walk around this tiny little dirty planet to be with us. He gave up His family to walk the dusty roads of Israel to share the message that God had something better for them. He gave up His life on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and yours. Jesus gave up everything so that we could have it all. We have eternal life because He gave His on the cross.

When we become like Him, we learn that giving brings joy. We learn that giving from the heart is better than giving from the pocket book. It means that giving time is often much better than giving money. It means that giving of yourself is the ultimate goal of every follower of Jesus. Servanthood, giving and giving and giving for the joy of giving is the life Jesus taught His disciples and the life we find when we let His lead us.

To the world it makes little sense. You can still find lots of adults that have the attitude that the one with the most toys at the end wins. You can find those who believe money and accumulation and getting everything they can get is what it’s all about. You can find those who buy into the world’s lie that material things are the most important things and they go after them with gusto.

To the world, servanthood means weakness. To Jesus it means obedience to His will and incredible strength because it’s His strength, not ours. To the world servanthood means poverty. To Jesus it means indescribable wealth and riches because He created, controls, and rules the universe. To the world servanthood means subordination. To Jesus it means living the way we were created to live in harmony and community.

We see lots of presents under our tree at Christmas time. When the kids and grandkids come to the house we have a great time watching the paper fly and the listening to the squeals of joy and the laughter and excitement that comes from the mouths of those little ones. They grow up too fast and soon the sparkle that comes from getting all those presents will subside. I hope, like their grandparents and their parents, they learn to enjoy giving more than getting and serving more than being served as they mature physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This is a good time to take inventory of your own attitude toward presents. Which do you like best and why? Getting or giving? Take some time and really think about it. I’d like to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share. Remember Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:7: You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give becaused you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

It’s not just money God cares about, but time, talent, you. God loves a cheerful giver of themself.

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.

 

Dec 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

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com

We have been following “The Story” for the last 14 weeks, but for the next three, we will take a short recess and enjoy Advent, remembering Jesus’ first coming into the world in the flesh and also looking forward to His return one day soon. This three week break also puts our reading in the story such that our reading in The Story will coincide with the events of Easter as those dates roll around. So I hope you enjoy this short interlude as we enjoy the Christmas season together.

The term advent came into being in the 12th century. This Middle English word means the arrival or coming of something. The church soon adopted it as the description of the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, this year from December 3rd through December 24th. We use those four weeks to celebrate not just His coming, but to anticipate His return. That’s what Advent is all about. Something that arrives or comes.

As I prepare this podcast, I just celebrated my 41st anniversary. We spent the night as a “stay-cation” on the Riverwalk here in San Antonio. We enjoyed the lights, watched the people, ate great food, and reminisced about the last 41 years together. The time helped us remember our times together on other anniversaries. Gatlinburg, where we spent our honeymoon and several anniversaries, Germany, New York, and a host of other places. It made me remember a lot of anniversaries we spent apart because of deployments, field training, and travel at the Army’s demand.

We also thought about the future, though. The past helps lets us enjoy those fun times we’ve had together. We can live those good times over and over in our minds. But living in the past doesn’t help us much except to translate failures into lessons so that we don’t repeat mistakes and turn those lessons into more than knowledge. We can turn experience into wisdom as we mature and make the future better for ourselves and others as we share wisdom. So we talked about the future.

The younger crowd probably thinks in different ways about the future than those of us who are retiring and we who are retiring probably think differently than those who have been retired for awhile. Now Carole and I think about how we can live close to all of the grandkids. Of course, that would mean convincing our kids to live closer to each other in a mobile society. We think about health and downsizing and how much activity we can really do in a day before we launch out on one of those high adventure vacations. We talk about budgets and what will happen to pensions and Social Security and health insurance in the future now that we dip into it so much more than we did in the past.

But something we talk about so much more than we did a few years ago is just how close Jesus’ return feels to us. Earthquakes in Delaware? When did that become commonplace? Record numbers of hurricanes? Uncontrolled wildfires and flooding all around the world? You can blame it on global warming if you like, but you can also read about these things in Matthew 25 as Jesus warns of the catastrophic natural events that will occur before His return.

So as we read the papers and listen to the news and reporters seem so bumfuzzled about why things seem so crazy around the world, we just wonder how soon Jesus will return. We read the prophets and see the visions they saw happening all around us. I know, others have said the same thing for centuries, but as I read God’s word and recognize the earth is going through something like birth pangs to usher in a new heaven and new earth, It seems to me the labor pains are getting pretty intense. I’m not sure the labor can get much more intense before this new heaven and new earth come into existence.

So this Advent season we look at the future and recognize the earthquakes won’t diminish but will increase in the coming months or years. The floods will not stop, but rather the hurricanes will become more violent and more people along the coastal plains, major rivers, and 100, 500, and 1000 year flood plains will be at risk. Wildfires will continue to ravage areas plagued with continued drought. Violence from terrorism, racism, political divides, will only increase.

All of that sounds pretty bleak as we peek into the future and ask what it will be like. But it also means Jesus is coming soon. It means the end is near and we will join our Savior. We will be with Him forever when He comes to take His bride home. His desire has always been to live face to face with us in a personal, intimate relationship. The Story, His word, bares that out. As we look to the past and see His actions, His mercy and grace toward us, we recognize the love He has toward us and catch a glimpse of the plan He has for us in the future.

However, we must choose to get on the path to which He directs us. We cannot expect to live with Him eternally by choosing our own way, our own path. We must follow Him to His garden of Eden. We must follow His precepts and principles. We must obey. What are His commands? They are easy to remember, love God and love people. That’s it. Do those two things and all the others fall into place.

Here we are. The second week of Advent. Looking back and celebrating the arrival of Jesus, the One who changed everything. In fact, He changed the world so much that almost every nation recognizes Christmas as a special day of celebration, whether or not they are a Christian nation. It is an international, global holiday. The calendar turned because of His birth. He was and is the God/Man who came to save us.

Advent is also a time to look forward to His arrival. He said He would come again. All the signs are coming together to indicate He might come pretty soon. All you need do is read the paper and listen to the news, compare it to what He said would happen just before He comes and you’ll see the time is right for His return. This Advent season, take time to celebrate. Remember Jesus came to bring life and light to a dead and dark world. He did that in a spectacular way. But we can also remember He will come again to finish the work He said He would do. He will come again to take us to the place He is preparing for us. A place where we can be with Him face to face forever.

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.

Dec 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.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 14; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 92 through 98

This week we read the story of Rehoboam. When we think about this young king, we think about what a tragic story and how God must have messed this one up. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, took the throne after his father. Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s advisors and military leaders came to the new king and recommended the heavy tax burden and labor force Solomon had levied on the kingdom be lightened. The people were about to revolt because of all Solomon had demanded of them during his reign.

You see, Solomon lost sight of what he had promised God. Instead of God being the most important thing in Solomon’s life and service to his kingdom being his most important task, Solomon decided the kingdom belonged to him and was from his pleasure. He needed a lot of stuff to support those 1,000 wives and all those guests that kept coming to visit. Take a look at the list of what it took just to feed that crowd every day and you’ll begin to understand just why Jeroboam asked the new king to ease up.

Well, Rehoboam does a smart thing as a new king. He goes to his father’s council and asks their opinion of Jeroboam’s plan. The council agrees. They tell Rehoboam if he will do as Jeroboam asks, the people will honor him and follow him as king. The twelve tribes will remain loyal without question. But Rehoboam decides he will ask his friends that grew up with him in the palace. Remember those 1,000 wives? They had a lot of children. I can imagine Rehoboam and all his palace friends had just about anything they wanted with a father who knew no limits to his wealth. Solomon had anything he wanted. Silver was like stones on the ground it was so common in Jerusalem. Solomon owned tons of gold. Rehoboam was the spoiled king’s son and all his friends didn’t want that free ride to end.

Their advice...tell everyone if they thought his father was harsh and had heavy taxes, just wait until you see what he has in store for them. Rehoboam liked the rich kid syndrome and took the young friends’ advice. Jeroboam took his followers and revolted. Ten tribes left the kingdom. Only Judah and Benjamin remained under the reign of Solomon’s son. Rehoboam was partly paying for Solomon’s failures. Remember he failed to follow God’s laws by marrying all those foreign wives and allowing idol worship into the kingdom. He took his eyes off of what was important and began thinking riches were more important than God. So God took most of the kingdom away from Solomon’s son. Consequences of our sins never affect just us.

But just when you think God’s upper story has crashed, take a look again. Rehoboam gets the smallest portion of the kingdom because of Solomon’s failure. Rehoboam sees the rebellion and civil war rip apart a great nation because he took the wrong advice. Israel is divided. How can God’s upper story possibly survive such disastrous character flaws like we see in Solomon and Rehoboam? Well, we can only see the immediate. We can’t see around the bend. We’re limited in our view of reality because we aren’t God and don’t understand His view from His upper story.

But Rehoboam is one of those unlikely characters through whom God acts. The nation is split, but Judah stays loyal to the Rehoboam, a descendant of David. And guess who come from the line of David. Jesus. Judah’s tribe. Rehoboam’s bloodline. This rebellious young king who wouldn’t take good advice is one of those in the line of Mary and Joseph. Unlikely characters become part of God’s great plan.

So what does that tell you and me? First, it tells me we can’t stop God’s plan. He will make His ultimate will happen no matter what we might try to do to stop it. Second, we can choose to follow Him or not, but there are consequences that come with our choice. When we follow Him, we avoid the natural consequences that follow evil behavior. The law that we reap what we sow happens. Third, the consequences of our choices are not limited to just us. What I do affects my family and all those whose lives I touch. And again, I can’t influence the consequence, only the choices that I make. The consequences are natural results of the choices.

We will all make some choice we would like to redo. We have all probably take advice from someone that wasn’t as wise as we thought they were. We have probably all listened to the wrong group of friends at one time or another and now live with some of those consequences we wish we could redo.

God knows all about those. But He also made a way to forgive us and help us be a part of His plan. He made a way for we imperfect, mistake ridden, broken people to participate in His upper story so that we can join Him in His perfect garden one day. He wants us to have that face-to-face relationship we once enjoyed with Him in the Garden of Eden. He has put a plan in place to do that. It’s His upper story and in His time and in His way, He will bring all who follow Him together again into His paradise.

So here we are. We have choices to make every day and we often need to get advice from those around us. Can I suggest we look for the wise among us to find the best advice, not necessarily the popular or the smart or those filled with what the world thinks is knowledge. Rehoboam paid a high price for taking foolish advice that benefitted him instead of the kingdom. Take a hard look at the advice you get and who benefits from the advice you get. Remember we are to be servants not the served. That’s what Jesus taught us by example. Living with His philosophy of life makes those choices a lot less difficult to discern. Give it a try.

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.

 

Nov 27, 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 13; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 85 through 91

Some of you might be old enough to remember getting the Sears and Roebuck catalog about this time of year growing up. We would eagerly await its arrival and mom and dad would try to point us to the clothing sections to get us to point out what we wanted for Christmas, our fingers would always turn to those dozens of pages in the back with all the toys. Board games, cowboy outfits and toy guns, bicycles and skateboards (the simple ones with metal roller skate wheels on the bottom of a flat board, back then. Pogo sticks. Basketballs and footballs. Or maybe it was the dolls and dollhouses, baby carriages and things the girls like to browse through. I’m not sure what those pages held because I always skipped over them to get to the adventure stuff.

We would circle what we wanted and earmark the pages hoping someone would get the hint of what we really wanted. Most of the time, it wasn’t practical and was too expensive, but it was fun to dream. We would spend hours looking through those catalogs every year. Kids today miss out a lot by not having catalogs. Yeah, they can find anything they want on the Internet, but it’s just not the same. You lose that tactile experience of flipping through the pages, circling that long awaited treasure, and leaving the breadcrumb trail for mom and dad to discover your deepest desire in the pages of the giant Sears book.

David’s son, Solomon didn’t have a Sears and Roebuck catalog, but not long after his coronation, God came to him in a dream and asked him what he wanted most of all. Just name it and it’s yours. If you were a young man in the prime of life and just given the keys to the kingdom, literally, what would you ask for? I bet most of us would at least ask for the bills to be paid off. Maybe a new car or a better job. Money would top most people’s most wanted list.

But Solomon didn’t ask for a big house or more friends or a better job or a lot of money. He didn’t ask for the things most of us would ask for if given a blank check to have anything we wanted. Solomon said these words: “Lord my God, you have now made me king. You have put me in the place of my father David. But I’m only a little child. I don’t know how to carry out my duties. I’m here among the people you have chosen. They are a great nation. They are more than anyone can count. So give me a heart that understands. Then I can rule over your people. I can tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Who can possibly rule over this great nation of yours?”

The Bible says, “God was pleased that Solomon had asked for that. So God said to him, ‘You have not asked to live for a long time. You have not asked to be wealthy. You have not even asked to have your enemies killed. Instead, you have asked for understanding. You want to do what is right and fair when you judge people. Because that is what you have asked for, I will give it to you. I will give you a wise and understanding heart. So here is what will be true of you. There has never been anyone like you. And there never will be.

“And that is not all. I will give you what you have not asked for. I will give you riches and honor. As long as you live, no other king will be as great as you are. Live the way I want you to. Obey my laws and commands, just as your father David did. Then I will let you live for a long time.”

Did God grant Solomon’s request? You bet. We have a sampling of his one line tools for successful living in the proverbs attributed to him. If we would live by those one-liners he gave us, we wouldn’t have near the trouble we cause ourselves in life. Our problem is we just don’t pay attention to all those good rules Solomon gives us. Simple things like: “Riches that are gained by sinning aren’t worth anything. But doing what is right saves you from death.” or “Hands that don’t want to work make you poor. But hands that work hard bring wealth to you.” or “A wise heart accepts commands. But foolish cattering destroys you.” Or one we really need to hear today, “Hate stirs up fights. But love erases all sins by forgiving them.”

No one was wiser than Solomon. Kings, queens, and leaders from all over the world came to sit at his feet and listen to him and were astounded by his wisdom. They showered him with tremendous gifts from their kingdoms to honor him and the wisdom he shared with them as they came to visit. Solomon became renowned throughout history for his understanding and the magnificence of his kingdom. Why did he receive all of this? Because he humbly asked for something greater than himself. He genuinely pleaded for a gift that would benefit others more than it would him. He asked for the wisdom to rule. As one of David’s youngest sons in a family filled with jealousy, turmoil, and internal rebellion to determine who would sit on the throne, Solomon would need all the wisdom he could get to keep the kingdom intact.

Solomon knew what was important. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep the commandments as he promised he would. He soon started marrying the daughters of some of those visiting kings to form treaties with neighboring kingdoms. God’s laws said don’t marry outsiders so they wouldn’t tempt the Israelites to worship their foreign gods. Solomon didn’t pay attention and it wasn’t long before those 1,000 wives brought their idols into the palace and the kingdom started following their example. If only…

Like many of those unlikely characters in the Bible, God still used Solomon. He also teaches us a thing or two by letting us see the good, the bad, and the ugly based on the decisions we make. Solomon didn’t live by his own proverbs later in life and watched his kingdom begin to crumble from the inside because the people in the kingdom failed to follow God the same way he failed to follow God. He let power and fame and riches and wealth become more important to him than living by the precepts his father David taught him.

Jesus reminds us of some of those same philosophies 1000 years later when he told those around him on the hillside during the Sermon on the Mount. “Put away riches for yourself in heaven. There, moths and rust do not destroy them. There, thieves do not break in a d steal them. Your heart will be where your riches are.” If we could grab hold of what Solomon and Jesus told us, really believe it, and live it from day to day, we would not buy into the lies the world tells us and live so much better off than we do in trying to grab that golden ring the world says we need.

Solomon was really smart man. Jesus was smarter. We can trust the pearls of wisdom they left behind for us. Just believe them and live them and you’ll be amazed at how much better you days go. You’ll be shocked at how the stress falls away and days seem to be filled with more joy and happiness. You see it’s not things that bring happiness. It’s the relationship with God and with people that make the difference in whether life is enjoyable or not. Give the ancient king’s words of wisdom a try. You’ll like them.

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.

Nov 20, 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 12; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 78 through 84

What one night would you like to erase from your memory forever? What one event would you like to just take away from your past because of the consequences that have come from that one indiscretion? You know what it is. It probably doesn’t take you a lot of time to think back through your history. You probably don’t have to thumb through pages and pages of journals to think of the event you’d like to relive and do things differently.

King David had one of those days. His army went to war in the spring of the year, but he didn’t go with them. One night he went out on his roof and glanced over his city and there on another rooftop he saw Bathsheba bathing. If David had just walked back inside and gone about his business we probably wouldn’t hear about the demise of the twelve tribes or the terrible things that happened within his own family. But he didn’t.

David sent a servant to bring Bathsheba to his palace and he slept with her while her husband, Uriah, one of David’s mighty men, a brave and loyal soldier in his army, performed his duties on the field of battle. David sent her home. Soon she sent word to David that she was pregnant and the king tries to cover up his wrongs.

First, he brings Uriah home to blame the pregnancy on Uriah, but he doesn’t go home. Refusing to enjoy the comforts of home while his men are suffering the discomforts of the battlefield. Next, David tries to get Uriah drunk to then let his baser desires take hold and get him to sleep with his wife. But that doesn’t work either. Uriah is just too loyal to his men and the king’s army. Finally, for all intents and purposes, David murders Uriah by sending a secret message to his commander instructing him to place Uriah at the front where the fighting was the fiercest and then withdraw leaving Uriah to die. David even sent them message by Uriah to seal his own fate.

David thought he covered his tracks. To the army and the kingdom, it looked like he did a noble thing and took in his warrior’s widow into his palace to marry her and take care of her after Uriah’s untimely death. He thought his sin was hidden from all but he and Bathsheba. But God knew and God let Nathan, His prophet know. The prophet came to David and uncovered the sin. He pronounced the punishment that God decided. Bathsheba’s child would die.

David prayed, he pleaded, he begged. The consequences of his sin began. David repented, but Bathsheba’s child still died. His son raped his daughter. Another son rebelled against him and tried to take his kingdom from him. David watched his family fall apart as a consequence of the sin that started because he didn’t walk away that spring night in Jerusalem.

God forgave David and called him a man after His heart. Why? Because David did repent and tried to live according to the laws God laid out for His people. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. But God still named David a man after His heart and all the kings of Israel were compared to David, the nation’s best king. David made mistakes. God forgave him. But David still suffered consequences as a result of his sin.

David didn’t blame God for his suffering, though. He understood justice and knew the things he suffered were a result of his actions, not God’s. The family problems he faced were because his children behaved as he had behaved with Bathsheba and Uriah, so how he could expect other results. David knew something we forget too often. The message that we reap what we sow doesn’t matter if God has forgiven us or not. We may still reap the harvest of the actions we have taken. Like David, we may be forgiven, but it doesn’t mean we won’t suffer the consequences of those actions in this life.

What does it all mean for us as we look at those characters like David? God isn’t looking for perfect people. He knows none of us are perfect. He made us. He knows us. He knows your faults and failures better than you do. What He’s looking for are men and women who, like David, will listen when confronted with their sin. He’s looking for men and women who, when confronted with their sin will repent instead of blaming someone else. He’s looking for men and women who, like David, will meditate on His word, do their best everyday to abide by His law, and listen to His voice.

He tells us He really only has two rules for us to keep. Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love other people like we love ourself. If we will just do those two things we will stay out of trouble and will keep all His other commands. If David had kept those two rules that night in Jerusalem when he was out on his roof, he would have walked back inside when he noticed Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. You see, he would not have wanted to sin against God or against Bathsheba or her husband Uriah. He would have wanted to maintain their reputations and his own.

David had that bad night and God forgave him. You’ve probably had a bad night or two yourself. I doubt if your bad night was any worse than what David did, though. He drug his whole family and nation through the mud resulting in rape, murder, incest, a divided kingdom, defeat by their enemies, finally the whole nation falling into exile. God forgave him, but the consequences unfolded before him.

Don’t let that happen to you. Obey God. Recognize He has your best in mind. He doesn’t want you to suffer the results of the harvest of sinful ways. Reap a harvest of good deeds and righteous living. It’s not impossible. In fact, God will help you along the way. Just put your trust in Him, listen to His voice, and obey when you hear Him call.

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