Oct 12, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
From the Philippians' lectionary readings yesterday, three things jumped out at me that I wanted to share with you today. First, let me read the passage from Paul's letter, then we will discuss each of them in reverse in the message and why I think we must address them as individuals and as the church, the body of Christ, today.
4 Always be glad for what the Lord has done, I will say it again, be glad.
5 Let everyone know that you think kindly of others before yourselves. The Lord is near.
6 Do not worry about anything. Talk to God about everything. Thank him for what you have. Ask him for what you need.
7 Then God will give you peace, a peace which is too wonderful to understand. That peace will keep your hearts and minds safe as you trust in Christ Jesus.
8 Here, my brothers, are some things I want you to think about. Think about things that are true, honest, right, clean and pure, things that are lovely, and things that are good to talk about. If they are good, and if they bring praise to God, think about these things.
9 I taught you, and you learned things from me. You heard the things I said, and you saw the things I did. Do these same things yourselves. Then God who gives peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 WE)
The topic that I'll mention first comes from Paul's last bold statement. Pattern your life after mine, and God will give you the peace he gives me. How many of us tell those coming behind us those words today? Too often, what we hear is my private life is private. Don't peek into the closet; it's none of your business what I do behind closed doors. You only need to know what I do in my business, my public life, that's why you pay me.
Not Paul. He says, follow me around, watch me every moment of every day and do what I do. Use me as an example of holy living. Let me show you what it means to follow Jesus and his teachings. If you do the things I do, you will be okay when you stand before Him at the judgment.
We might call that overconfident. We might call Paul conceited. We might think him arrogant. Paul lived none of those characteristics. He just knew that if he followed Christ in all his practices, public and private, others could follow him and find their way to Jesus the same way he did. And when Paul discovered him, Jesus turned his world upside down, or should I say, he finally turned Paul's world right-side up. That's what Jesus came to do, after all, to make all things right again.
So, the first point in Paul's words yesterday, can I say like Paul, follow in my footsteps, and you will be following Jesus? Am I walking so much in the light of God's word and by the guidance of his spirit, that I can honestly make that statement to others? If not, why not, and what am I going to do about it?
Second is Paul's admonition to watch with what we fill our cranial space. God created magnificent computer storage spaces when he created our brains. They operate in ways science and medicine still haven't figured out. Somehow, memories get stored in the electrical impulses that happened between the cells in our brain, but how and what mechanism recall the right bit of those chemical and electrical impulses to bring back those memories decades later? We still have no clue.
What we have learned, though, is that everything that goes into the brain is there. Unless some injury or illness destroys some part of the brain, memories find their way in and remain. I might not be able to call them up at a moments' notice, but they reside somewhere in that mass of tissue, and the right stimulus can bring them to the surface. So Paul says, if that's true, just like a compute, our brains work on the principle of garbage in, garbage out. If you fill your mind with smut, violence, evil, things contradictory to God's goodness, that's what spills out. When you fill your mind with good things, that's what comes out.
What does that mean for us practically? The older I get, the more I understand Paul's words. Think about things that are true, honest, right, clean and pure, things that are lovely, and things that are good to talk about. If they are good, and if they bring praise to God, think about these things. I must admit, I've quit watching the news almost entirely. When is the last time you heard any news outlet talk about anything with these qualities? It's been a long time. Bad news sells. In our broken state, we want to hear the dirt, the lies, the filth, the ugly. We want to know the worst of society to feel just a little better about ourselves in our minds.
Filling our mind with the worst of society doesn't let God shine his light on the things in us he wants to change, though. Thinking on the goodness of creation, the goodness of humanity made in God's image, the goodness of God's love and mercy, the beauty of the things around us, pulls us out of the world and, for those moments, lets us get just a little closer to the joining of heaven and earth - God walking in the garden with us.
Yesterday's scripture reminds us to keep our minds on things that focus on the best of this world. Paul tells us:
Think about things that are true, honest, right, clean and pure, things that are lovely, and things that are good to talk about. If they are good, and if they bring praise to God, think about these things.
Finally, the last thing I wanted to share with you from yesterday's reading is just a four-word sentence from verse 5. "The Lord is near." What makes that so important, and why did I want to share it with you today.
Allowing me to read more resulted in a pandemic's positive effect as it seems the second wave begins to hit many areas of the world. As I've read much larger chunks of the Old and New Testaments at one sitting, often several books at a time, I've begun to notice things I never saw before.
I knew Jesus is the Messiah prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Still, I never saw how Jesus became the embodiment of the Israelites exile once again so he could go through it and overcome it. Abraham was exiled in a sense from Ur but failed to bless the nations. God rescued the fledgling tribe through Joseph, but they failed to show God to the Egyptians how they saw Yahweh as the only God of the heavens. God rescued the Israelites through Moses, but they turned back to their idolatry in the land he gave them. Now, after returning from Babylon, still scattered around the world, the Temple rebuilt, Jesus comes to rescue the Israelites and show them what God wants of his chosen people as lights of the world to bring the nations to him. The Pharisees and Sadducees work together to plot to kill him. Use trumped-up charges, break their laws to entice Pilate to execute Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath, and rid Jerusalem of another revolutionary leader – they thought.
Jesus' resurrection brought heaven and earth together. Throughout his ministry, his message was clear. Repent, heaven is near. Some will think me crazy, I'm sure. Some will not want to hear the Lord is near. But as we discover the probability of multiple dimensions, I believe that's where heaven might be. I think heaven is here, just out of sight. Jesus' resurrected body could pass from one side to the other. Perhaps he could multiply the bread and fish by reaching from one side to the other. Maybe angels can do God's bidding by passing from one side to the other.
We don't understand what physical properties other dimensions might hold because we've never seen them or been there. Scientists only assume their probability through mathematical formulas. But suppose it is true and the Lord is just beside you and in this other dimension can be just beside any of us in the blink of an eye where time and space don't operate the way it does in our dimension. What if Jesus, the son of God, who conquered death and showed his disciples his new resurrected body that comes and goes behind locked doors is right here, now, just waiting for God to say, "Open the curtain."
It means in the blink of an eye; all could change. The new heaven and new earth could appear without notice, and suddenly we would be face to face with our Lord as a new dimension, a new earth, a new heaven, a new creation unfolds around us. "Heaven is near," Jesus said. "The kingdom is at hand," he proclaimed. Paul tells us, "The Lord is near." Perhaps he's even here. How does that change what you do and how you act today.
There they are: The Lord is near. Think about good things. Follow in my footsteps to follow in his. Three messages that will shake us and awaken us as we contemplate the days in which we live.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked WE are taken from THE JESUS BOOK - The Bible in Worldwide English (WE). Scriptures are taken from THE JESUS BOOK - The Bible in Worldwide English, Copyright © 1969, 1971, 1996, 1998 by SOON Educational Publications, Derby, DE65 6BN, UK. Used by permission.