Aug 24, 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.
The lectionary this week included these verses from Paul's letter to the church in Rome.
So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Worship like this brings your mind into line with God's. 2 What's more, don't let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God's will is, what is good, acceptable and complete. (Romans 12:1-2 NTE)
Paul has painstakingly taken his readers through arguments explaining the fallacy of the leaning on the law and how it can never help us find right standing with God. It can only point out our flaws. It shows us our wrongs; worse than that, it leads us into temptation by enticing us into doing things we would not have known before.
Paul takes us through a series of steps to find that place of peace, salvation, redemption from the creator. Often called the Roman Road, it begins with acknowledging our sins, confessing them, and realizing we cannot absolve them ourselves. Then asking forgiveness from God, the one who can make us whole, and acknowledging him alone as God and Lord of our life.
When we confess him as Lord, that means he rules our life. He is in charge. We don't use those terms much in our day and age because it brings back memories of the slave trades, masters, and slaves – dark days we want to forget in our history. But the relationship Paul talks about between mere mortals, us, and God fits. He is God; we are not. He deserves and demands our undivided devotion and attention.
We miss that point in trying to cover up the relationship, particularly with the current crises in our land today. With the turmoil broiling across the country, assuming all whites are guilty of racism and all blacks are protesters and rioters, we refuse to talk about slavery in spiritual terms. We've let the world hijack so many words we seldom know what generations talk about anymore. Here are just a few GenZers have taken over - extra, snatched, wig, bet, fire, cap, shade, salty, slay, shook, tea. I'll let you figure out the new meaning, or just ask your teenager.
What happens, though, is we talk around each other instead of talking to each other. We fail to understand what each side means when we hear words spoken because what we hear is not what is said by the other person. No communication happens because we speak different languages even though the words sound like English. That's part of our problem with generational gaps. We try to talk to each other but don't hear each other's side.
How do we get back to some common ground, so we fix the divide tearing us apart?
First, go back to Romans 12. Stop letting the world determine how you live your life and how you think. The media too often shapes what we believe, and various outlets are blatantly biased. And we tend to choose our favored side instead of listening to all the facts and deciding for ourselves. We instead let someone else think for us and blindly follow the rhetoric fed to us rather than spend time researching facts.
So, don't be shaped by the world, but let God's spirit in you transform your mind. Allow him to change you. How do you do that? Spend time in His word. Don't pick favorite verses or the out of context verses each side uses to prove a point but absorb large sections of God's word each day to understand what he wants to get across to you. Did you know that just spending fifteen minutes a day reading the Bible, you would read it through in a year?
That's about the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, so during that next coffee break, open God's word, and just start reading. Ask him to help you learn from it and how he wants you to apply it to your life today. You will be amazed at what he brings to mind as you go about your day if you really mean those words. You will begin to realize the transformation in your thinking and understand what Paul talks about in knowing God's will. You'll see evidence of the change in your life as you see others in a different light. You'll see with eyes of compassion; you'll desire others know the truth of God's word the way you begin to discover it from your time with him. You'll long to know more of him each day.
Next, make it a point to listen to those around you. But really listen. Don't just hear words spoken, because we know words have taken on new meanings over time. We can hear words and not know the intended meaning of the speaker because of the changes. Take time to listen and ask questions to make sure you understand.
I've used this illustration before that I shared with officers when they joined my units in the Army. What does it mean to 'secure the building?' It depends on your Service. In the Marines, it means storm the building until nothing is left standing. In the Army, it means to surround it with concertina wire, guard posts, and soldiers, so nothing comes near it. In the Navy, it means to find the owner and purchase it. In the Air Force, it means to turn out the lights and lock the doors.
It's a humorous illustration, but it points to the fact that misunderstanding a single word in communication between two people can have disastrous results. If, as an Army officer, I gave that command to a Marine without further explanation, I could suddenly find a pile of rubble instead of a heavily guarded building for a headquarters. The same words, but a significant difference in the outcome.
The same happens in our communications today when we fail to stop and listen, ask questions when there might be some confusion in our understanding. Ask the question, what do I have to believe about that person to think he or she would say or do what I think they said or did?
Stop and think about that just for a minute, we hear the leftist decry Presidents Trump and Bush constantly. We also hear the right blast Presidents Obama and Clinton the same way. But why would anyone want to become president other than to help the country? Since President Regan, every president always wears a bulletproof vest outside the White House. Secret Service surrounds them constantly, so they have no privacy – ever. The press hounds them as much or more than any Hollywood celebrity. Their opponents take apart every speech and look for any slight to use against them. Worse, statements are edited and twisted to make even the point opponents would agree on turn against them.
They give up lucrative positions to become prisoners to impossible schedules. Yes, we see them on vacations and golf courses, but what we don't hear during those "vacations" is the rest of their calendar. The round of golf is sandwiched between hours of briefings, meetings with governors, senators, and other leaders in the area, mounds of paperwork that came with them. We never hear about the fourteen- and sixteen-hour routine they face every day.
Who would want to be president? There are reasons why after eight years in office, a past president looks twenty years older than when they took the oath. The stress and pace of leading the nation take a toll only someone dedicated to making the country better would want. Each party looks at different ways to do that, but the man in the office has the same ideal, make America a better place for the next generation. So, before blasting the person, stop and think. What do I have to believe about him to think he would say or do what is reported. You'll probably figure out reports are half-truths at best, and if you read transcripts or full reports instead of the snippets from any mainline media, fake news might be a pretty good description of what happens today on both sides.
The Democratic National Convention just ended. Political campaigns for the November elections will start in full force now. I suggest whenever a campaign ad comes on, you mute your radio or television or whatever you might be listening to at the time. Whenever the news talks about something political, I recommend you mute whatever you're hearing. Whenever someone on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter start a political rant, don't read it, just skip it or block it.
"… don't let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age."
Instead, do some homework. I know, it sounds like school. But that's okay. Our country's future is at stake. When you hear about a speech, find the whole speech, and read it, don't listen to someone's abstract. When you hear about legislation, go find out what it says and how your candidate thought about it. If they are in office, why they voted the way they did. Did they vote no because of amendments tacked on to the original bill? We often don't hear about that, but often, those amendments cause the problems in whether bills pass or not.
Find out what candidates believe, find out what they say they will do, not what they think about their opponent. Then think hard about whether what they say they will do is realistic. A candidate can promise a lot, but everything costs money, and who pays for it? When they say a corporation will, that sounds good, but corporations aren't people, they are businesses that make money by selling things to us. We pay their taxes by purchasing their goods. When their taxes go up, their prices go up. We pay their taxes. Free health care sounds good, but someone pays for it? Who? How will promises be kept? Find out about the fine print as you think about the candidates you choose.
You have time to consider. Do your research. Don't be stuffed in a box. Don't just follow the crowd. Don't pull a party lever. Know the reasons you choose the person and the character behind the person. Mostly, spend time with God every day. Let him help you discern your walk in every part of life, even as a good citizen.
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 NTE are taken from the NEW TESTAMENT FOR EVERYONE: Scripture are taken from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.