Faithfulness

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To be “faithful unto death,” just be faithful today.

The best thing that we could possibly ask of the Lord for ourselves is that we will be faithful. “Be faithful unto death,” He says, “and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 KJV).

When you think about trying to be faithful for the rest of your life, that seems impossible. That’s just too big; you’ll never make it. But what about today? You may have had your trials and tests, you may have gotten discouraged, you may have made mistakes, but have you still got your faith today?—Then you’re full of faith. You’ve been faithful today.

You can only live one day at a time, so you can only be faithful one day at a time. Don’t worry about when you weren’t faithful yesterday or whether you’re going to be faithful tomorrow, but do your best to be faithful today. Just be faithful one day at a time. You don’t even have to have faith for a whole day. The only faith you need is what you’ve got right now. Just have faith for this moment, right now, one moment at a time. Just be faithful for one moment, one hour, one day at a time, and you will inherit an eternal crown of life.

 
Only the Lord can keep you faithful.

Too many people think about faithfulness as being something that they must work up. But faithfulness is a result of faith, and faith is a gift of God. You just have to depend on the Lord to keep you faithful.

If you feel you don’t have enough faith, read the Word; that’s the source of faith. You have to give Him a little cooperation, you have to listen, you have to read, you have to obey, but that’s the easy part. It’s His job to keep you faithful, full of faith, which comes from Him!

So quit trying so hard! Quit worrying about it! Quit trying to work it up or even pray it down! Trust the Lord and don’t worry. He’ll give you all the faith you need!

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior” (Jude 24-25), commit your way, your life, your mind, your thoughts, your time! “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him” (2 Timothy 1:12). Praise the Lord! Only He can do it!

 
Faithfulness in little things is a great thing.

Never belittle any task that the Lord has given you, because even things that may seem little are important to Him. You may think that what you’re doing now isn’t very important, but you just might be in school for something that’s more important than you realize. The Lord tests you first with little things, and the more He finds He can trust you with, the more He gives you. He knows that if you’ll do little things diligently, faithfully, and well, then He can trust you with big things. Jesus said, “He that is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Little things are big in God’s eyes. God runs the whole world on small things, and He judges us by small things. The world and the entire universe and God’s kingdom are made up of small things. Without the small things, none of the big things would be here.

(Prayer:) Help us, Lord, to learn how important the little things are, and help us not to fail in even the least of them. Your Word says, “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2)—full of faith and faithful at their tasks. Help us to be faithful in all things, small and great.

* * *

Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
–Revelation 2:10b

Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
–Matthew 25:23

Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
–Revelation 3:11b

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
–Luke 16:10

It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
–1 Corinthians 4:2

Not slothful in business; [but] fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.
–Romans 12:11

Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
–Galatians 6:9

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
–Ephesians 5:16

A faithful man shall abound with blessings.
–Proverbs 28:20a

 
 

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Anchor

Never Give Up

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSuppose Columbus had not sailed. Suppose Anne Sullivan had gotten discouraged and lost hope for Helen Keller. Suppose Louis Pasteur, searching for a cure for rabies, had not said to his weary helpers: “Keep on! The important thing is not to leave the subject!”

Many a race is lost at the last lap. Many a ship is washed up on the reefs outside the final port. Many a battle is lost on the last charge.

What hope have we of completing the course on which we have embarked? God is our hope. He will enable us to follow the course He has set us on. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. (Hebrews 7:25)

But He cannot help us if we are running away. We must be willing to stand somewhere and trust Him. He has reinforcements to send, but there must be somebody there to meet them when they come.

—Adapted from Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman

 
How bad do you want it?

Quitting is one of the easiest things in the world to do. I should know. I was a master of it. If universities gave degrees in quitting, I could have graduated summa cum laude. The problem is, I quit school.

School wasn’t the only thing that I quit. I left my first wife after one year of marriage. I quit preaching three years after being ordained. I was kicked out of the marines before my tour of duty was completed. During the first fifty years of my life, the only thing that I ever completed was a prison sentence. I would have quit that too if I could have.

There is a poem that my father always quoted when he saw I wasn’t doing my best. It was his philosophy of life. It says:

If a task is once begun,
Never leave it till it’s done.
Be the labor, great or small,
Do it well or not at all.

The reason that so many of us do not succeed is because we don’t want it bad enough. We don’t want that degree bad enough to put in the work that it takes to graduate. We don’t want to make the sports team bad enough to practice day in and day out. We don’t want to excel at our jobs bad enough to learn everything that we can about our chosen profession.

Unfortunately, mediocrity is not only thriving in the secular world. It is prevalent in many of our churches as well. Some of us are not interested in being the best Christians we can be. … We don’t read our Bibles or pray.

When I was hooked on drugs, I was the best junkie that I could be. Nothing could keep me from getting the drugs that I craved. My drugs meant more to me than my family, my friends, or my freedom. There was a snowstorm in Chicago one winter that was so bad that cars or buses could not move. So I walked three miles through almost two feet of snow to the dope house and then three miles back. That’s how bad I wanted to get high.

If I was that committed to something that was killing me, shouldn’t I be even more committed to the One who gave me life?

Do you want to be the best Christian that you can possibly be? If so, how bad do you want it?

—Burton Barr Jr.

*

Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English grammar and composition. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises. He arrived with his usual props—a cigar, a cane, and a top hat.

As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd arose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confidently before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!” Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears.

There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane, and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.

—The Speaker’s Sourcebook II

 
Whatever you do, don’t quit

I’ve felt like quitting lots of times because I make so many blunders, but I refuse to quit because I believe God. Therefore I know I have to obey Him, and I don’t dare quit!

What if God quit every time the body of believers gave him a lot of trouble? Then we’d all be in a mess! What if God quit every time you, His face, broke out in a bunch of ugly spots and pimples and boils and acne and whatnot? You’re the only face He’s got! What if He quit just because you’re ugly sometimes?

He’s got to keep on going even if you get yourself all tangled up and in a mess! He’s got to keep on teaching every part of His body coordination and how to function properly and operate smoothly and gracefully instead of all jerky and twisted. He’s got to keep going no matter how badly His body behaves sometimes, in spite of what His head tells it to do. He’s got to keep on teaching you how to walk even if you seem like a hopeless cripple—you, His body.

He’s got to try to make all the organs function properly even when you abuse them with the wrong food and contaminants—that’s the kind of body God has to put up with! Only the love, grace, and mercy of God can ever pull us through by faith and obedience to His Word, or we’d never make it.

“But if not,” we still have to keep going and believing and obeying. Like the three children of God who went into the fiery furnace in Daniel 3: They said, “Our God is able to deliver us, but if He doesn’t, we’re still not going to bow down to your System idol!” And it looked like the end, because into the furnace they went, and it even killed their executioners. But because of their faith and obedience, God was with them there, too, and they came out without even the smell of smoke on them.

Consider Job, whom the Lord let the Devil nearly destroy by killing his family and his finances, and almost even killing him. But Job still didn’t say “Uncle” to the Devil, or even to his wife, who told him to curse God and die! (Job 2:8–10) He just kept on believing God and obeying, with boils from head to toe, sitting on a heap of ashes and wearily scraping away the pus and the scabs and the sores with a broken piece of pottery, saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15) Can you do the same?

I hope you don’t have to get in such a mess as Job did. But if you do, don’t quit! Whatever you do, don’t quit! Keep going for God. Keep believing and obeying, no matter what happens! Maybe you’ll come out without even the smell of smoke on you, and be healthier and happier and wiser than ever before, like Job—if you will just hang on a little longer like he did and not give up.

Like the famous Captain John Paul Jones, wounded, half of his men dead or dying, and his ship sinking and on fire, when asked by the enemy if he was ready to surrender he screamed, “Hell, no! We haven’t even begun to fight yet!” And he won—in the long run.

Maybe you haven’t resisted unto blood like Jesus did, even unto the death of the cross! (Hebrews 12:3–4; Philippians 2:8) But even though it killed Him, only three days later He rose in triumph from the tomb. Death itself couldn’t hold Him down!

—David Brandt Berg

 
 

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Anchor

The Discipleship Journey

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorHow you love God and how you live your faith are personal matters. Your relationship with God is yours. If you know the principles laid out in the words of Jesus and throughout the Bible, and you apply those principles—you live them—then you will build a living personal relationship with God. It will be your personal relationship with Him based on applying His words, the principles He put forth for those who choose to follow Him. If you follow the principles He put forth through His teaching and His personal example, then He will show you how to apply those principles in the situations you come across in your life. The key is that you love Him and that you live your faith in the way He shows you to, based on the principles He has given in His Word.

The same holds true for preaching the gospel. There’s not only one manner in which to witness to others. God’s call is to preach the gospel, to share His love and life with others, and that’s part of being a disciple; but where and how and to whom you preach the gospel depends on where God has you, the life He’s called you to lead, and the people He’s placed in your path.

When Jesus calls, He says, “Follow Me.” He leads some to minister to the multitudes, others to their circle of friends and acquaintances. Some He leads to a foreign land, others to their neighborhood, others to their own children. His call is to preach the gospel in the realm He has called you to. Obedience to that call means reaching those He brings across your path.

A person’s spiritual life is like a journey. The place each person is coming from will be different. The pace at which they travel will be different. The Lord might call you to walk alongside someone for a while, to impart His love and truth and Word and share fellowship. You may be sowing or watering, helping them toward discipleship, or helping them grow within discipleship if they are at the place on their journey where they are ready to commit more of themselves to God. You’re there to help, to give them counsel when they ask, to share God’s principles with them, to help them understand His Word and ways, to encourage and support, to share your discipleship life journey with them.

Teaching and discipling someone takes time. But when we effectively disciple even one person, it’s time well spent. We may be inclined to view our success in teaching others based on the number of people we are teaching, but that isn’t the way it works. You just need to do what God has called you to do, and witness to and teach those whom He brings across your path, and you will make a difference.

Francis of Assisi said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” Our strength and our motivation for sharing Him starts with our loving Him, our being connected to Him. Then because we are loving Him, we will also be living Him, and others will feel Him through us. How you live your life, how you project Jesus, will make a difference in how the Great Commission is accomplished in your neighborhood, city, province, or country.

The ability of the Christian to witness, to live the life of a disciple, to preach Jesus, to teach Him, comes from doing those things that God has called disciples to do. It starts with the individual—the individual loving Him and living His principles, and then also having the conviction, the drive, the desire to witness, to win, to preach, to teach. Every one of us has some opportunity, some network, some realm in which we can be connecting with others and strengthening their faith, their hope, their spirits, through living our discipleship and bringing discipleship principles into our relationships.

The commission that Jesus has given to His disciples is to bring the gospel to all the world. Wherever the Lord has called you to is your mission field, and you are called to reach those He puts in your path. On an individual basis, you will most likely engage in the mission one on one with the people that you meet, work with, and come in contact with. Then, there’s also the aspect of combining your efforts with those of others. It could happen by joining forces in mission endeavors, or by meeting and praying together.—And ideally by bringing others into that meeting and praying together. That spiritual community becomes the seedbed, so to speak, from which the mission in your city or country can grow. Working within and expanding a spiritual community helps foster discipleship. It helps you as a disciple to stay spiritually connected to God and others, as you share your faith and grow in faith together.

Every nation on earth has people who need Jesus. Every city and every neighborhood contains those who need Him. You can be an instrument to bring Him to them. They need the unconditional love of God. They need disciples who can not only help them find salvation in Jesus, but also walk alongside them on their path in Christian growth and discipleship.

The job of the disciple is to win others. If you feel you can’t do much, just do what you can. The Lord will bless your efforts. Like the quote from Saint Francis, “make your walking your preaching.” Even if you can’t devote much time, or any time, to preaching right now, your life can be an example of Jesus’ love.

Be a disciple. Bring Jesus to others. Do what you can to propagate the mission. Propagating the mission is a key aspect of discipleship, and it’s the commission of God. Someone brought the gospel to you. Someone led you to Jesus. You have eternal life. You’ve been called to share that with others. Find out how to best do it where you are, in your city, in your neighborhood, among the people that you know, or to a wider audience through the Internet or e-mail, or through taking mission trips from time to time. Reach whomever God is calling you to reach in the manner He’s showing you to reach them. Work to change your part of the world, to change those that God has brought across your path.

Be instant in season and out of season. Share the gospel with those He brings you in contact with. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what His early disciples did. That’s how Christianity has continued to grow. And that’s how you, as a disciple, are fruitful.

 
 

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Anchor

Letting Go of Regret

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorIf only…

Sometimes you feel that if only you could turn back time, retrace your steps, and undo mistakes, things would be so much better. If only you could apply what you know now to past situations, you could reverse painful experiences and possibly change the course of your life. But the truth is, those situations—mistakes included—have made you the person you are today. The most painful and trying circumstances gave you strength and maturity. Through your mistakes you have learned invaluable lessons. Mistakes also help you to be more humble and therefore more loving, and that makes you more empathetic of others and able to understand the troubles they face.

So instead of regretting the past, be thankful for what it has taught you.

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

*

We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
—Steve Maraboli

 
It’s not the end yet

If some choice you made seems to have had a bad outcome, or one that is not what you had in mind, remember that you probably haven’t seen its full effect yet. What looks like a stone or a serpent may yet turn out to be bread—or even a three-course meal. (See Luke 11:11–13) Orson Welles once said, “A happy ending depends on where you stop your story.” Or, as someone else put it, “Everything will be okay in the end; and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet.” That principle is certainly true for those who love the Lord and look to Him for guidance, because He has promised to always work things out for our good in the end. (Romans 8:28)

It’s human nature to look back and have regrets about some of the things we did, or to wish we’d done them differently. God understands that and sympathizes. But it’s a mistake to overlook the good that also came from those experiences—the wisdom, maturity, and other lessons learned, which have helped to shape our character and prepare us for things to come.

When you look back on the past, make a conscious effort to count your blessings. Remember those “true, noble, just, pure, and lovely” things that also make up the story of your life. (See Philippians 4:8) Thank God for the good decisions you made in the past, as well as those that He’s going to help you to make in the future.

—Maria Fontaine

 
The city of regret

A significant hindrance to living life in the present is regret. It saps people’s energy and leaves little that enables them to do anything positive.

My friend Dwight Bain emailed me something called “The City of Regret” that tells the whole story:

I had not really planned to take a trip this year, yet I found myself packing anyway. And off I went, dreading it. I was on another guilt trip.

I booked my reservation on Wish I Had airlines. I didn’t check my bags—everyone carries their baggage on this airline. I had to drag it for what seemed like miles in the Regret City airport. And I could see that people from all over the world were there with me, limping along under the weight of bags they had packed themselves.

I caught a cab to Last Resort Hotel, the driver taking the whole trip backward, looking over his shoulder. And there I found the ballroom where my event would be held: the Annual Pity Party. As I checked in, I saw that all my old colleagues were on the guest list:

The Done family—Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda.

Both of the Opportunities—Missed and Lost.

All the Yesterdays—there were too many to count, but all would have sad stories to share.

Shattered Dreams and Broken Promises would be there, too, along with their friends Don’t Blame Me and Couldn’t Help It.

And of course, hours and hours of entertainment would be provided by that renowned storyteller, It’s Their Fault.

As I prepared to settle in for a really long night, I realized that one person had the power to send all those people home and break up the party: me. All I had to do was return to the present and welcome the new day!

If you have found yourself getting on a flight to the City of Regret, recognize that it’s a trip you book yourself, and you can cancel it at any time—without penalty or fee. But you’re the only one who can.

—John C. Maxwell (Failing Forward)

 
Admit your need

I see into your heart and know your regrets. I long to release you from their weight and take away the pain and hurt they cause you. You just need to give your regrets to Me; ask for help.

I am near to the broken-hearted and I save the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) Don’t try to hide the hurt in your heart from Me or yourself. Don’t try to pretend it’s not there. I already know everything about you, and it doesn’t change My love for you one iota.

You feel you deserve to bear the load of guilt and remorse, but that’s not the way it’s meant to be. You’ve made mistakes, but I died for the express purpose of lifting your mistakes and sins from your shoulders. Ask Me to forgive you, and I will both forgive you and free you from that weight and the burden of regret.

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

*

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 3:13–14 KJV

 
 

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Coffee and a Hug?

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorTony Campolo, popular Christian author, speaker, and sociologist, told of an encounter he had as he was walking in downtown Philadelphia:

“I noticed a bum walking toward me. He was covered with dirt and soot from head to toe. There was filthy stuff caked on his skin. But the most noticeable thing about him was his beard. It hung down almost to his waist and there was rotted food stuck in it. The man was holding a cup of McDonald’s coffee, and the lip of the cup was already smudged from his dirty mouth. As he staggered toward me, he seemed to be staring into his cup of coffee.

“Then, suddenly, he looked up and he yelled, ‘Hey, mister! Ya want some of my coffee?’

“I have to admit that I really didn’t. But I knew that the right thing to do was to accept his generosity, and so I said, ‘I’ll take a sip.’

“As I handed the cup back to him I said, ‘You’re getting pretty generous, aren’t you, giving away your coffee? What’s gotten into you today that’s made you so generous?’

“The old derelict looked straight into my eyes and said, ‘Well, the coffee was especially delicious today, and I figure if God gives you something good, you ought to share it with people!’

“I thought to myself, Oh, man. He has really set me up. This is going to cost me five dollars. I asked him, ‘I suppose there’s something I can do for you in return, isn’t there?’

“The bum answered, ‘Yeah! You can give me a hug!’ (To tell the truth, I was hoping for the five dollars.)

“He put his arms around me and I put my arms around him. Then suddenly I realized something. He wasn’t going to let me go! People were passing us on the sidewalk. They were staring at me. There I was, dressed in establishment garb, hugging this dirty, filthy bum! I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what to do.

“Then, little by little, my embarrassment changed to awe and reverence. I heard a voice echoing down the corridors of time saying, ‘I was hungry; did you feed Me? I was naked; did you clothe Me? I was sick; did you care for Me? I was the bum you met on Chestnut Street; did you hug Me? For if you did it to the least of these, you did it unto Me.’” (From Let Me Tell You A Story, by Tony Campolo)

Reflecting on this story, I asked myself, “Would I have that much love?”

Yes, I could give someone a tract, I could give someone money, I could say a few words of encouragement. But what if the situation, whatever it may be, calls on me to give more than I typically would, more than I’m used to giving?

It also got me thinking about the sacrifices that active Christians have made for years, and continue to make, to give God’s love to others.

As I meditated further on this story, it dawned on me that the key is: If God asks something of us, He will give us the grace to do it with all our hearts. When we share sincere and unfeigned love and care for others, whether in an old folks’ home, a prison, an orphanage, a hovel in the slums, or just out on the streets, it can be a sacrifice if we see it in terms of the physical. However, when we focus on the spiritual and the eternal impact that the Lord’s unconditional love has, as it pours through us to those in need, we find ourselves compelled by His Spirit to be whatever reflection of Him He knows is needed. Even the “unpleasant” in the physical becomes a thing of beauty as we become a link in the Lord’s connection to those in desperate need of a “hug” from their Savior.

How much love do I have? Hardly any compared to that of Jesus, I’m positive! I think that the Lord understands our frame and what we have the love and faith for. He may stretch us beyond what we are comfortable with, but He also knows how much we’re capable of. If the Lord specifically puts us in an uncomfortable situation and makes it clear to us what we should do, then He’ll give us the love and the grace to follow Him.

It’s not always such an unusual scenario as in this story. There are some things that are just plain common courtesy. I made the mistake once of not accepting an offer of some chips from a person’s potato chip bag—when it was a gesture of kindness on their part to offer it to me. I felt bad afterwards and promised myself that I would try to accept things that were offered whether I wanted it or not or whether I rarely ate such a food. Would I eat from somebody’s plate or drink from somebody’s cup? Probably not normally. But if the Lord put it on my heart that it was very important, then I hope I would.

Would I give a beggar a sincere hug? I would hope so, if the Lord indicated it was what He wanted me to do. I realize that what is a sacrifice for one person may not be a sacrifice for someone else. It may be easier for one person to give what little money they have to help another than it would be to give them a hug. For someone else, the hug might be easier. Or, a person might give sacrificially of their very limited time to sit and talk with a person more easily than they would give of their limited funds.

Can we ask the Lord to give us enough love so that when we’re faced with a situation, no matter what it is, we will do our best to respond to it as Jesus would? However big or small the sacrifice, we can be Jesus for someone not only through our spiritual ministration, but also by our physical actions, recognizing that it is Jesus we’re doing it to. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

 
 

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Activated

Walking with God

By Sally García

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In the very first chapters of Genesis, we read of an enigmatic character, Enoch. Though we know little about him now, it seems that Enoch was well-known in Jesus’ time, as the New Testament book of Jude records a prophecy received by him in relation to the Latter Days. (See Jude 1:14–15) This patriarch (born only seven generations after Adam) was also the father of the person who lived the longest in the Bible, Methuselah. (See Genesis 5:21,27)

The most interesting thing regarding Enoch is found in Genesis 5:24: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (NIV)

“Walked with God”—what do you think of when you hear that phrase?

Walking with God depicts harmony. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3) When we are walking with someone, we are usually side by side. We try not to go ahead or lag behind. Learning to walk in step with God is a lifetime adventure.

Walking with God is also symbolic of communing with God. Many of the great thinkers and writers, such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Jefferson, and Søren Kierkegaard, habitually went on walks for contemplation. Adam and Eve communed daily with God, walking in the Garden of Eden. (See Genesis 3:8)

Walking with God is a way of life. The Bible tells us to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2) and to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) It also says to walk honestly, (See 1 Thessalonians 4:12) walk in truth, (See 3 John 1:4) walk in light, (See 1 John 1:7) and walk in wisdom. (See Colossians 4:5) All of which is summed up simply by saying to walk in Christ. (See Colossians 2:6)

Paul wrote of the life of Enoch, saying, “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—‘he disappeared, because God took him.’ For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5 NLT) Enoch pleased God so much that it seems one day he just walked with God straight into heaven.

A life pleasing to God is a simple life of walking in communion with our Creator until one day we finish our journey in this world and safely arrive at our heavenly home.

 
 

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