Category Archives: Activated

Activated

Just Do It!

By Peter Amsterdam, adapted

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Every day, when you step out the door to go to work or on an appointment, or to take the kids to school or the park, or when you’re at home working or cooking or cleaning, if you’re praying as you do so, you’re going to “the market,” so to speak, and you should take along a pretty big “basket” of faith and expectancy for God to work in and through your life to fulfill His purposes. Through our prayers we create a vacuum for God to work, and we should expect that He is going to respond according to His will.

The key is doing. Staking out the land and catching the train of golden opportunities. Being flexible and willing to change as needed—whether that means changing yourself, changing your plans, or changing your schedule.

Here are a few concrete actions we can take:

 
Have faith

Faith and trust in God and a willingness to follow where He leads. When we ask God for opportunities and open doors, He will not fail to bring them along in His time. Thank Him for them and then actively pursue them—even if they are new, different, or unexpected.

 
Begin

To follow in the direction God leads us, we’ve got to be willing to try new things and follow through. We have to show God that we mean business and we’re serious. If you do that, you can bet your bottom dollar that He is going to come through, sweep away the obstacles, and do over and above His part of the bargain.

 
Recognize opportunity

Some of the opportunities that come your way won’t pan out. Some of the risks you take won’t bring forth any spectacular or visible fruit, at least not immediately. Sometimes you might have to keep going with something for quite a while before it blossoms.

Sometimes the risks you take might even cost you. Not every single venture or opportunity will be immediately successful. Some might not be successful at all. But it’s better to try something new and discover that it doesn’t work than to never try anything different or outside the box. It’s better to boldly seize an opportunity—even if you’re not quite sure where or how it’s going to go—than to play it so safe and walk with such hesitancy that you miss the open doors and setups that God wants to engineer.

If you jump at an opportunity and it doesn’t seem to be working well, you can put it on pause and commit it to prayer. If something doesn’t pan out, you can close the door and move on to something else. That’s not failure. That’s experience. That’s trying the new. When opportunities come around, if you hesitate, you might not get a second chance. So don’t be afraid to give new things a try.

Being willing to experiment and try new things is exactly what it takes to be in tune with the needs of today. You have to be able to endure a bit of failure too. Pioneers, explorers, inventors, and entrepreneurs often face setbacks and failures—sometimes many—before they hit their eureka moment. It’s not a bad sign if you don’t strike gold immediately. Finding out where it isn’t can be just as valuable in some cases as finding out where it is!

 
Seize the moment

What if Lazarus’ family had said to Jesus, “Well now, Jesus‚ we’re not quite ready for Lazarus’ resurrection! We haven’t got his room ready yet, and we’ve got to get his clothes back from the people we gave them to. Wait till tomorrow and we’ll roll away the stone. You can come back tomorrow, Lord, and raise him from the dead.” Jesus would probably have been far gone from there by that time, and it would have been too late.

The secret is following God and moving with His Spirit, which includes being ready to take advantage of His setups. And His setups sometimes defy human logic and earthly conventions, meaning they will happen on God’s timetable, not ours.
 

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The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)

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Often, the most extraordinary opportunities are hidden among the seemingly insignificant events of life. If we do not pay attention to these events, we can easily miss the opportunities.
—Jim Rohn (1930–2009)

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It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
—Whitney Young (1921–1971)

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Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, “Certainly I can!” And get busy and find out how to do it.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Yolo or Carpe Diem?

By Tina Kapp

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Most people have heard the acronym “YOLO” thrown around for the past couple of years. It stands for “you only live once.” Pop stars and celebrities have made it a catchphrase to promote doing crazy things or taking risks because, hey, “You only live once!”

It’s an attractive thought. Why worry about the future? Why subscribe to having to answer for decisions we make when we can pretend it all doesn’t matter anyway? Why can’t we only be concerned about what makes us happy right now?

Well, when you get older, you realize that life doesn’t work like that, and you start having to pay for the decisions you made earlier. In most cases, those who live life with that motto begin wishing they had thought about the long term a bit sooner.

I remember struggling with my weight as a teenager. I hated feeling overweight. I didn’t get chosen for local school dance teams and often felt insecure. I thought about it constantly. Did that stop me from overeating unhealthy food when I had the opportunity? Not a chance! At that moment, all I cared about was that it tasted good and I wanted it! When confronted with some delectable delight, all thoughts of being healthy magically disappeared … until later when I’d get depressed that I couldn’t lose weight. That was me living strictly in the moment with no thought for the long term.

Now that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy life. God doesn’t want us to be miserable. “Happy are the people who are in such a state;” the Bible says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15) “Do not sorrow,” it tells us, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus wants us to experience God’s love and the many blessings that He gives us every day.

Since we only have one life, what do we want to do with it? What do we want to be remembered for? What would be a life that we can look back at and be proud of? The well-known saying “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “seize the day”) has a positive feel to it. It’s the same rationale that you only live once, but rather than taking it as a reason to do crazy things, ignore consequences, and live for the now, it means to go further, to do more, and to not waste time.

Life is made up of lots of days. Some will be fun and chilled, while others will be hard work. Think of Olympic gold medalists. The day that they compete and win will go down in history, and I bet it will remain as one of the best days of their lives. But to get there, it takes years of training, hard work, and focus. Think of your favorite musician playing to a massive audience. Again, they only got there through countless days of faithful practice, rehearsals, and playing for anyone who would listen until they got their big break.

All our favorite Bible characters experienced something similar. Think of Noah building the ark or Joseph saving Egypt from starvation. The good days didn’t come from them sitting around only doing what they felt like and enjoying the YOLO days. It took hard work and planning so that when the time came, their single life would save many more and leave its mark on the world.

The prodigal son believed you only live once. (See Luke 15:11–32) He didn’t want to wait for his inheritance. He wanted to party and have fun now. He pestered his father for his share of his inheritance and then immediately “set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13 NIV) I’m sure he had a fabulous time … until the money ran out, and with it, all his so-called “friends.” They left him in rags, begging for food, when he had nothing left.

Ecclesiastes warns us, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

All of the choices we make have consequences—from little things like eating vegetables, to studying and working hard toward a goal, to living a godly life. Understanding that now can help you make wise decisions and have something wonderful to show for it at the end of your days.

Don’t let life pass you by. Make the most of it so that you can look back and be encouraged by what you’ve accomplished.

 
 

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Activated

Points to Ponder: Facing Fears

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
—Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

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If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops.
—Ecclesiastes 11:4 ERV

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Facing your fears robs them of their power.
—Mark Burnett (b. 1960)

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Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
—Dale Carnegie (1888–1955)

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Winners are those people who make a habit of doing the things that [others] are uncomfortable doing.
—Ed Foreman (b. 1933)

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Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
—Napoleon Hill (1883–1970)

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You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
—Wayne Gretzky (b. 1961)

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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. … You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

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Do the thing you fear and keep on doing it … that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.
—Dale Carnegie

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Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.
—Judy Blume (b. 1938)

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Waiting to develop courage is just another form of procrastination. The most successful people take action while they’re afraid!
—Unknown

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The greatest failure is the failure to try. When I die I want four words written on my tombstone: “At least he tried.” For the glory of God. You’ve got to take risks. That’s what brings abundance. That’s what brings success in life. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is.
—Rick Warren (b. 1954)

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[The things we need to do to reach our goals] may all be things that are uncomfortable at first. So what! Do it anyway! One of the ways to get through the discomfort is simply to do the thing you are uncomfortable doing.
—Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, The Aladdin Factor (New York: Berkley Trade, 1995)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Slay the Dragon!

By Peter Amsterdam, adapted

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Throughout our lives, we encounter situations and opportunities that have potential to open new doors for our future. Sometimes, it’s very clear that God is opening a door; other times, we simply have a sense in our heart. There’s often an accompanying feeling of excitement and positive anticipation that calls us to advance into unfamiliar territory.

After preparing and evaluating a plan, we can find ourselves on the verge of making a decision and taking action. Everything is set, we’re ready to start. But then what happens? Why do we sometimes delay making the decision or avoid taking the needed first steps?

Often, the culprit is fear, and it can be paralyzing. In my own life, fear shows up in many ways. I’ve recognized there are times when I’m afraid of failing or of making a mistake or of what something might cost in terms of hard work and sacrifice.

Those are not the only kinds of fears that hold us back. Sometimes taking the next step involves asking for advice, financial help, or permission. In such instances, the fear of rejection comes to the fore. Even if we don’t take the time to analyze and identify our emotions and put these fears into words, they’re there and they hold us back. So what do we do about that?

God’s Word says: “There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18 ISV)

Having faith in God’s goodness and believing that He wants to bless us puts us on the path to overcoming fear. But this victory over fear can’t just be in our thoughts; it’s not just a philosophical or spiritual matter. God often expects us to face our fears and take action and move in the right direction. We have to come to grips with our fears and overcome them so that we can be free to pursue our lives and have the full experience that God intends for us.

Let’s say you’ve written a book and are looking for a publisher. In the meantime, you’ve decided to personally market your book by going to local bookstores and libraries. So you take your printed copies, and off you go to pitch your idea to store managers and those who have the authority to help you. But it’s not as easy as you thought it would be to ask them to promote your book. In fact, it’s so hard you don’t get a single order, and you toy with the idea of quitting. You procrastinate. You go to the bookstores, but then walk out again, telling yourself, It’s not the right time; they’re too busy today. Eventually you pull the books out of the trunk of your car, thinking that maybe after the school year (or holiday or summer or whatever) will be better timing.

This same scenario of procrastination that leads to inactivity can show up in any number of situations or circumstances. Other examples might include asking for a raise at work, seeking a scholarship for college, asking someone out on a date, wanting to take a relationship to the next level, looking for more responsibility in your job, etc.

If we have a dream, waiting will not help us achieve it. Telling ourselves that tomorrow is better for X reason is usually just an excuse. We’re afraid, and instead of admitting it and taking the chance of a step toward that dream, we talk ourselves out of it and then justify our lack of action.

We have to take the first step. Often, the longer we wait, the more nervous we get. We get used to things the way they are, and change becomes harder and scarier and more uncomfortable.

Growth and development require some discomfort. As my skiing instructor said, “If you want to get good at skiing, you’ve got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

An important aspect of getting out of your comfort zone has to do with starting before you feel ready. If you wait until you feel like you’re “ready”… well, we know what that leads to—procrastination, distraction, perfectionism, and sadly, often total inaction. Realistically, you may never feel like you’re ready. But if you can muster up the courage to just start, even if you don’t feel ready, you’ll be miles ahead.

The sooner we take the plunge and endure those terribly uncomfortable first steps, the sooner we’ll get past that scary stage and start to have a lot more success. It’s a predictable cycle: decide what you want to do, be confident of God’s blessing in the matter, make a plan, commit to it, begin, do it again and again, and with time you’ll get better and better!

When you are faced with doing something that’s difficult for you, ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen? When you answer that question and then determine that you’d be able to handle that worst-case scenario, it will relieve the tension and help you to face your fears.

Also, if you’re embarking on a new project or challenge that makes you feel uneasy and scared, it helps if you give yourself permission to be awkward and to stumble and to not be perfect. Realize and accept that you’re not going to be good in the beginning. In fact, you might fail at first, and that’s okay.

There’s nothing wrong with being awkward while you’re getting the hang of something new, so go ahead with whatever the challenge is and just say to yourself, It’s perfectly fine that I’m not very good at this yet. I’ll get better. I’m going through the steps to greatness.

When you lower your expectations for immediate success, it makes it easier to actually take the first step toward a new challenge. With this attitude, the “firsts” that we’re afraid of can become gateways to amazing progress.

Here’s a story that we might all relate to, as told by Rory Vaden:

I once heard a true story of a woman who was trapped in a burning building on the 80th floor. She was terrified of heights and enclosed spaces, and when the fire alarm went off, she refused to follow her colleagues into the stairwell to evacuate to safety.

The firemen did a sweep of the building and found her hiding under her desk, waiting to die. She was screaming “I’m scared, I’m scared!” as the firemen insisted she walk down the stairwell until one fireman said, “That’s OK, just do it scared.” He repeated it all the way down the 80 flights of stairs, until he brought her to safety.

We’ve all faced these moments in our careers—when you know what has to be done, but your fear holds you back. In order to stand out, you must develop the habit of acting in the face of fear. It’s fine to be scared—do it scared. It’s fine to be unsure—do it unsure. It’s fine to be uncomfortable—do it uncomfortable. Just do something. (“To Reach the Top, Do What Others Won’t,” CNN, March 12, 2012)

I’d say taking that first daunting step is the hardest part. The next biggest test comes in persisting. When you’re not good at something, you encounter a lot of seeming “failure.” But if you keep doing it over and over, and learning from the reactions you get, pretty soon you’ll be good and then great.

A new challenge can be very awkward, even scary at first. But if we deliberately put ourselves out there and do the very thing that we’re afraid of, it becomes easier and we get better at it. Eventually we will no longer be afraid. That is conquering our fears!

 
 

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Activated

The Seasons of Life

By Mara Hodler

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

This is a big life lesson. It is really good news … and not such great news at the same time. Regardless of how you may feel at the moment, what season of life you are currently living through, you can probably expect a change at some point, because, as we know, seasons come and go.

When King Solomon wrote the preceding scripture, he gave a lot of examples of the seasons and ways our lives can change:

A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to uproot
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to tear down and a time to build
A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing
A time to search and a time to give up
A time to keep and a time to throw away
A time to tear and a time to mend
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace.
–Ecclesiastes 3:2–8 NIV

One of the most beautiful promises in the Bible is given in the same chapter: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

I like the part that says “no one can fathom.” When I was a teenager, I had so many plans and ideas of what I wanted my life to look like. Most of the ideas I had were good, or at least okay. I wasn’t (only) dreaming of being a celebrity or millionaire. I also wanted to be able to rush to anywhere in the world that needed help. I wanted to help orphans and wipe out poverty. If and when I had kids, I wanted to raise them in an African village where we all worked together to help a community thrive. That’s what I wanted. It really sounded like a good dream; it still does sometimes.

But God had a plan for me that I did not fathom.

I’m still watching that plan develop, but I’ve learned enough to know that God’s design is so much more far-reaching than anything I could fathom. I’ve learned that God is present in both times of sowing and times of reaping. And something else I’ve come to realize is that both seasons are repeating.

A farmer plants his crops every spring and harvests them every fall. Each year. He doesn’t get upset that he’s planting again another year. He doesn’t scream out in frustration, I just did this last year! Why again? In the fall when it’s time to gather in the crops, he doesn’t tell himself, Yay! I’ll never have to do that again! The farmer knows the cycle will repeat every year, and he’s okay with that.

In that way, we should all make peace with the seasons in our lives. There is a time to laugh, and a time to cry, a time to sow, and a time to reap, a time to give, and a time to receive. It’s all gonna happen.

In Texas, where I live, the weather is crazy. One day you’re in shorts. The next day you’re pulling out your winter gear because there’s a cold front coming through. On the blistering hot days, of which today is one, it’s hard to remember that it also gets cold around here—even freezing cold.

It’s the same with the seasons of life. When the sad times come, it’s hard to remember that there’s also a lot of happiness. When things disappoint, it’s easy to forget about all the things that have worked out smoothly.

To God, one season isn’t more precious than another. He can use each season in our lives to bring about His design. Sometimes I think that God is smiling on me when things are going great, and that a trial or misfortune means I have fallen out of His favor. But experience has taught me that this is not so. A great artist will use lovely, bright colors—reds, yellows, purples, and blues—to convey inspiration, but not without the contrasts of black, the muted grays, and the blurred whites.

We need to trust the Artist. His work speaks for itself, and time and again, He has proven that He does indeed make everything beautiful in His time. Each of our lives is no exception to the high and low seasons. And neither is it an exception to the promise that it will be beautiful in His time.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Soul Food

By David Brandt Berg, adapted

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The Word of God is the most powerful truth on earth.—Words that contain the very spirit and life of God Himself. (See John 4:24) The Word is the spiritual spark of God that ignites us with His life, light, and power. Reading, absorbing, and following God’s Word is one of the most important things you can do to build your relationship with Him. It’s what keeps you in tune with God and helps you to keep going God’s way. When you listen to God and His Word and obey His truth, you’ll be happy and fruitful. (See John 15:11; 13:17)

Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) His Word is the very life of God. That’s what gives us spiritual life, food, nourishment, strength, and health. This is why a good wholesome balanced diet of His Word is essential if you wish to grow and stay close to Him.

Jesus Himself is called “The Word” in the Bible. (See Revelation 19:13; John 1:1,14) Jesus is the Word, the Spirit and the life, and you need to have a dose of Him every day, a good feeding and feasting and drinking, if you’re going to grow and stay healthy spiritually. Just as you have to eat in order to have physical strength, you have to feed and drink from God’s Word to have spiritual strength.

“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2) When you’re spiritually weak, it’s often because you haven’t really feasted on, been filled up with, and been strengthened by the good, wholesome, nourishing, encouraging and feeding truth of God’s Word. You can’t get so busy with other things that you neglect your inspiration, the spiritual food and nourishment that you need from the Word. There are times when I would have really gotten discouraged if I had not drunk deeply of God’s Word.

If you sincerely seek God as you read His Word, He will speak to you through it. And the more dearly you begin to love His Word and the more you study it and feed from it, the more you will grow spiritually and the more you will find that God can speak to you clearly and directly through His written Word.

When the Holy Spirit quickens a passage of the Bible or verse to you, applying it to your own personal situation, it brings the Word to life. The Lord will bring His Word to life and speak to you personally, giving you direction for your problems and answers to your prayers, as you read His Word. When He helps you apply it to a situation, it suddenly becomes alive. The Bible isn’t mere words anymore, or words that just run through your head, but it reaches your heart and you really get the point. “The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” (Psalm 119:130 NLT)

The prophet Jeremiah said, “When your words turned up, I feasted on them; and they became my joy, the delight of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16 CEB) Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12 NIV)

Jesus said, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42 NLT) What is the “one thing” that Mary chose? She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His words. Resting in the Lord and sitting at His feet and hearing from Him and His Word is so necessary. God’s Word is just that important.

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Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival.
—Dallin H. Oaks (b. 1932)
 
God’s presence is everywhere around us. God is able to penetrate and intertwine himself within the fibers of the human self in such a way that those who are enveloped in His loving companionship will never be alone.
—Dallas Willard (1935–2013)
 
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)
 
There are many means by which Christians are spiritually nurtured and fed, and God is not limited to any specific method to touch your heart, to reveal something to you, to increase your faith, or to uplift and inspire you. God wants to communicate with His children. The important thing is that we allow Him to speak to our hearts through the spiritual instruction we read, and to guide us in our relationship with Him and our spiritual lives.
—Maria Fontaine, current co-director of the Family International

 
 

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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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