That’s what the committed Christian desires — that is, to walk with God in a way that is pleasing to God. Our hope is that when this life is over and God takes us into His presence in heaven, we will hear Him say to us, “You lived in a way that was pleasing to me.” How to do that is spelled out simply and clearly in the bible. Let’s take a look.
Try to pray often each day. At the beginning and end of the day, also during the day. Long prayers, short prayers, seeking the Lord prayers, driving-in-the-car prayers, at-stop-light prayers, putting-the-kids-to-bed prayers, prayer for someone you are thinking of, and many other scenarios as well. The key is to develop an attitude, an ongoing habit, of prayer.
I was reading a devotional the other day, and it suggested what I believe is a terrific way to remain prayerful throughout the day. The writer said that as he encountered people, even just passing them by, he would offer a brief, silent prayer for them. Often just a few seconds’ worth. So I’ve been trying that and have been amazed at how easily it keeps my attention focused on the Lord.
Remember to praise God throughout the day. “Seven times” a day — seven being the number of fullness, completion. In other words, not a specific number of times, but often! Cultivate in yourself a heart of praise, of gratitude, of thankfulness to God for His goodness and His many blessings. Let there be a song of praise to the Lord in your heart and, when circumstances allow, on your lips.
Read your bible daily “all the days of [your] life.” Make the Bible your “daily bread.” Perhaps also you might start or finish the day with a good devotional or two that comments of the Word of God. And read the Scriptures themselves slowly, attentively, to savor their profound richness. My wife and I have developed a habit of reading God’s Word out loud to each other. One of us will typically read 8-10 verses, and we often stop to talk about what we just read. Then the other will read 8-10 verses, with discussion. And back and forth. We find this very edifying. And over the course of time we’ve found that this takes us through the bible typically in about one year.
Fix your heart and your mind on heavenly things. The derogatory expression “He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good” is insulting and anti-Scriptural! As we read the four Gospels, we see Jesus, our perfect example, consistently directing His thoughts heavenward. Unlike Jesus, our problem is being too earthly minded! Take time to think about the things of God. Reflect upon “...his acts of power ... [and] his surpassing greatness” (Psalm 150:2). The apostle Paul is exhorting us to set our affections and our thoughts “above.”
When you awaken in the night, don’t think about problems, deadlines, and the next day’s stress. I know personally how easy it is to fall into that trap. I can remember having minor panic attacks when I woke up at night and thought of a rental house I owned that had been the object of vandalism. The key is to refocus your thoughts, not on your problems, but on the Solution, on God. “Remember ... [and] think of” the Lord. The nighttime is a great time to meditate quietly on God’s greatness and His goodness to you. Push aside those middle-of-the-night fears and anxieties, and replace them with prayer, praise, and reflection on God and His goodness to you.
Share your heart openly with the Lord. Express your feelings of love for Him. Talk with Him in prayer and praise. Tell Him you love Him! He greatly desires us to love Him. In fact, Jesus said that loving God is the greatest command of the bible. And as you pray, praise, feed on His Word, and think about Him, that love will grow. Also (see the final two verses below), focus some of your thoughts, energy, efforts, and love on other people. Jesus said that is the second-most important command of the bible — to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Love your neighbor. That means things like: Don’t speak badly of him. Don’t be always irritated at him. Try to get a sensing of his problems and needs. Make an effort to get to know him. Extend yourself to him, as Jesus did to you. I will confess, it’s not always easy to love your “neighbor.” But it is of great importance to God that we do. If you don’t find loving others easy, ask God to help you see them through His eyes and from His heart.
Regard “all people” as potential ones to whom you can extend yourself and do good to them. Realistically, we know that no one can reach “all” people. So try something the Lord showed me years ago. At the beginning of each day, pray this simple prayer, “Lord, let me have a touch in someone’s life for You today.” It may be a kind word, or giving something to someone in need, or the proverbial “cup of cold water” to someone who is thirsty. The opportunities are limitless. Just ask the Lord each day to lead you to someone to whom you can express the love and grace of the Lord that day, with or without words.
And “especially” be sure to reach out to fellow believers. If opportunities or resources are limited, the apostle says to prioritize your fellow-believers, your brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is a virtual certainty that you know someone needy in your church that you could reach out to today, or this week. Bring them a meal. Take them out for coffee and some much-needed fellowship. Offer to pray for any needs they might have. This is loving our neighbor at its best. Again, the opportunities to express love are virtually without limit. Just ask the Lord to give you that “touch” in a fellow believer’s life today.
To summarize: At the end of any day in which you’ve done a good number of these things, you can look back and say, “That was an excellent day walking with the Lord.” And at the end of your earthly life, like Enoch, you too will be “commended as one who pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).
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©2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.