3 Jan 2017
Walk with God
I love walking. Apparently, it is one of the best forms of physical exercise. Walking for 30–60 minutes a day, five days a week reduces the chances of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression. It can increase life expectancy too.
Of course, walking is also a means of transport. In the ancient world it was the most common – and for some people the only – means of getting around.
Whether we are walking for physical exercise or as a means of transport, it is one of those activities that is more enjoyable to do with someone else. Walking and talking is a great way to communicate with family and friends.
The point is that we are doing two things at the same time. We are not just taking exercise or travelling. As we walk together we are in communion with one another. Both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). They didn’t just sit, kneel or stand with God (the kind of actions we would often associate with spending time with God), but they were also in communion with God when doing something else. While you are doing other things – working, eating, exercising or relaxing – you can be in communion with God at the same time.
The Bible has a great deal to say about walking with God. It is how we were intended to live. It was only Adam and Eve’s sin that made them hide when they ‘heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day’ (Genesis 3:8).
God’s desire for you is that you walk humbly in a relationship with him (Micah 6:8). This is what Jesus has made possible – for you to walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). Now you may stumble from time to time, but one day you will walk with him ‘dressed in white’ (Revelation 3:4).
1. Walk with your head held high
David walked with God. But this does not mean that everything was perfect.
This psalm was written during a rebellion by David’s son Absalom that had been partly caused by David’s adultery (see 2 Samuel 12:11). Yet David repented of what he had done, and God forgave him and restored his relationship.
David did not have an easy life: ‘Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”’ (Psalm 3:1–2). But David cries out to God: ‘But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory around me and lift up my head’ (v.3). Like David, bring your fears and requests to God: ‘To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill’ (v.4).
In spite of his distressing situation God lifted up David’s head. God does not want you to be downcast – constantly looking at the regrets behind you, the problems around you and the sin within you. Rather, he wants you to lift up your head and see the help above you – to walk with your head held high, and your eyes fixed on him.
David was able to say, ‘I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side’ (vv.5–6). In spite of all the troubles, he seems to have a deep peace – like a lake where there may be rough waves on the surface, but deeper down there is a great stillness.
Lord, I pray for the year ahead that you would help me to walk with you daily in the way of peace, with my head held high, trusting you to supply all I need for the day ahead.
2. Walk in step with the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Whereas John’s baptism was symbolic, Jesus would ‘baptise you with the Holy Spirit’ (v.12). This prophecy is then dramatically affirmed as the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as he is baptised (v.16), showing that he is the one John is speaking about, and that he is able to pour out this same Holy Spirit on you and me.
In many ways Jesus’ baptism was different from ours. He did not need to be baptised ‘for repentance’, and he was already filled with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist was hesitant about baptising him (v.14) but Jesus said, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness’ (v.15).
Jesus identified with us, sinful human beings, right from the start. He did this so that he could bear our sin on the cross for us. As a result, you are able to experience the Holy Spirit in a similar way and walk ‘in step with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25). We see here something of what it means to walk ‘in step with the Spirit’:
Get refined in the fire
John said that whereas he baptised with water, Jesus would baptise ‘with the Holy Spirit and fire’ (Matthew 3:11). The Holy Spirit will come like a refining fire to bring power and purity in your life. Knowing the refining fire of the Spirit in this life means that you can be free from the fear of the fire of judgment when Jesus returns (v.12).
Be filled with peace
When Jesus was baptised and came out of the water, ‘heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him’ (v.16). The dove is a symbol of peace that the Holy Spirit brings to your life. The ‘fruit of the Spirit is… peace’ (Galatians 5:22).
Be assured of your adoption
A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son’ (Matthew 3:17). Jesus is the Son of God in a unique way. However, the Holy Spirit assures all of us that through what Jesus has done for us, we too are sons and daughters of God: You receive the spirit of adoption. And by him you cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Holy Spirit himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God (see Romans 8:15–16).
Know that you are loved by God
The voice from heaven said ‘… whom I love…’ (Matthew 3:17). The apostle Paul writes that God’s love for you is poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Feel his pleasure
The voice from heaven says, ‘with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). Again, it was supremely true of Jesus but as you walk in step with the Spirit, you too can experience this sense of God’s delight and pleasure. I love the moment in the film Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says, ‘When I run I feel his pleasure.’
Lord, thank you that you give me your Holy Spirit to refine me, to give me peace, to assure me that I am a child of God, to know your love and to feel your pleasure. Help me to walk ‘in step with the Spirit’.
3. Walk in relationship with God
Human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation. God created us to walk in relationship with him. ‘When God created the human race, he made it godlike, with a nature akin to God. He created both male and female and blessed them, the whole human race’ (5:1–2, MSG).
However, sadly the human race went astray: ‘Human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil, evil from morning to night… it broke [God’s] heart’ (6:5–6, MSG).
Evil starts in our thinking and imagination – that is, in our hearts. It is a case of ‘garbage in, garbage out’. We need to watch not just our actions but also our thoughts, attitudes, motives and imagination.
In the midst of corruption and evil, it is possible to be different and to make a difference. Enoch and Noah are two examples of those who did not go along with the crowd but ‘walked with God’.
‘Enoch walked with God’ (5:22). I wonder whether the birth of his first child had an impact on Enoch. There is something so powerful, amazing and almost miraculous about seeing the birth of our own children. One of my very close friends became a Christian through experiencing the birth of his first child.
It appears that ‘after the birth of Methuselah’ (v.22), Enoch walked faithfully with God for the rest of his life. ‘Enoch walked steadily with God. And then one day he was simply gone: God took him’ (v.24, MSG).
Noah also walked with God. He found ‘grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord’ (v.8, AMP). In spite of all the evil going on around him, ‘Noah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community. Noah walked with God’ (6:9, MSG). Noah believed God and built a boat, even though it was not raining and there was no water in sight. Noah did exactly what God told him to do (7:22).
Lord, help me to follow the example of Enoch and Noah. Help me to be righteous and blameless in my thoughts, words and deeds, walking with you in a close relationship. Help me, like Noah, to do everything you tell me to do.
The average age for starting a family seems to be a little later than it is today. Jared has his first child at 162. This is the opposite of teenage pregnancy!
It obviously took him a long time to prepare for fatherhood. But he did a very good job because his son Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22–24).
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