CULTIVATING A PERSONAL WALK WITH GOD

 BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

Walking with God is a personal, individual decision you make in a community of other believers or non-believers. Not walking with God is also a personal decision. If you want to walk with God, you don’t need others’ decisions; only your decision is important. Joshua aptly said, “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 NLT). His mind was made up; he couldn’t care what others’ decisions were.

Walking with God means living a life that pleases Him. It means living in obedience to the will of God. It also means walking in close fellowship with God.

It wasn’t only Joshua in the Bible who worked with God. There were other people whose lives we can learn from.  All of them took the personal decision to walk with God. Let me mention a few here.

i. Enoch walked with God. “When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Genesis 5:21-24 NLT).

That phrase walking in close fellowship with God in that scripture is rendered walking with God in some Bible translations. So walking with God is walking in close fellowship with God. Notice that Enoch so walked in close fellowship with God that God didn’t allow him to taste death. He was not allowed to leave this earth the natural way human beings depart. He just disappeared one day.

ii. Noah walked with God. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9 NIV). It wasn’t easy for Noah but he took the decision still. He was the odd man out. The Bible tells us the condition in his society then: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5 NIV).

Genesis 6:11-12 gives us more information on that so nobody will have any excuse not to walk in close fellowship with God: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways” (NIV). No matter what others do, you can decide to walk with God.

iii. Joseph walked with God. His walk with God made him not do what would displease God. Joseph told Mrs. Potiphar who seduced him to sleep with her: “My master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (Genesis 39:8-9 NLT). Because he walked with God, the Bible says God was also with him. “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master” (Genesis 39:2 NIV). When you walk with God, you will enjoy His presence in every situation.

iv. Abraham walked with God. Because Abraham walked so much with God, he was called the friend of God. “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2 Chronicles 20:7 NKJV). You can’t be called somebody’s friend except you walk with him. In fact, when God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, God asked, “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?… For Abraham will become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD and do what is right and just. Then I will do for him all that I have promised” (Genesis 18:17-19 NLT). God and Abraham were so close that Abraham could negotiate with Him the terms for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were friends!

Abraham was 75 years old when he set out of Haran to obey God after the death of his father, Terah (Genesis 12:4). And in Genesis 17:1, God told him “walk before me and be thou perfect.”

Your name can be added to this list if you will make a personal decision today that notwithstanding what others do or don’t do, notwithstanding the mistakes you have made in the past, notwithstanding your previous failed decisions, you will take a fresh decision now and walk with God.

Abraham left Haran to finally obey God at 75 years, leaving his country, his people, and his father’s household to go to the land God wanted to show him. Are you up to 75 years? It is unlikely, and let us assume you are, God has not shut against you the door of close fellowship with Him. He is eager and willing to receive you. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless’” (Genesis 17:1 NIV). That was when Abraham was 99 years old, 24 years after he left Haran in obedience to God. I have asked myself many times what God thought Abraham had been doing since. Our walk with Him on earth can never finish; it must be continuous and become better.

Are you up to 99 years yet? I’m not sure you are. But whatever your age is, God wants you to come into fellowship with him. Will you take that decision today? First, you need to admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross shedding his blood to save you and resurrected from the dead on the third day. You need to confess him as your Savior and Lord. That is what is meant by being born again. Will you do that right away? It’s the best decision you can ever make. I congratulate you if you have taken that decision.

Steps To Close Fellowship With God

The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia which means partnership, intercourse, communication, communion, distribution. And this, in this context, the koinonia is between God and man. What are the steps to walking in close fellowship with God?

1.Deny yourself (self-denial) and follow God. If you’re going to walk in close fellowship with God, you must take your cross daily and follow Him. That means you deny yourself. You can’t have your cake and eat it. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it’” (Matthew 16:24-25 NIV). Mark 8:34-35 and Luke 9:23-24 say the same thing. Carrying your cross daily and following him means that you don’t allow your problems, negative circumstances, and the challenges of life you’re facing to stop you or hinder you from walking with the Lord. You’ll always experience these things at one point or the other in your journey in life whether you sin or not; they’re your regular companion!

2. Consecrate yourself. To walk with God, you must consecrate yourself to holy living. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV). God hates sin though He loves the sinner.

Holiness must become your watchword if you want to walk with the Lord. Make sure you don’t soil your clothes. “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4 NLT). In Zechariah 3, Joshua, a priest of God was resisted by satan and could not minister because he was wearing a filthy garment. The filthy garment had to be removed and he was given a change of raiment, an honorable garment.

3. Fear God. Reverence for God is a necessary requirement in walking with God. God is a good, loving, caring, and compassionate God but whoever will walk with Him must have His fear because God is also a consuming fire. “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24 NIV). Hebrews 12:29 says the same thing. If you’ll not reverence the Lord, you’re not ready to walk with Him. “Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him” (Deuteronomy 8:6 NIV). You must walk in the fear of the Lord (Nehemiah 5:9). Joshua said, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness…” (Joshua 24:14 NIV).

The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 15:33). The Bible also says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom/knowledge (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). Conversely, the lack of fear of the Lord is foolishness; the lack of fear of the Lord is the beginning of foolishness. Proverbs 16:6 tells us that it is the fear of the LORD that makes us depart from evil. It was this fear that was in Joseph when he said, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9 KJV)

4. Maintain unbroken fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Walking with God is only possible with the help of the Spirit of God. Therefore you need to fellowship with the Spirit of God to be able to walk with God because indeed there is no difference between God and the Holy Spirit. No one knows the mind of God as much as the Spirit of God and he is the only one that can convey the mind of God to us (1 Corinthians 2:11).

You must live by the Spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:16-18 NIV). Verse 25 also talks of walking in the spirit. God is a Spirit and you can only walk with Him in the Spirit (John 4:24). “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV).

You can’t walk with God without a vibrant prayer life. You must regularly spend time with God in prayer. You also need to pray in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20). Constant prayer was Jesus’ lifestyle – he prayed both privately and publicly. With the story of the persistent widow, Jesus taught the need for constant prayer and to never give up (Luke 18:1). Daniel prayed three times a day giving thanks before his God (Daniel 6:10). How often do you pray?

Learn to wait upon the Lord. Isaiah 40:30-31 says, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV). With the help of the Holy Spirit, stand upon your watch in prayer and quietness of spirit to hear what the Lord will tell you (Habakkuk 2:1 KJV).

Jim Eliot hit the nail on the head when he said many years ago: “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements. Noise, hurry, and crowds. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” In quietness and in confidence is your strength (Isaiah 30:15).

Whatever junction you are in life at the moment and no matter your mistakes in the past, you can start a new walk with God today; you can improve your walk with God. God is a merciful God, and He’ll help us in Jesus’ name.

5. Treasure the word of God. Treasure the Word of God enough to read it, study it, meditate on it, confess it, and obey it. Job 23:12 says, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (NKJV).

You can’t be a friend to somebody you treat his words with levity. The importance you attach to somebody’s word shows the regard you have for him. The Word of God is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path (Psalm 119:105). Study and meditate on the Word. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 NIV).

Studying and meditating on the Word of God helps you to renew your mind from worldly influence past, present, and future. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV). Meditating on the Word of God and obeying it is a sure way to be blessed in your walk with God.

Psalm 119:1 says, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD” (KJV). The Bible says if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good (best) of the land  (Isaiah 1:19). The converse is also true. The Word of God in your heart will make you not sin against him (Psalm 119:11). D. L. Moody is quoted as saying, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

6. Develop a healthy church life. Walking with God is a personal decision but we need other believers in this journey. Hebrews 10:25 says not to forsake the assembling together of saints. Only those planted in the house of God will flourish (Psalm 92:13). Avoid businesses and crowded schedules that keep you away from the church. Don’t be here and there. Don’t be busy here and there as the prophet said in 1Kings 20:40 such that you don’t have time for God. You’ll sooner or later discover your utmost need for Him and discover that you’ve gone too far away from him. The church equips us to walk with God.

Busyness is not the same thing as a business! Don’t crowd God out of your life. Not going to church on Sundays regularly is a manifestation of a sick life. Are you wiser than God who said the Sabbath day should be kept holy? It used to be observed sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday in the Old Testament but after the resurrection of Jesus Christ believers began to observe it on Sundays.

The Sunday Sabbath is just one of the Sabbaths a child of God ought to observe. Your life, home, business, etc. cannot be healthy if you keep violating God’s instruction on the Sabbath. Keep the Sunday Sabbath holy; go to church to worship with other believers. Someone has rightly said,   “Seven days without a Sabbath makes one weak.”  Another person also made a similar statement: “Seven days without God makes one weak.”  You’re going to be a weak Christian if you don’t observe the Sunday Sabbath or fellowship with God. Be planted in a living church where your life, home, family, destiny, business, etc. will receive a constant flow of the river of the Spirit; that is how to flourish.

7. Live a life of faith. The righteous will live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4 NIV). You need faith to walk with God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). God is spirit; you can’t see Him with your physical eyes (John 4:24). You can only walk with Him by faith, and you can only please Him by faith. Abraham, the friend of God walked with Him by faith, all of those mentioned in Hebrews 11 walked with Him by faith and that is the only way to walk with Him. Paul explains it thus: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV).

8. Look away from the crowd or the people. Though we need each other and one another as I’ve said before, this truth must be balanced. In your walk with God, don’t let what others do or don’t do influence you negatively. You’re responsible for your actions. You’ll also ultimately bear the consequences of your action.

Romans 14:12 says everyone shall give an account of himself to God. People can help your walk and they can sometimes hinder your walk. The latter is not an excuse not to walk with God. Joshua and Caleb walked with God wholeheartedly despite the choice of the other ten spies to live a life of unbelief. They had another spirit, a different spirit from others (Numbers 14:24). That is why they brought back a good report; they didn’t see themselves as grasshoppers like the rest but said they were well able to possess the land.

Noah walked with God in spite of the wickedness of the people of his days (Genesis 6:8-12). Hear Paul’s expression of his single-mindedness: “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man” (Galatians 1:15-16 NIV).

9. Submit to the spiritual leadership God has placed over you. Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1 NIV). Godly leadership can help you to develop a personal walk with God as Paul did in the scripture you’ve just read.

Submit to the instructions of leaders meant to make you live a life that pleases the Lord. He says again in Colossians 2:6-7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (NIV). Walk in the truth that you’ve been taught (3 John 4).

But you must understand that leaders are human beings, and not God. The failure of a leader either in his leadership style or morally should not stop you from following the Lord. The best you can do is to stop following him but keep following the Lord. Don’t go to hellfire over the failure of a leader that may later amend his way with the Lord while you continue to hold against him whatever wrong he has committed. No one is perfect including you and the leader. You may not forgive him but God will. The truth is the devil is after the failure of leaders more than that of their followers. That is not to excuse any leader’s moral failure. 

Paul says, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Philippians 3:17-19 NIV). Follow only leaders with godly lifestyle; move away from ungodly examples, leaders who habitually live in sin – that is what Paul is saying here.

10. Don’t be complacent. If you’ll walk with the Lord, you must always forget the past and move forward. Don’t be too impressed by your spiritual exploits! Paul, after several years of walking with the Lord, was still not impressed about his own record of performance, the sacrifice, etc. He said he had not achieved anything but was pressing forward. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:10-16 NIV).

Keep moving ahead walking with God. Don’t get carried away by whatever spiritual experience you have had. Today’s experience will be inferior to what God wants to show you tomorrow. Don’t have a sense of arrival. It is not yet time to retire. Until the rapture, you must keep yourself in constant fellowship with God. To relax is to begin to backslide. Don’t forget it was 24 years after Abraham left Haran in obedience to God’s call that he told him “…I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1 NIV). Our walk with God is a continuous one.

God did not put us here on earth to live our lives independent of Him. He created you and me for fellowship. He wants us to walk with Him. Do not see God just as a problem solver you run to only when you have a problem. Come into intimate fellowship with Him today. It shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
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Website: www.cedarministry.org