In becoming a Christian, you have just made the most important decision you’ll ever make. As you begin this new life with Christ, no doubt you have many questions. And it’s likely that you’re not exactly sure what to do next!
This booklet was prepared by those who have been where you are now. We understand what you’re experiencing and we want to help guide you through your first month as a Christian. Within these pages you’ll find helpful information on a variety of subjects relevant to the needs of the newborn believer.
Since God does not require us to be theologians before we can become Christians, you may not fully comprehend what has happened in your life. Before you came to the Lord, you were a sinner. A sentence of death hung over your head. If you had died in that state, you would have ended in Hell, the eternal abode of the wicked. But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, lived as a man, and then took your sins upon Himself and died in your place on the Cross. Through this sacrifice and His subsequent resurrection from the dead, the promise of eternal life was made available to you.
To accept this offer, you had to surrender your life to Christ. When you turned your back on the sins of the past, Christ rewarded your sorrow for such actions with complete forgiveness. A radical change took place in your nature. Now the desires for the sinful pleasures of this world are gone and in their place is a hunger for more of God.
God is eager to lead you deeper and to satisfy your hunger for spiritual things. As you follow Him, you will soon discover that being a committed Christian is to live the most fulfilling life possible.
It is vital that you communicate with God on a regular basis. This will include establishing daily quiet times where you can be alone with Him. Plan to start and end each day by talking to God and letting Him talk to you.
Why are these quiet times, or devotions, so critical? If you have a close friend, it’s because you make an effort to stay in touch with one another. You know that if you don’t, in time you’ll drift apart. The same goes for your relationship with Jesus Christ. And since your eternal destiny hinges on your connection to Him, you need to make sure you never drift away from Him. Almost without exception, those who have turned back to the world will point first to having let their devotional life wane and die. So establish a consistent pattern of daily devotions right away!
First of all, if you don’t have a Bible, you need to obtain one as soon as possible. We recommend a Bible with a concordance. The Bible is the Word of God and it will form a critical part of your spiritual nourishment. You will find this booklet useful as a basis for your first month’s quiet times. Look up the verses given and prayerfully read them, asking God to help you understand His message for you. When you finish, get down on your knees and pray. God is deeply interested in everything that concerns you, so open up to Him daily and communicate freely with Him.
As you work your way through these pages, you will cover a lot of ground. Take time to meditate on the subjects addressed. If you have further questions on a particular subject, ask your minister, another Christian, or write to us and we will do whatever we can to help you.
If you use this guide during your morning devotions, you may want to begin reading the New Testament for your evening quiet times. Follow your reading with prayer and praise to God for having been with you during the day. You will come to deeply treasure these special times with the Lord.
In the months to come, use the admonitions in this booklet to occasionally check up on yourself. Then as you determine to stay close to Christ, He will keep you until the day He calls you home!
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. –James 5:16
Prayer is communication with God. How important is it? It is as important to your spiritual life as breathing is to your physical life. While breathing is an involuntary process, prayer is something you must put effort into. Satan will try to keep you from praying. He’ll make you tired, he’ll distract you, and he’ll tell you it isn’t that necessary. But it is necessary!
So how do you go about talking to God? Whenever possible, pray out loud. This helps you avoid distractions and reminds you that you are conversing with a real individual. Be respectful, but don’t be afraid to unburden your deepest feelings. Thank Him for what He has done in your life. Ask Him to lead you and help you listen to what He has to say. Let Him know that in making your requests, you want only His perfect will. Pray for those you know who need salvation or have other pressing needs. Again, praise God for answering prayer and fulfilling His Word.
As you grow in the Lord, you will see the benefit of staying in close contact with Him throughout your day. You will realize that even though you cannot see or hear Him with your physical senses, He is just as real as anyone you’ve ever known. And you will see that He answers your prayers in miraculous ways!
Matthew 6:5-13; John 15:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:17,18; 1 John 5:14,15
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. –1 Peter 5:8
Yes, you’ve been set free. You’re on a dead run toward Heaven. But that doesn’t mean your enemy has given up hope of tracking you down. Not by any means! Satan knows that every step you take toward Jesus makes it just that much harder for him to catch up to you. He wants you back, and you can be sure he is working overtime trying to accomplish his goal.
Peter warns us here to be sober and vigilant. To be sober means to keep a cool head. Don’t make any snap decisions. If you’re faced with a difficult situation, stop and pray about it before you make a move. Then be vigilant. Do you sense that roaring lion nearby? Is this situation drawing you toward God or away from Him? Does it seem like something the enemy has devised to trap you? Watch out for his tactics. Be aware that he will stop at nothing in his attempts to overtake and devour you.
Remember, Jesus is vitally interested in seeing you safely through this world into the next. When you sense that Satan is gaining on you, call out to the Lord! Determine you are not going to slacken your pace or turn back. Learn to leave the lion in your dust.
1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7; Jude 24,25
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. –1 Corinthians 2:9
People will sometimes deride Christians because of their hope in an afterlife. They’ll say, “Heaven is a myth! Why don’t you give up this religious stuff and just enjoy yourself?” What they don’t understand is that there is no more satisfying way to live than as a true Christian. So even if there were no life beyond this, it would make sense to follow Christ. But we know that the same Jesus Christ who has given us this wonderful life here has also promised more to come. And since He has fully delivered on His promises in this life, we are sure that the promise of Heaven will also be fulfilled.
Through the ages, countless thousands have entered Heaven by the door of death. But the believers of our day may have the opportunity to leave this world without dying! How? Prophecies in the Bible let us know that very soon the Rapture of the Church will take place. In an instant of time, the true believers will rise with glorified bodies to meet the Lord in the air. Unbelievable? The Christian who has proved the promises of the Bible true has no trouble believing it. Those who refuse to believe will be left to read about it in the newspapers. So be ready and watching!
John 14:2,3; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-6; Revelation 21 and 22
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? –2 Corinthians 6:14
As a Christian, you have a dual purpose. Your first priority is to make Heaven your eternal home. The second is to encourage others to do the same. People will attempt to hinder you on both counts. They will try to get you off the road to Heaven. And they won’t respond to your witnessing like you wish they would.
So what does this have to do with your old friends? Everything! Yes, you desperately want your former associates to become Christians. But the problem is that spending time with them can bring strong temptations your way. How can you reconcile this conflict? Take a stand! Make it clear to your friends that you are a Christian, that your life has changed, and that you aren’t going to be doing anything that would make you unfit for Heaven. If they respect your decision, great! Pray the Lord will use you in His way to reach them. But if they persecute or desert you, or entice you to sin, back off. Pray for them, but be very careful about putting yourself in situations that might induce you to ruin your testimony. That, after all, will work against both purposes.
Amos 3:3; 1 Corinthians 10:20,21; 2 Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 5:11,12; 1 Peter 4:3-5
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. –Proverbs 3:6
Life is a series of decisions. You face making choices on everything from what you’re going to have for breakfast to deciding who you’re going to marry. How can you know you’re making the right decisions?
It may not really matter whether you have eggs or cereal today. But other day-to-day decisions can have far-reaching effects, especially when it comes to major issues like marriage, career, or where you’re going to live. What you need is someone who knows everything about you and your needs, who fully comprehends the situation at hand, and who can see far into the future. You need God!
But does He really care about the details of your life? You can be sure He does! He will give you as much direction as you’re willing to follow. And here’s where the problems develop. Many Christians fail to follow God’s perfect will for their lives because they don’t ask Him, or because they aren’t willing, or are too impatient to let Him lead. Think about these three areas. You need to ask, you need to be willing, and you need to be patient. If there is a doubt in your mind about a certain decision, sit tight! Give God the benefit of the doubt and wait until He makes it clear which direction you should take. Remember, God is never confused and He is never late!
Psalm 32:8; 48:14; 73:24; Isaiah 58:11; Romans 12:2; James 4:13-15
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. –Hebrews 10:25
You’re up against a hard place. Satan is screaming in your ear to give up and turn back to sin. You don’t want to do that, but you’re alone and you can feel your resolve weakening. You breathe a prayer, and then something tells you to get in touch with another Christian. As you pick up the phone, Satan taunts you with, “What’s the matter? Can’t stand on your own? Don’t make that call, but figure this one out by yourself.”
Make the call! Let a fellow Christian know that you need support. There is strength in numbers, and Satan knows that. If he can get you isolated, his chances are that much better. Even the great reformer of the Middle Ages, Martin Luther, said that he had his worst temptations when he was alone. He had learned the value of fellowship with other like-minded believers.
Some may think that they can worship God on their own and don’t need to attend church. But that’s not what the Bible says! As Christians, we are the body of Christ. And that body is a united whole, not a scattered bunch of parts! So take advantage of the privilege of being part of this body. Not only will you receive strength and encouragement, but you will be able to offer the same to others.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:23; 4:14-16
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. –1 Peter 1:7
“Since you were tempted to do that, you’ve sinned and severed your relationship with God.” Has Satan hit you with that old line yet? When he does, send him packing by telling him you’re not interested in his lies. Temptation is not sin. Giving in to temptation is sin. What you are facing is a trial of your faith.
Trials bring you face to face with all kinds of temptations, and they are not easy to endure. But if you keep your eyes on the Lord and determine to lean on Him instead of giving in to Satan, you will triumph. Your faith will be strengthened. And you will be better prepared to face future trials.
When difficult places come your way, it’s natural to want to avoid the heat at any cost. But remember that what may appear to be the easy way out of the problem isn’t always the right way. When you’re tempted, the path of least resistance is to give in. And when God is trying to teach you something, it’s easy to want to take the situation into your own hands and miss the benefit you would have gained. So when the clouds roll in, pray! Ask God to keep you from sin and to teach you what you need to learn. Then grab hold of His hand even tighter and hang on! He will see you through.
Hebrews 12:5-11; James 1:12-15; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-19
If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.–Matthew 6:14,15
You’re sure one of your friends slighted you. Or maybe your father beat you. From minor irritations to physical abuse, everyone faces circumstances that require forgiveness. And each situation demands a new decision.
The sly enemy of your soul would delight in helping you hold a grudge. Why? Because he knows that your receiving forgiveness depends on your forgiving others. God forgave you when He saved you, and you’ll continue needing His forgiveness for unwise decisions, inappropriate words, and other mistakes. In turn, God expects you to forgive those who hurt you.
Is this easy? Hardly! The natural reaction is to want to hurt back. Or perhaps someone hurt you so deeply that forgiveness seems impossible. Then how do you get a forgiving heart? You may have to pray earnestly for God to give you a spirit of forgiveness. And sometimes more prayers must be prayed to keep that forgiving spirit.
But remember it’s worth it. Forgiving will release you from the bitterness Satan would bind around your heart. And eventually, forgiving will help you gain eternal life. Make the enemy’s tool of bitterness worthless by seeking God for a forgiving heart.
Matthew 18:21,22,35; Mark 11:25,26; Luke 23:34
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. –Psalm 101:3
If you looked out your window and saw a garbage truck about to empty its load on your front lawn, you’d be out your door in a hurry. You’d make it clear to the driver that his garbage wasn’t welcome in your yard.
Satan has acres of garbage he wants to bury you with. If he can get you to accept a load, he knows that he’ll have gained a foothold in your life. Since his goal is your total spiritual overthrow, you must make an effort to move decisively when his truck comes around.
What are we talking about? Your eyes, ears, and thoughts are Satan’s targets. He will daily tempt you to look at or read things that are at odds with holiness. He’ll try to pour music or conversations into your ears that will draw you away from God and toward the world. He’ll attempt to direct your thoughts onto any number of subjects that he knows will grieve the Holy Spirit and please the flesh. So determine that you aren’t going to be defiled by the devil’s garbage. And if you have some doubt as to whether something is garbage or not, don’t take a chance—stay away from it. Pray that you’ll be sensitive to what is good and what is harmful.
Be aware that it’s all too easy to get desensitized to a little filth, and before long you’ll be taking in more and more. Draw the line for holiness in your life and maintain it!
Psalm 119:37; Isaiah 33:15; Matthew 5:29; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:16
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. –Isaiah 41:10
Fear is a merciless tyrant, and it probably won’t stop stalking you just because you’ve given your life to God. But remember, you’re on the winning side now! And God has the weapons you need in order to come away victorious from a tussle with this enemy.
So . . . how do you go about grappling with fear? Well, start out by asking God for courage. He won’t fail to provide it. Psalm 138:3 says that when we ask the Lord, He gives us strength. Look in your concordance for other Bible verses dealing with courage or trust. Choose a favorite, write it down, and put it where you’ll see it often. You’ll find that His promises put steel in your backbone! Try getting in touch with a Christian friend and explaining what you’re facing. Ask that friend to pray with you and for you. Take note of the successes God gives in the battle, and thank Him for them.
God does not always deliver us the instant a problem or trial comes our way. Sometimes struggle is good for us—how else would we build spiritual muscle? So don’t fear the fight, but remember that God promises to be with us, strengthen, and protect us. If Satan can make you so afraid that you lay your weapons down and run, he wins. Don’t let him do it!
Psalm 56:3; Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27
For we walk by faith, not by sight. –2 Corinthians 5:7
When you are first saved, the thrill of being set free has you walking on air. But before long, your feet touch down on earth again. You may find yourself saying, “What’s this? Am I not a Christian anymore? Did I do something wrong? Maybe it wasn’t real. Maybe I just got excited over nothing. What do I do now?” What you do now is learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
Yes, it would be wonderful if you could always live on the mountaintop with no cares or concerns, only constant joy. But between now and the day you step into Heaven, you’ll have some valleys to travel through. And in those valleys, through the storms and darkness, you’ll learn your most precious lessons. You’ll learn that Jesus is always there, even when you’re surrounded by thick fog and it seems you’ve been forsaken. As you pass through each valley you’ll gain strength that a life on the mountaintops could never give you.
So don’t be fearful when the feelings are gone for a time. God is testing you. God is strengthening you. Don’t give in to even the slightest doubt, for if you do, it will grow and threaten to overwhelm you. Learn to say, “God, I am willing to trust You and Your care for me, even when I cannot feel or see any evidence of Your presence.” He will never let you down.
2 Kings 6:14-17; Psalm 23; 56:3; Matthew 14:25-31; Hebrews 11:1
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. –2 Corinthians 6:17
Many professing Christians have tried to hold the Lord with one hand and the world with the other. But it just won’t work. You can’t dress like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, and do everything the world does and still be a true Christian. No, to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to renounce the world and take up the banner of a revolutionary way of living totally opposed to the wickedness that surrounds you.
If you’re thinking that this doesn’t sound easy, you’re right. While the Lord will give you power to live a holy life in this world, you have to guard against the temptation to compromise. You have to decide that your priority is to fit into Heaven’s society. When people fault you or pressure you to loosen up and do what everyone else is doing, remember the Christian way is nothing to be ashamed of. You have chosen the high road of holiness, integrity, selflessness, virtue, love, and peace. So even if it isn’t always easy, at least you know you’re on the right road.
As you stand out from the crowd, there will be two positive results. You will be a light to the lost who are looking for a better way, and you will be pleasing to God. So rise to the challenge and fly your colors for the Lord!
John 17:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 5:11,12
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. –John 10:27
For most of your life, it hasn’t been a problem knowing who was talking to you. Generally you had a face to look at, and even when you didn’t, the important voices in your life were easily recognizable.
Then you became a Christian. Now there are two very important voices in your life. But you can’t see faces for either of them, and you may find you have a hard time distinguishing their voices. Especially because one of them often tries to make you think he’s the other one. So who’s talking to you, God or Satan?
Don’t despair! It is possible to discern which voice is which, even when Satan is imitating God. First of all, God will never tell you to do something contrary to His Word. So if you’re unsure, pick up your Bible. Then, consider the results of following the voice. Does the suggested course of action draw you toward holiness? Will it enhance or detract from your service and relationship to God? Does it tend toward self-denial or self-indulgence?
Consider also the tone of the voice. Satan’s voice can get very irritating. He pushes and prods, he repeats himself, and sometimes resorts to intimidation and even shouting. But God uses a quiet voice. He doesn’t hammer on His point or engage in arguments. He leads His own with a firm but gentle voice of love. And no one who follows that voice will ever be led astray!
John 8:44; 10:1-15; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 4:1
Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.–Psalm 27:11
Panic time! You’re faced with a situation and you don’t know what to do. Where can you get help?
The first place to look is in the Bible. God has promised that His Word would be a light to our path. But maybe you can’t find a verse to help you. Then what? Seek the aid of a spiritual person. Ministers are a prime source of help because their responsibility is to guide God’s people. Perhaps your Sunday school teacher can assist, or look around for people who show they walk close to God. Tap into their experience and spiritual maturity.
Sometimes God sends direction and help through a church service. Maybe the sermon addresses your need, or the verse of a song gives an answer. Someone may testify of going through a similar experience. Gospel literature can also be a help. Read the tracts and magazines printed by this church.
Just a word of caution. Be sure the person you talk with or what you read is doctrinally correct. If you seek guidance from a source which twists the meaning of the Bible, you could be confused.
God has not started you on the path to Heaven just to leave you without direction. Pray for help and read God’s Word. Then look for His guidance.
Psalm 37:37; 48:14; 119:105; Philippians 1:6
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. –1 Thessalonians 5:18
Yes, it’s right there in black and white. In every thing give thanks. We don’t find any license in the Bible to pick and choose which circumstances of life we’ll thank God for! The experiences which come our way are not apples in a basket that we can sort through and say, “This is good. I will praise God for this, but not for that.” And let’s take it one step further. The writer of this verse in Thessalonians isn’t saying that when the trial ends, we give thanks. No, it’s to happen right while the heat is on. No waiting till we know the outcome!
But don’t throw up your hands and say, “That’s impossible!” Remember, you’ve placed your trust in the Almighty. And as a child of God, nothing comes into your life by accident. Think about the words in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” When you recognize the scope of that word all, you’ll begin to see possibilities for praise in every situation. Trials? God can use them to teach you to lean on Him. Grief? It can give you new sympathy for others who hurt. Stress? God may want you to learn that when life is full of pressure, His strength is available.
What makes any experience valuable is what God is able to do through it. So thank God in the good times, and thank Him when trouble comes. There’s power in praise!
Psalm 34:1; 35:28; Hebrews 13:15
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. –Acts 24:16
There’s nothing like the feeling of knowing that your sins are forgiven. You rejoice in the realization that if you were to die today, you could face God in peace. But what about facing your fellow man? What about those you’ve injured in some way? Do you have any responsibility to make right the wrongs of the past?
Yes, God expects you to go back over your life and make restitution in every case you can. “What? You mean I have to take back that wrench I ‘borrowed’ from a neighbor years ago? You mean I have to write a check for that window I shot a hole through? Surely I don’t have to go back to my old boss and tell him I put down more hours than I actually worked! And tell my current employer that I stole a telephone from him before I was saved? He’ll fire me!” Do you want to go to Heaven? Then do as God leads in this area.
What kind of a testimony would it be to a sinner if you said that God has made you an honest person now, but no, you aren’t going to pay back the money you stole from him? He’d call you a hypocrite, and who could blame him? How much better it is to go to him and give him the money as you tell him how the Lord saved you. Not only is your conscience clear, but you have also given him a powerful witness of Christianity.
Leviticus 6:2-5; Ezekiel 33:14,15; Matthew 5:23,24; Luke 19:8
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. –Psalm 31:24
Let’s face it, you’re going to have some bad days. It happens! So how can you stay on top when discouragement sets in and the going gets rough? Fortunately, God didn’t leave you without an answer. In fact, He gave us the answer sixteen times in the Bible. Check it out—the statement, “Be of good courage” appears sixteen times! Apparently God wants to impress you with the message, Don’t let discouragement overcome you!
But let’s get down to specifics. If we’re discouraged, we need to do something active to encourage ourselves. We can start by asking for God’s help. We can move on by praising Him for loving us. We can say, “Thank You, Lord” because He has promised to work out all things for our good. We have to believe that He can and will help us overcome.
Try getting out a concordance and finding the places where the phrase, “Be of good courage,” occurs. Sing a favorite hymn. Preach a strong sermon to yourself on the subject of courage. Make a deliberate, out-loud statement that you will not be discouraged, and immediately thank the Lord for some blessing. Imagine that you see Christ praying for you in Heaven—He is, you know. See Hebrews 7:25.
So, if you find yourself in one of those times of discouragement, don’t stay there. God is holding out His hand. Grab hold and He’ll help you!
Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:13; 1 Peter 5:7
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. –1 Peter 2:2
A healthy newborn baby is hungry, and so is a healthy newborn Christian. It is as automatic for a new Christian to desire more of God as it is for a new baby to desire milk. And God will satisfy that hunger. Each day you’ll have new learning experiences which will help you know more how to live as a Christian.
Besides the daily lessons, God has two more definite experiences for you. Together with salvation, these make the foundation for your Christian life. When God saved you, He forgave all the sins you had committed. And He’s been helping you live victoriously.
The next experience is called sanctification. Because Adam and Eve sinned, everyone was born with a sinful nature. When God sanctifies you, He covers your heart again with Jesus’ blood, and takes out that sinful nature. He makes your heart holy and clean. Then your heart is ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. When you receive this experience, the Holy Spirit comes to live in you. He gives you power to witness to others, and teaches, guides, and comforts you.
With these three experiences, you have the tools to serve God and resist Satan more effectively. Keep desiring more of God. Pray that He will make you a hungry newborn. Then He will satisfy that hunger.
John 14:26; 17:15-17; Hebrews 13:12; Acts 1:8
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. –1 Corinthians 1:18
We live in a world where mankind’s ability to reason has been exalted to the skies. This century has seen a phenomenal expansion of man’s achievements in the various sciences. Along with these advances has come a massive shift in moral values. Due to these changes, Christianity has been labeled as outdated and a hindrance to mankind’s progress. Believers are scorned for their “blind faith” and conservative viewpoints.
Now if all the problems that have plagued mankind were only something we read about in history books, one could argue for the supremacy of reason. But pick up a newspaper and you’ll readily see that this world is in worse shape than it’s ever been. People will say, “Man will get it all together yet!” Think so? Dream on!
The Christian alone is standing on a firm foundation—one that was laid by no less than the Creator of the universe. Yes, we believe in a God we cannot see. Yes, we follow the words of a Book that is thousands of years old. And yes, we believe in miracles. We’ve seen ruined lives reclaimed, broken homes put back together, drug addicts instantly delivered, and cancers healed. How? Through reason? No, through faith in God! So let reason take its proper place and don’t make any apologies for your faith in the living God.
Romans 3:3,4; 2 Timothy 3:7-9; Hebrews 10:38; 11:1,3,6
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. –John 13:35
Remember how you felt God’s love when He saved you? Along with feeling God’s love toward you, you felt love for others. Extending that love is part of your Christian calling. But how do you extend love?
Often small actions show God’s love the best. Maybe a friend is troubled and needs a good listener. Or you may know an older person who would appreciate a ride to the store or a sick friend who is in need of a meal. Making friends with a new person in your class at school can show love, and certainly a smile can help a discouraged acquaintance.
Your associates will see God’s love in how you act at school or on the job. Are you reliable? Do you arrive on time? Are you honest and patient? Do you try to be thoughtful of others? While these things may seem unrelated, they help others notice God in you.
Your family also watches your life. They see the change salvation makes in how you live and respond to them. A husband or wife sees God’s love in an unselfish companion. Children see it in consistent concern. And parents see it in obedient children.
Showing God’s love takes practice. The more you do it, the more you’ll notice opportunities to do it again. And it becomes easier as you work at it. Every day we have the chance to show God’s love to someone. So look around and watch for the small opportunities.
John 15:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Peter 1:22
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. –Philippians 1:6
You do something and feel instantly that it wasn’t right. The Lord brings you up short and you know He is not pleased. But the devil carries it further. He shouts in your ears, “Give up! Look what you’ve done. You can’t be a victorious Christian. You might just as well quit now!” Don’t listen!
Remember the devil is out to send you to Hell. If he can make you quit trying because you did something you shouldn’t have done, then he’s won a great victory. However, the Lord wants you to go to Heaven. He is a God of mercy and He deals with each of us individually. He looks at your heart and sees if your motives are right. He knows if you have an honest purpose to serve Him. He also knows when you’re giving it your best effort, and He will prod you if you aren’t.
It’s important to go before the Lord with an honest heart and ask Him to forgive you. Tell Him you want to make sure your relationship with Him is in order.
Since we are God’s children, as our Father, He will correct and chastise us. Endeavor to be sensitive to the checks that indicate you have grieved Him. Then be quick to heed His correction and ask for His help to do better next time. He’s a patient Father and rejoices over every victory you win.
Psalm 138:8; Philippians 4:13; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1; Jude 24
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
Over and over they play on the movie screen of your mind. The failures. The experiences you wish you could forget. The dark moments of your past that now fill you with shame. How can you get free of yesterday’s tyranny over today? How can you forgive yourself for what you’ve done?
First of all, realize that Satan loves to play home-video projectionist for the Christian. He delights in bringing up the past in hope that he can draw us back to the darkness we left behind. And sometimes we play into his hands by passing him another video and saying, “Yeah, that was pretty bad. Let’s look at this one now . . .” Forget it! When he comes around wanting to bring up the past, hand him the video that shows you turning your life over to God—then leave the room!
When the Blood of Jesus cleansed you of your sins, your record was completely cleared. You can be sure that it isn’t God who haunts your mind with the failures of the past. So resist thinking about things that can’t be changed and concentrate instead on making your actions today pleasing to the Lord.
Psalm 103:10-12; Micah 7:18,19; Hebrews 10:17
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. –Hebrews 11:10
Abraham is one of the central figures in Old Testament history. Because of his example of complete trust and confidence in God, he is referred to as the father of faith. We would all do well to emulate him.
He was a wealthy man, yet he differed greatly from the majority of the rich men of our day. How? He was not attached to his riches. And he didn’t look at this world as his home. He considered himself a traveler on this earth, not a resident.
Very likely you were raised with the expectation of making this world your home. But in becoming a Christian, a new understanding is dawning. You realize that you have a never-dying soul that wants to end up in Heaven. One thing that will help you attain this goal is to begin thinking of Heaven as your home. As you do this, your decisions will be based on this conviction. You won’t want to do anything that would hinder you from getting there. You won’t allow yourself to get so attached to material things that your view of Heaven grows dim. You’ll want to stay in touch with Heaven daily so you’ll be known when you arrive. And you’ll be encouraging others to go there too.
In the meantime, you’ll have to make the best of it here. Attend faithfully to what needs attention, but live with a longing for Heaven!
Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:2; 1 Timothy 6:7-11; Hebrews 11:8-10,13-16; 1 John 2:15
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
God’s government has two distinctive hallmarks. One is that despite the vain boasts of man, justice will be served on this depraved world. God is a God of judgment. The other is that abundant and undeserved mercy is available to fallen man. God is a God of mercy.
Because of mercy, you have found salvation from your sins. Where once you faced certain judgment and eternal death, you now have the hope of eternal life. Thank God for mercy!
But don’t forget judgment. Yes, when you are weak, if you fall, there is mercy available when you humbly apply to God for it. He will certainly restore you in such times. But should you presume upon His mercy and begin to stubbornly live a life contrary to His Word, you are in danger of leaving the realm of mercy and entering the dark halls of judgment.
Some have tried to convince themselves that God’s mercy and grace cover anything and everything, no matter what the attitude of the failing believer is. Judgment is thrown out the door along with the Scriptures that promise it. No, we need to strive to walk humbly before God, always thankful for His mercy, but never taking advantage of it. With this kind of attitude, we will know first hand the meaning of the words, “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
Psalm 89:14; Ephesians 2:4,5; Hebrews 9:27,28
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. –Matthew 16:24
We live in a world where self-indulgence is an accepted attitude. While people may admire one who lives for others, they rarely follow the example, preferring rather to be part of the me generation.
Sadly, this attitude has even crept into the churches. God is styled as a doting father waiting to pour health and wealth on His self-centered followers. This is not the Christianity of the Bible. Jesus Christ plainly called His disciples to a life of self-denial and service to others. He knew the tendencies of the human heart were to selfishness. So He pointed those who followed Him to a cross that they were to bear.
And what is this cross? The cross is an instrument of death. In your life, it is to be the means of crucifying self so that Christ might reign supreme in your heart. Once He is enthroned there, He can work through you in marvelous ways. You will be a channel of compassion to a world that is hurting. You will show the way of life to those who are headed for eternal death. And you will know the supreme joy known only to those who have laid their lives down for the Lord.
For this to happen, you must decide that you will take up your cross daily. Will it be easy? No, the death of self is never a painless process. But be assured that you will never regret having done so.
Matthew 10:38-42; Philippians 2:4-8; 1 John 3:14-23
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. –Ephesians 6:12
Did you realize that in choosing to serve the Lord you were in for a battle? Satan’s not happy about your decision to follow Christ. His formidable spiritual forces are daily arrayed against you, hoping to regain their master’s lost subject.
And the fighting can be intense! The devil knows an inexperienced soldier is easier to defeat than the seasoned warrior. He will put thoughts in your mind and then accuse you of sin for thinking them. He will try to make the old life attractive. He will stop at nothing in trying to trip you up. But fear not, if you’re determined to have victory, God will be there to see you through!
One danger to be aware of is that by nature, we shrink from conflict. Even those who enjoy an occasional skirmish grow weary of extended combat. We need to realize that the Christian walk is always going to be a battle. The intensity may vary from day to day, but as long as we continue to press toward Heaven we will meet with resistance. So settle it in your mind that you’ll rise to the challenge and fight on until the Captain says it’s time to lay your weapons down and head for home!
2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Timothy 1:18,19; 6:12
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. –John 8:12
Picture yourself on a trip to an incredibly beautiful land. Between you and your goal lies a treacherous journey filled with snares, confusing side roads, and vicious bandits. Given a choice, would you rather travel this road in darkness or in light?
Of course you would want as much light as possible! Well, your trip to Heaven follows just this type of road. Thankfully, Jesus is there to be your Light and your Guide. But it’s vitally important that you don’t run ahead or lag behind Him. If you do, you’ll find yourself traveling in dim light without protection and guidance.
How can you be sure you’re walking in the light? Stay close to Jesus through prayer and the reading of His Word. Fellowship often with others who are traveling in the light. As you learn more about what it means to be a Christian, and mature spiritually, the Lord will require more of you. Be quick to obey. If you think you know better than God, you’ll find yourself running ahead into darkness. And if you fail to do the things that have been revealed to you, you’ll lag behind the light. How much better it is to stay in step with the Giver of light and avoid the pitfalls along the way!
Proverbs 4:18; John 12:35,36; 1 John 1:7
Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. –2 Peter 3:18
Have you ever watched a child stretch as he measures his height against a wall? Oh, how he struggles to be just a little taller! “How can I make myself grow?” he wonders. A wise adult would explain, “You can’t! Growing takes time. But here’s what you can do: eat good food, get plenty of exercise, and enjoy being a kid. You’ll grow up soon enough.”
As a new Christian, you might find yourself thinking along the same lines as that little child. How can you grow spiritually? Well the fact is, you can’t make yourself into a mature Christian overnight. As you do your best to follow God, He will take care of your growth. His Word promises, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Rest assured, when Christ is living in you, growth is happening. You may not be aware of it, but then, neither is a newborn baby. Yet look how quickly he develops!
Your part isn’t complicated. Just be sure that you don’t put up any barriers to God’s working in your life. Accept what each moment brings, good or not-so-good, as being just what He sees you need for growth at this moment. Nourish your spiritual man through Bible reading and communicating with God in prayer. And remember, you’re going to be a learner, one day at a time, for the rest of your life!
Psalm 92:12; 2 Peter 1:5-8
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. –Mark 16:15
As a new Christian, you’re eager to tell others what has happened in your life. You want them to know the same joy and peace that you’ve found in serving the Lord. But at first your zeal may get ahead of your knowledge. When people hit you with questions you don’t have answers for yet, you’ll find it’s easy to get in over your head.
First of all, never be afraid to say, “I don’t know. I’m just a new believer.” If they begin to ridicule you for your lack of knowledge or for any other reason, pull out your secret weapon. And what is that? Your personal experience. While people may refute your beliefs, they can’t dispute your testimony without calling you a liar. As you let them know how the Lord transformed your life, don’t be surprised if they end up speechless! Just as a credible witness carries significant weight in a court of law, your description of having passed from darkness into light will strongly affect others.
As you mature spiritually, it is critical that you add to your knowledge so that you will be an informed witness. Know why you believe what you believe, and be able to back up your beliefs with the Bible. An individual armed with the Word of God and a true born-again experience is a powerful tool in God’s hand for converting others. Determine to be a witness for your Savior!
Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 5:19,20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. –Romans 15:4
The first few weeks are behind you, and you’re off to a great start in your Christian life. But by now you realize there’s much more to learn. And the daily study of God’s Word is how you do it.
There are many approaches to studying your Bible. Try selecting a topic or theme and tracing it through the Bible. Analyze chapters or short books, summarizing the main points. Psalms and Proverbs lend themselves to paraphrases. You might enjoy delving into original meanings of key words. If you like biographies, research the lives of Bible heroes such as Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, or Paul. And do vary your methods.
Always pray before you read, asking God to help you see how the Scriptures you study apply to your life. Set aside a specific time each day for Bible study, in a place where distractions and interruptions will be minimal. Get a good study Bible with cross-references and a concordance. Ask a minister or Christian friend to recommend a Bible dictionary, commentary, or other books. Keep a record of special thoughts the Lord brings to mind that apply to your own life.
As you move along in this new adventure, remember that you want to know God, not just facts about Him. Put His words into your heart, and then obey and apply what you learn!
Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16