Welcome to the Christian life! You are now a member of God's family because by faith you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. This has brought you into a wonderful and fulfilling relationship with God who created you. Receiving Christ as your Savior begins an eternal relationship with God. It is much more than just going to heaven when you die. Salvation is a gateway that begins your new life. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
You must understand that you have been saved FROM sin.
Everyone in the family of God is a sinner saved by God's grace. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."(Ephesians 2:8-9)
There are many truths in the Bible that will greatly help you to live the life the Lord wants you too, which is the best you could possibly have.
BEING "BORN AGAIN"
A person who receives Christ as their Savior and receives eternal life begins as a new born baby in the Lord. Jesus told Nicodemus that to see the kingdom of God one must be "born again". (See John 3:1-19) This is called the "new birth", and means a person has become a new member of the family of God. You have much to learn about the Lord and now because you have received the new birth and been indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God you can learn about spiritual things of the Lord.
BEING INDWELL BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
What does it mean that you are "indwelled" by the Holy Spirit of God?
Jesus in Acts 1:5 told his disciples that within a short time they would receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit". He said, "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:5) Jesus told them this just before he returned to Heaven. In Acts 1:4, He said that they were to wait until they had received the Holy Spirit. In Old Testament times, those who believed in God did not permanently receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now however, the Lord was going to do something new. All believers would receive the Holy Spirit, who would be with them forever. In Acts 2:1 is the account of the disciples receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All Christians since that day have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus earlier had promised the disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit to guide them in their lives.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
Jesus also said, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13-14) The Holy Spirit is God, living within us. He, the Holy Spirit is God and is identified as the third member of the God Head, made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
NOW YOU ARE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE AND SPIRITUAL THINGS OF GOD
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit begins when a person believes in the Lord Jesus and is saved.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)
Paul further says, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19)
THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, He gives us the "new nature", which is the nature of God. We are now able to understand spiritual things because the Holy Spirit working in us helps us to do so.
THE OLD NATURE
Before a person is saved they do not have the nature of God. They only have what the Bible refers to as the "old" or "carnal" nature. That is why we sin. Our carnal nature is the nature of rebellion and rejection of God which is sin. It came when Adam and Eve yielded to Satan's temptation and sinned.
Because a person who has not received Christ only has the old carnal nature he can not please God. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7-8) Note what else Paul said, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12)
Sin is the reason things in the world are not as they should be. God intended that mankind would live a peaceful, satisfying and abundant life. However, because of the present of sin, man has not done what God intended and sin has cause all the grief and sorrow we see today.
Sin which is basically rebelling against God by not living as we should. Our loving Creator God wants the best for us. God's commandments are given to us so we would know what is best for us. It is the same thing that a loving parent does for their child. The parent instructs the child not to do certain things that are harmful and would hurt them. If the child rebels and does them they will be hurt. Sin, then is the destructive things which causes us harm.
One of the problems with sin is that it can give pleasure for a time. It is like the child who loves to play in the street. It is fun and because it is fun a child may run straight to the street each time it goes outside. But although it is fun to be there it is a deadly place to be. Many of the vices we are so familiar with such as smoking, drinking, dancing and gambling (to name only a few) do give pleasure. However, the pleasure distracts us from the fact of their deadly effects.
As a child of God the Bible says to put away the destructive things out of your life. Paul told the Colossians to "mortify", meaning "put to death", sin within our lives. (See Colossians 3:5-17) To the Romans he said, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:12-14)
THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK IN OUR LIVES
Because the believer is indwelled by the Spirit of God, we have the nature or desire to do as God wants which is best of us. We now have the ability to live as we should and as God intended. We can overcome sin and the temptation that comes from our old carnal nature. Because God lives within us we can conquer sin in our lives.
God's promise to the believer is that:
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It should give us great encouragement to know we can overcome sin in our lives. It is a lifelong process as opportunity to sin is always present. But be sure that as time goes by, you will by God’s, help overcome sins in your live. Each sin overcome, each temptation refused is but another step toward overcome it. It time as you mature by living for the Lord, these sins that may give you so much trouble now will brother you very little.
We should then look at each temptation that comes our way as but an opportunity to advance one more step toward a happier more fulfilling life. As we overcome each temptation as it comes we grow stronger and are better able to conquer it the next time it comes to mind.
HAVING A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF SALVATION
Having the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us understand the Truths of the Bible even helps us to better understand how we were saved. Few Christians begin their life in Christ knowing all the Bible teaches about Salvation. A person at first knows in their heart they are sinners and in faith they reach out to the Lord, trusting in His promise to save them.
As time goes on you will learn more about God, the Lord Jesus and salvation. The Bible says, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:9-10)
These verses tell us that the principles (truths) of God are learned in time through study. We learn one principle and that helps us to learn another one. All the truths of Scripture are tied together and the more we read and learn the better we will be able to understand each truth.
Having the Holy Spirit living within us gives the Christian a great deal of comfort. God is always with us and no matter what comes our way we know God, working through the Holy Spirit will guide us through it. (Read Romans 8:28)
A REVIEW OF THE THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT SALVATION
1. A person must realize he is a sinner.
Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Before a person is saved, he must first realize he is a sinner and needs to be saved. We are born into sin and must be "born again".
2. A person must realize without salvation he will go to hell.
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This death is not only physical death, but spiritual as well. The Bible says, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14.) Had you died before trusting the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you would have experienced the second death, which is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. But praise the Lord, you will now never have to worry about Hell again, because God has saved you and given you eternal life. God promises, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:15)"
3. A person must believe that Jesus died for them and rose again.
Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Do not forget that we as sinners were condemned, but Jesus was not! He is the Son of God who never sinned or could sin because He is God. He, God, came to this earth took our sins on Himself because we as sinners could not save ourselves. He died in our place and took our punishment. (See Isaiah 53, I Peter 2:24). He arose on the third day after letting death take Him, because He was God. (See I Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 5:18)
4. A person must confess Christ as Lord & Savior and receive Him into their hearts.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
This decision to be saved was not to join the church, be baptized or even change your way of living. It was asking Jesus Christ, by faith, to come into your heart and be your Lord and Saviour that saved you. Baptism and church membership follow receiving Christ as your Savior, and had no part in God forgiving you and giving you eternal life.
YOUR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
Now that you are saved, God wants you to have the assurance that your sins have all been forgiven. You are not saved when you get to heaven, but you are saved right now and for all eternity to come. John 3:36 says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life...." Hath, means right now and everlasting means forever and forever.
Jesus died for all your sins, even the ones you have not yet committed. Yet, some Christians who lack in spiritual growth do not have this blessed assurance. John 10:28 says, that as soon as you received Christ into your hearts you were given eternal life and shall never perish. 1 John 5:13 says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." As Titus 1:2 says, we can know we are saved because God said it and He cannot lie.
Do not base your salvation on how you feel. Feelings can change from day to day, but God`s word never changes (Matthew 24:35). A good feeling may be good, but it is not necessary to be saved. Did you know the Bible never says you must have a feeling when you get saved! You are saved because you have done what the Bible says and God has declared you as one of His children.
There are some things which might cause you to doubt and not have the assurance God wants you to have.
1. Always thinking about your past life can cause doubt. God has forgiven all your sins and has forgotten them. He also wants you to forget them. Forget the past! It is all under the atoning blood of Christ (Isa. l:18, Psalm 103:12).
2. Wondering if God really received you causes doubts. When you come to the Lord with a desire to be saved and asked Him to save you, you can be sure He did, because God, who cannot lie, has promised to. Just take Him at His word. John 6:37 says, "....him that cometh, to me I will in no wise cast out."
3. Basing your salvation upon feelings or emotion causes doubts.
Don't' forget - feelings change - but the Bible which is God eternal word never does. Read:
Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 5:l -- FAITH - Assures - NOT feelings.
4. Trust God: Live as He commands - you will have assurance.
a. 1 John 2:3. Do you really want to obey?
b. Rom. 7:15-25. A War is going on.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A CHILD OF GOD
Now that you are saved and have this assurance from the Word of God, God wants you to continue on in your Christian life. Remember that Ephesians 2:8, 9 tells you that you were saved "by grace through faith" and not by good works you have done or ever will do. After a person is saved, he becomes a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) and all things become new. You now have a desire to do what is right and the spiritual ability to live a godly life because you have God's Spirit or new nature. When we obey and allow the Holy Spirit to direct us we are being obedient to God's Word. Ephesians 5:18 tells the Christian "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Being filled with the Spirit means to allow Him to direct and be the guiding influence in our lives. As a new Christian you will want to do things that please the Lord. Let's look at several of the first things we need to do as a new Christian. We have responsibilities to the Lord.
BAPTISM AND CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Jesus gave the disciples some instructions just before He ascended back to heaven as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." The word "teach" in verse 19 means to disciple or win the lost to Christ. After a person is saved, the second thing he is instructed to do is be baptized (verse 19). Since the beginning of the first church, believers have given evidence of their faith in Christ by being baptized in water. We mean a person is to be immersed under the water as a picture or symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
In the Bible, baptism always comes after a person has been saved. Baptism does not save you or keep you saved. It is an act of obedience to Christ and pictures what has already taken place in your heart. It describes our union with Christ as seen in Romans 6:3-5. Every Christian should be baptized soon after receiving Christ as Savior. Have you been obedient to Christ and been baptized?
Baptism is done only by the local church. In Acts 2:41, we find that when a person was saved, he was baptized and joined the local church. This baptism identifies you with the local church. The church is God's place for Christians to be taught the Bible, to have fellowship with other Christians, and a place to pray and worship the Lord. Nothing can replace the church, not even Sunday morning T.V. or radio preaching. You need to be in church! You should immediately be baptized and join the local church after being saved. This is one of your first opportunities to obey the Lord and please Him. Don't miss it!!! Ask the pastor to explain to you exactly what you need to do in order to be baptized and join the church. Have you talked to the pastor about joining the church? Do it today!
Hebrews 10:25 tells us to be faithful in our church attendance. This means you should attend church every service. It is understandable that if a person is working or sick they cannot attend. However, unless you are providentially hindered you should attend church. Today, many church members ignore the Sunday night service and Bible Study. They feel content to attend only on Sunday Morning. Some ignore the Sunday school hour. Each service and meeting the church has is designed to help and aid the Christian in living abundant lives in Christ. Most pastors during the Sunday night service preach messages dealing with deeper spiritual truths than on Sunday morning. In the Sunday morning service there will be more visitors, and generally lost people in church. The messages are more evangelistic and the subject is generally on salvation. The Evening Service is attended by the faithful members of the church and the messages preached at helping them to grow in the Lord. Church members who only attend the Morning services miss a great opportunity to receive the deeper spiritual truths of the Bible. You see, faithful attendance will be a key to your Christian life and growth. You ought to be in church for Sunday school, the 11:00 AM Service, Sunday night, and Monday night. Support the special services also with your attendance, such as church fellowships. The last part of the Lord's instructions to the Disciples in Matt. 28 tells us to teach new converts the Word of God. This is done through the ministry of the local church in each of its meetings. Your pastor is faithful in being on duty, prepared to teach and preach God's Word to help you grow in Christ. Your privilege is to attend and avail yourself of the opportunity.
One note on preaching and teaching. Most pastors really pray and seek God's guidance in what to preach. They study really hard and spend a great deal of time in preparing their lessons and messages. It is estimated that most good pastors spend from four to six hours on each message. However, if church members are not there they do not hear what God has to say to them as a local church.
Most denominations today are losing members. Many believe that one important reason for this is that most of these churches have done away with Sunday night services and also Bible study and prayer meeting. The churches that are growing and winning people to Christ are the ones whose members are being faithful in attending all the services.
When you choose not to attend Sunday school, Sunday evening, Bible Study and prayer meeting you in fact are voting to discontinue them. You also are telling your neighbors and others in the church you do not think that these services are important. You miss the opportunity to show your love and dedication to the Lord, by faithfully supporting the total ministry of the church. To be sure, it takes time, effort and expense to attend all the services of the church. However, the benefit received will out weight any sacrifice on our part. One verse of Scripture that instructs how dedicated to Lord we should be is found in Romans 12:1-2.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Lord's Supper and baptism are the two ordinances of the church. The Lord's Supper is also only for the saved person. I Corinthians 11:23-26 tells us what it represents. The bread represents Christ's body and the grape juice represents His blood which was shed for us. This is a reminder of what Christ has done for us until He comes back. This is a serious time and should never be taken lightly.
GIVING TO THE LORD
l. Giving Yourself
Paul says in Romans 12:1, we should, ". . . present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The Lord wants YOU more than anything else you might give to Him.. Surrender yourself totally to Him and determine to follow Him and be obedient to Him. Let Him have control of your life.
2. Giving Your Praise and Thanksgiving.
Hebrews 13:15 tells us to offer to God our praise for all that He has done for us. We praise Him with our lips through prayer and telling others about what Christ has done for us.
3. Giving of our Money & Possessions.
2 Corinthians 9:7, tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. God told His people in the Old Testament to bring their tithes into God's storehouse. A tithe is 10% of what you earn or receive. God promised to bless those who titled in the Old Testament (Malachi 3). In the New Testament, his faithful consistent giving in cheerfulness is confirmed. 1 Corinthians 16:2 tells us to give every Sunday (first day of the week), to the local church (God's storehouse), as God has prospered. Stop right here and read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. Believe what God says about His blessing for you and then obey Him every Sunday. This also is another way of expressing to the Lord your love and thanks.
God wants you to grow spiritually and become a mature Christian. Many Christians have a real struggle with making the commitment to tithe and give offerings to the Lord. Christians who have been obedient understand the value of regular giving of the tithe and offerings to the Lord. Note that as you read 2 Cor. 9:7, it says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." You should make it a matter of prayer as to how much you are to give the Lord. Surely, it should be at least ten percent, as was required in the Old Testament. But you may want to give more. Remember what verse 6, says "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6) This is a matter between you and the Lord. A husband and wife should discuss the matter and prayer about it together. If a wife has a husband that is lost, and has no regular income, she should give from what she receives. The same applies to children who are saved. It is a good idea for the parent to instruct the child in Scriptural giving from their allowance or money they earn from chores. Remember, this is a matter between you and the Lord. It is a matter of exercising faith in the Lord to supply your needs. God has promised to meet your needs and to bless you materially when you faithfully give. Read Philippians 4:10-19.
David understood this principle and wrote, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25)
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:38)
The money you give to the church pays the utility bills, buys literature, maintains the building, supports missionaries and pays for the ministry of the church including the pastor’s financial support. When some of the members of the church do not tithe and regularly give, these material expenses of the church are neglected. A church will not have to pinch pennies, neglect missions, scrimp on purchasing literature or not properly support their pastor if all the members will tithe. God will supply the need but only through those who faithfully give and let themselves be used as a channel to carry out God's work in the local church.
YOU AND YOUR BIBLE
The Bible is God's Word to man. It reveals the plan of God for all of mankind. It reveals the nature of God, the sinfulness of man, the plan of salvation in Christ, the prospects of heaven for the saved, the doom of the unsaved in hell, guidelines for the Christian to follow in order to live and act as he should. It is God's word to US. It is the most important object we have on this earth. We are to love it, learn it, and then live by it.
HOW WE GOT THE BIBLE
God has communicated with man in many different ways. Men like Joseph of the Old Testament were spoken to through dreams. Daniel also had dreams from God. Men like Isaiah and Ezekiel had visions from the Lord. Normally in the Old Testament God spoke to people through His prophets; the preachers of that day.
But today, in New Testament times, God speaks only through His Word, the Bible. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God spoke in many different ways in the Old Testament, but has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, who is called in the Bible, THE WORD OF GOD. (SEE John 1:1 and Revelations 19:13) God no longer chooses to speak through dreams or visions, but through the Bible.
God used some 40 men over several hundred years to record His word. God supervised His writing through these men of God. Even though men are not perfect, God did not allow these men to make errors when recording His word for the generations to follow. The Holy Spirit directed these men. It was not just their ideas and thoughts. 2 Peter says in l: 21, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" Every word and every thought in the Bible is put there and approved by God Himself.
God has preserved His Word down through the years so we could have it to live by. The critics have tried to destroy it, but have failed. Matthew 24:35 says it will always stand, never to be done away with. God is the author of the Bible and He has given it to us.
IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE TO YOU
God puts great emphasis on His Word. In fact, the longest chapter in the whole Bible (Psalm 119), speaks entirely about the Bible and its place in our life. God wants to talk with us and teach us. He cannot do this unless we read His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is "inspired" of God and is profitable to us. This is called the doctrine of the "inspiration of Scripture". It means every word that the writer wrote down was exactly what God wanted written. This is also called the doctrine of "verbal plenary inspiration", or in other words every word was inspired of God and was without error.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:17)
l. BIBLE IS OUR FOOD
The Bible is spiritual food to the Christian and is absolutely necessary if you are to grow and develop into a strong and mature Christian. We must have physical food to live, but also must have spiritual food to stay healthy spiritually. A new believer is Christ is called in the Bible a spiritual babe. Peter tells us that new babes in Christ are to desire the sincere milk of the word that they might grow thereby (I Peter 2:2). The only way a baby can develop and grow to adulthood is to eat properly.
A Christian needs to feed from the Bible every day. A baby is not fed once or twice a week, but has to be fed constantly.
2. BIBLE IS OUR LIGHT
The Bible is called a light, because it guides our daily walk with God. It tells us what to do and know how to live. David said in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The Bible will be our guide trough this life.
3. BIBLE IS OUR SPIRITUAL WEAPON
Ephesians 6:11, 17 says we are to put on the whole armor of God that we might stand against the tricks of devil. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He met every temptation with God's Word (Matthew 4:3-11). We can do the same. The Bible is our sword in the battle against Satan's temptations. Psalm 119:11 says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE
Since the Bible is God's Word to us, and He is the author, then we must read and study it to know what He wants to tell us. The Bible is very important to us and is very profitable to us. We must therefore study it and live by it. There are different ways to feed on God's word in order to grow spiritually.
1. STUDY BIBLE BY HEARING IT
Romans 10:17 says, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We need this faith in order to live properly for the Lord. One of the best ways to study the Bible this way is to hear it preached and taught at church. That is why it is so important to be in church every service.
2. STUDY BIBLE BY READING AND MEDITATING ON IT
Paul told Timothy in 4:13 to ". . . give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Every Christian should read the Bible every day of his life. When we read the Bible, God is speaking to us. We must set aside a time everyday to read and study the Bible. Normally the best time is first thing in the morning. Get up a little early so you can spend some time with the Lord in reading His word and praying.
The best way to read the Bible is to have a plan and a goal. Some plan to start reading at Genesis and read through the entire Bible in one year. This is very good. But for a new Christian, it is usually better to first start in the New Testament. Here is a suggest order to begin in the New Testament:
Gospel of John, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Philippians, etc.
But we must do more than read, we must study the Bible. Think about what you are reading. As a new Christian, don't expect to understand all you read. It may not all seem to make sense at first, but if you are patient and sincerely study, you will find the Bible fits together. But a casual or brief glance once or twice a week, will not teach you the Bible.
As you read, underline verses in the Bible that are special to you. Keep a small notebook beside you when you read and write down thoughts the Lord gives to you. Have a Bible reading schedule and mark it as you read.
After a child is born, he begins to grow. He must have proper food. What a joy for those parents when he begins to walk. They look forward to that day when they hear their baby talk. The words "dada" and "mama" are sweet to the ears of a parent. So it is with the Christian. The Christian needs spiritual food, the Bible. He begins to walk with God. And it also delights the heart of God when His children talk to Him and call His name. This is what we call prayer. Talking to God as a child would talk to his father, for He is our Heavenly Father.
PRAYER IS A PRIVILEGE
As children of God, we can come to God as our Father and expect Him to hear our requests because the new Christian is a Child of God. As a member of God's family presenting our praise, thanksgiving and petitions to our heavenly Father.
Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us of this wonderful privilege. As born-again Christians, we can claim this promise.
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16))
The song writer said "What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief's to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer..."
PRAYER IS POWERFUL
James 5:26 says, "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
This simply means that when we prayer as God wants us to, then our prayers affect the way things happen and the way God does things. God who knows all things, and what will happen before it happens, still desires us to pray that He can hear and answer of requests. All of us have things we should pray about. Prayer can do anything that God can do, and that is powerful. Probably the greatest power we have is prayer, so let's use it!!
Solomon prayed for wisdom and became one of the wisest men to ever live. Elijah prayed and fire fell from heaven at Mt. Carmel. Elijah prayed that it would not rain for 3 years and it didn't. Daniel prayed and God delivered him from a den of lions. The church prayed in Acts 12 that Peter would be delivered from jail and while the group was praying, Peter was delivered and came to the door of the house where they were assembled. Cornelius prayed that he might hear the Word and be saved, and God sent Peter to preach and tell him how to be saved. On and on you could go. The power of prayer!! George Muller, who operated a children's home prayed in several hundred thousand dollars over the years to supply the home.
Have you ever prayed for something and received it? If you are saved, you prayed that Christ might come into your heart and save you, AND HE DID!! But don't forget the small things God gives to you in answer to prayer.
HOW DO I GO ABOUT PRAYING AS I SHOULD?
Many people want to know HOW am I supposed to pray? Don't feel bad if you are asking this same question. The disciples also had to come to Jesus and say, "Lord, teach us to pray"(Luke 11:1). Don't forget that praying is talking to God with a sincere heart. Most of us know how to talk!! Talk with God as you would a good friend, but realize He is more than just a good friend, He is your Heavenly Father who has saved you from your sin. Approach God boldly, but also in a respectful way, realizing He is holy and Righteous. But don't be afraid, for He loves you and wants to talk with you and you to talk with Him.
Take time everyday to get alone with God and pray. This is a good time for your daily devotion in the Bible too. After studying, then you can pray to the Lord. Just be honest and tell God what is on your heart and how you feel and what you desire.
Some people have begun as a new Christian to follow a simple rule of praying. You don't have to follow this exact pattern, but it might help you to develop a good pattern for praying. Make sure it doesn't become mechanical, for God is REAL and your praying should be real.
A = Adore and worship the Lord first in praying.
C = Confess any sin and disobedience in your life and ask forgiveness.
T = Thank the Lord for all He has done for you, not only in salvation, but for daily things.
S = Supplication, which means praying for others and their needs and also for yourself and the needs you have.
PROBLEMS IN YOUR PRAYER LIFE
Don't get discouraged at times when you pray and there is no immediate answer. Many people get discouraged and stop praying. If you are in fellowship with God, you can be sure that God has heard your prayer. God answers prayer in one of three ways: Yes; No; and Later!
But many people have a problem with sin in their lives. A Christian's prayers will be hindered if he has unconfessed sin in his life. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Note that in James 5:26, God says that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) We should not expect God to answer our prayers if we are not living as we should. Being "righteous", means being "right". God will not bless our disobedience.
He does, however answer our prayer of confession of sin and seeks to restore us to fellowship. The problem with unconfessed sin in one’s life is that it places a barrier between us and God. The barrier is not placed there by God, but by us when we sin.
God says confess your sins and ask for forgiveness and He will forgive. He has promised to forgive and cleanse you from your sin if you confess them (I John 1:9).
You cannot overcome any sin that you refuse to confess. That is why confession is important. When we say that sin is sin we put it in its proper place. We openly admit it and that gets it out where we, by God's help can deal with it.
Let's consider a few more important things about prayer that will help eliminate problems in your prayer life.
l. You must ask God for things. James 4:2b says, "Ye have not because you ask not."
2. You must pray in Jesus name. John 14:13 says, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
This does not mean that saying the name of Jesus has any magical power in just saying the words. When we pray in Jesus’ name it means we are praying according to His will. We could not use the name of Jesus or involve Jesus in things that were not right. By praying in the name of Jesus we are recognizing that we are seeking God's will and are submitting to it.
3. You must pray according to God's will. 1 John 5:14 says, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." Always want what God wants. Never ask for anything that is sinful or against what the Bible teaches.
4. Stay close to God. John 15:7 says, "If ye abide (fellowship) in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
5. Don't ask for selfish reasons. James 4:3 says, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
DON'T FORGET TO PRAY EVERYDAY!
WHAT SIN DOES TO A CHRISTIAN
When we were saved by trusting in Christ, we became a member of the Body of Christ. Before our salvation, we served our own desires and Satan's wishes. But now, as a child of God, we have a new relationship with God. We must not take this lightly, because God doesn't take it lightly. The Bible says in I Corinthians 6:19-20:
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Since we are no longer our own, we cannot do as we please. This sounds like we are losing something, doesn't it? It sounds like becoming a Christian means giving up pleasure and joy. The fact is this, apart from God, we will continue to sin. We will be in the bondage to sin and its destructive influence in our lives. Never forget that SIN is the greatest destructive force that will ever come into your life. Look at what sin will cost you:
Jesus said, ". . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John 8:34)
The Bible explains that the believer has a new force directing him:
"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6:18) In other words, the Lord sets the believer free from the destructive results of sin, and then guides the believer's life toward righteousness. Righteousness means simply doing that which is right and is the opposite of doing that which is wrong.
WHAT ARE THE AFFECTS OF SIN IN A BELIEVERS LIFE?
l. SIN SEPARATES US FROM THE FELLOWSHIP OF GOD
Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
The first thing sin does in a Christian's life is to separate us from the fellowship of God. God is holy and will not look upon sin. Our sin causes God to turn His face away. When fellowship is broken we can pray, BUT there is no answer. We can read the Bible, BUT it has no meaning and freshness. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me"
2. SIN WILL DESTROY THE JOY OF OUR SALVATION
David was a man after God's own heart; he enjoyed the presence of the Lord and God blessed him until sin destroyed that joy. David wept with grief, desiring that joy again. David wrote this in Psalm 51:12 "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."
The second phase of sin in a Christian's life is the lost of joy in their salvation. The joy of going to church, the loss of joy in testifying to others for God, the joy of seeing souls saved. When this happens, we normally start finding fault with everything and everyone.
3. SIN WILL BRING THE CHASTENING HAND OF GOD
Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
Just as a good parent corrects and chastens his disobedient child, so is God forced to chasten us because of our disobedience and unwillingness to confess our sin. This chastening may come in different ways. It may be in sickness; disappointments; financial lose; it may be trouble upon trouble, but God our Father, must chasten us for sin. Don't ever forget that He does it because He loves us!!
4. SIN CAN BRING PREMATURE DEATH
The most serious state of sin is when God's patience is exhausted and He turns you over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh (not the soul). This can occur when a believer refuses to turn from his sin and God after much chastening and conviction takes their life to stop them from sinning.
1 Corinthians 5:5 "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
1 John 5:16 "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."
5. SIN CAUSES GOD TO TAKE AWAY SOME PRECIOUS THINGS
Because of David's sin God took away the most precious thing he had, the child that was born.
2 Samuel 12:14 "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die."
A saved person who turns away from the Lord into sin and refuses to confess and make things right is headed for great sorrow. If necessary, God will take that which is most precious from us in order to bring us back to Him.
6. SIN TAKES AWAY ONES TESTIMONY AND OPPORTUNITY TO GLORIFY THE LORD.
Jesus said, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. . . .Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:2,8)
The reason churches have such trouble in finding Sunday School and Bible Study teachers is because a believer would not live for the Lord. They remained in sin and the next effect of sin occurred the believer did not mature in Christ.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.
7. SIN STOPS A CHRISTIAN FROM MATURING
Over the years as a pastor I have learned that it is the obedient believer who matures in the Lord. The believer who is obeying the Bible and trying to live by God's Word has trouble just like everyone else. However, the difference is that the maturing believer is able to go through difficult times and never lose their inner joy and peace.
The believer who follows the Word of God is being prepared in advance for the trials that come their way.
The surest way I know to live a miserable life full of doubts and confusion is to live your live doing everything wrong. If a believer is not doing what God instructs in the Bible....he is doing everything wrong!!
For example: Ones personal self esteem will be devastated by not following the Lord. Why? Because no matter what we do it will not be rewarding or satisfying and we will have little confidence in our own abilities. If there is something you know is wrong in your life and you know you should overcome it and yet you do not, you have a low opinion of yourself! The best thing to do would be to pray, ask God to give the strength to overcome the problem....and then stop doing it! After you conquer the difficulty you are free of the thing and you will feel better about yourself. Further, you will be made stronger and will be better able to cope with more difficult problems.
One real hindrance to our overcoming difficulty is to ignore the problem. Many times we know it is destructive, yet we try to justify it in any number of ways. The most common excuse we use is to plead, "I'm too weak." The fact is you really are, however that excuse doesn't hold water when we read, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13) Our pretext to make us feel better is dissolved in the face of Paul's exclamation, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:10) A believer has the God's power and in Christ we can overcome ANYTHING!
Another pretext we use is to say, "I am not really so bad, I don't do really terrible things", or as one person told me some years ago, “I have other things to deal with now and can't be bothered with this problem". Another time I was told, "I have come a long way from what I was; in time maybe I will overcome this thing also". The real problem these folks had was that they do not except that - ALL- sin, (in our eyes -little or big) is sin and is destructive. God does not give us the latitude to commit any sin. Why? All sin is destructive. In failing to deal with one sin you’re in fact are destined to fail at many others. The effects of sin are accumulative. A sin that is allowed to remain affects our conscience. The longer it is allowed to remain the more deaden is our conscience and will to resist.
Think for a moment about why God commands us to turn immediately from all sin. What would you think of a parent who let their child drink alcohol, but would not let them have hard drugs? A foolish parent indeed is one whose thinking is so warped. God wants NO sin in our lives! His standard is perfect. He wants us never to have to experience the harmful effects of any sin. What kind of God would he be if he overlooked our pet sins?
Two verses of Scripture put everything into proper perspective. Carefully read the following verses.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)