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Posts Tagged ‘new in the faith’

The most wonderous and perhaps the most hazardous period in a bird’s life is when it first learns to fly. Given wings by the Creator a bird is meant to fly. Yet in those first few days of flight a young bird is liable to find itself on the ground stranded and within reach of cats and other animals that are more likely to swallow it than help it back up into a tree.  New believers are a lot like those young birds.  Entering a life changing relationship with the Lord gives us wings and prompts us to desire flight.  But it is dangerous to believe we are ready for all the world, the flesh, and the devil are going to throw at us now that we are on God’s side opposing them.  We must realize that becoming a believer in Jesus Christ means we are at war.  The verse, “the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” certainly applies and new believers are his particular target.  Knowing this to be true and having a daughter who is enthusiastically embracing her newfound faith, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few keys that I have learned about flying the flight God created us to fly.

As in many list of “To Do’s” the following will be categorized into what I understand are 1) Must Do, 2) Ought to Do, and 3) Nice to Do.  I encourage you to ask the Lord to highlight to you which of these you need to prioritize more or less.

MUST DO

1) Get an easy to understand bible and dive in.  I read several translations, but I recommend getting one that has a fair amount of scholarship behind it like the NIV or NASB.  While all the bible is “God-breathed” (See 2 Tim 3:16) the gospels are the best place to start.  Get to know Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.  After the Gospels I would move through the New Testament before tackling large portions of the Old Testament.  I have gone through Psalms and Proverbs a number of times reading small sections each day with longer readings from the New Testament. 

2) Since the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding as you read.  It is His story and He wants you to understand and apply it to your life.  Take time to think about what the Word of God is saying.  This time of meditating upon the Word should be intentional.  A time to quietly talk to God and listen for Him to speak through His Word is a vital element in our life.

3) Talk with God.  When we are His, God says He will never leave us or forsake us.  Take time to begin to converse with Him.  This will begin with our talking… most of the time.  But be aware that He will impress truths from the bible upon your heart.  That is one of the ways He communes with us.  There are many types of prayer: adoration where we simply glory in Who God is, supplication where we lay our needs before Him, intercession where we lift up the needs of others, confession where we open our hearts to God and pour out the dirty laundry of our lives and ask His forgiveness.  All of these have their time.  But every day set aside time to just talk with the Lord.  And whenever you think of Him offer up a word of thanks.

4) Find a local body of believers and join them.  The Church was God’s idea.  He calls the Church His bride.  Therefore we should joyfully seek out a faithful, bible-believing, gospel-living church and join.  As in all our decisions after we become believers we should ask Him to guide us.  Sadly not all churches are faithful or bible-believing, or gospel-living.  Steer clear of those churches.  The Lord wants you to be plugged in and nurtured so He will guide your steps.

5) Give.  Jesus is our model… He GAVE His life for us.  God is our model… He GAVE His only begotten Son.  We are encouraged to give over and over.  I suggest reading about giving and tithing then praying for God’s guidance in this area.  Jesus talked about money more than prayer.  I think it is because money and how we handle it are a much clearer indicator of the condition of our heart than whether we pray or not.  Prayer comes easily and in a way it is usually doesn’t cost much.  Tithing always costs us, but the growth of our faith is assured when we tithe trusting in God to provide.

OUGHT TO DO

7) Get plugged into a small group.  This may happen through your association with a local church, but if not then seek out a group of believers who share your faith and a lot of your interests.  If there is a co-worker, a neighbor, or friend who exemplifies the faith you want to have, ask them if they know of any small groups that might accept a new person.  As in seeking a church to join, pray for the Lord to help you land in the right place. 

8) Seek ways to minister to others.  I am not talking about immediately getting a guitar and beginning street evangelism.  I am saying take an inventory of your giftedness (and God has given everyone at least one gift and usually more than one) and offer it up to God.  The list of ways to minister is just about limitless.  To minister is to simply find ways to reach out and help others in Jesus name. 

9) There are 3 types of individuals that everyone should have in their life – a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy or in other words a Mentor, a Friend and Peer, and a young protegé. 

Paul in the bible was a leader in the early church and wrote many of the New Testament epistles.  One of the characteristics of Paul’s life was that He took a few individuals under His wing and acted as a mentor to these younger believers.  So a Paul is a mature believer who can mentor you. 

Barnabas was a peer with Paul.  Barnabas was known as an encourager.  He acted as an intermediary in a personality clash between believers and helped bring reconciliation.  So a Barnabas is a friend and peer in the faith.

Timothy was one of the young men that Paul mentored.  He was following in Paul’s footsteps although he seemed to lack a lot of Paul’s confidence early on.  Two of the epistles are actually letters from Paul to Timothy where Paul exhorts Timothy in the work of the church.  Timothy is a young believer that you can pour into from what God has given you.

A word of caution here as I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me – these should be persons of the same sex as you.  If you are male these persons should be male and if you are female then they should be female.

10) Practice spiritual introspection.  Those are fancy words that simply mean you ask God to reveal things in your life that need to change and then, with His help, you change them.  If you are doing the things mentioned above; reading the Word, Praying, having Godly fellowship then these will come up sooner rather than later.  I was intentional about this early in my walk and there were several things that I realized did not fit with the new person that I had become.  The bible says we are a “new creation”.  It is incongruous to be a new creation and walk in the same old sin.  You will not know lasting peace until you go through this.  In reality you will still have deep-rooted things to address later as you mature, so you might as well get started early.

11) Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  This is closely related to the item above.  I would rather put this in the must do list, but…

I am a strong-willed person.  That can be positive and negative.  In the positive, when I commit to something I am going to fulfill my commitment.  In the negative, I can go good places that God did not intend for me to go.  I have realized that I must be submitted to God completely, even to the point of giving Him authority over my will.  When we are born again His Holy Spirit is placed within us.  However the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He does not dominate or dictate.  He moves and fills what we give over to Him.  I realized I wanted the Holy Spirit to fill all of me.  That is my continual prayer… God have your way in me completely.  Holy Spirit fill me completely.  He has transformed much of me and I anxiously await His continuing work in me.  I urge new believers to begin this transformation. 

NICE TO DO

12) Begin reading good literature.  CS Lewis is my favorite author.  There are outstanding thinkers and there are outstanding writers.  CS Lewis was one of the greatest of both.  There is a plethora of great things to read that edify the mind and spirit.  I encourage you to read deeply of the godly authors and classic literature.

13) Begin listening to uplifting music.  There is an area of our soul that music touches that talks, sermons, and writings can’t quite reach.  Music that glorifies God is a balm that soothes the spirit.  While my personal preference is contemporary christian music, there is much that does not specifically fall under that genre that can still be refreshing and uplifting.  For both of these two follow the admonition of Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thought on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  This about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

14) Get fit.  The bible says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We should treat that temple as something special.  Diet, exercise, and getting out of addictive and hurtful habits should become our goal.  While this may have the same end result physically as getting in shape for vanity reasons, it is radically different.  We don’t look good for others to admire.  We are fit because we are made in God’s image and we are special to Him.

15) Work diligently.  As Christians we reflect on our Lord.  If we are poor workers then we give people a bad impression of the Lord.  Paul admonishes us to “work as unto the Lord.”  We should be the top performers where we work because we have reasons to have a great attitude, we are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, and we know that God’s got our back.

These are 15 areas that I have found as helpful in my walk with Christ.  Even as I wrap up I can think of other helpful steps, but for now these will do.  Please send comments with the steps that you found most needful when you first came to faith in Jesus.  I would love to hear from you.

Take care and God Bless.

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