I JUST BELIEVED TODAY
If you’re reading this, chances are it’s because you’ve recently taken the first steps on a journey. If you’re unsure of exactly what you signed up for, it’s actually not a bad place to be. After all, you took the first step. A step forward. A step toward something. A step toward Someone.
Whether or not you had a full picture of what your future looked like, you still took a step toward Christ, toward God. What motivated you to do this? Only you know and for whatever reason, you reached out for Christ.
You see, this new path you’ve started down is a path of discovery and what you’ll discover is makes all the difference. This path doesn’t just lead you to a new label, a new group of friends, the “right” and “wrong” way to think, or act, or be. This path starts with God and it leads to God; all along the way, you’re encountering God, the path is all about God.
You probably have lots of questions but don’t worry, that only makes you normal. The cool thing is that God has made it so the NEW you can begin to slowly but surely grasp what this NEW life is all about. He’s your guide along the way, you are never alone. You don’t ever have to figure anything out by yourself. God has given you Himself to serve as a constant companion.
Every journey starts with a few small steps and you have already made the most important ones.
If you’re ready to keep moving forward here is a resource for you to help you understand your new life.
WEEK 1 Day 1 - WHY DO I NEED A NEW LIFE?
This week we’re going to talk a little more about the ins and outs of your NEW life and what it really means. So, let’s just start at the beginning, shall we? Why do you need new life anyway? It’s an important question to ask, right? You need new life because without it, you’re dead. Seriously. When God created the world and everything in it (a narrative you can read in the Bible in Genesis 1-2), He made Adam and Eve to be perfect. After all, God is perfect and He wanted man and woman to be able to hang out with Him. Which meant they had to be perfect too. The only problem was that they broke God’s trust. They became not-perfect. Adam and Eve rebelled against the Creator. (You can read all about that in the Bible in Genesis 3.) The Bible calls this sin. And rebellion against God earned Adam and Eve separation from God and eventual death. Here’s the worst part: From that moment on, every person ever born carried Adam and Eve’s sinful heart in them and that means they carried death with them. That means you, me, the best person you know . . . everyone who has ever rebelled against God earns death. A really awesome guy named Paul wrote a letter to the Romans that says this: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Just like when you have a job and your work earns you a wage (“wage” is another word for money), our sin actually earns the wage of death for us.
The rest of that verse from Romans brings a ton of hope to the scene, hope that you already know about: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in christ Jesus our lord” (emphasis added). Because Jesus was God’s Son, He was perfect. He was the only person in the position to substitute His life for yours and because God loves you so much, He wanted to make a way to give you life. So God allowed Jesus’ death to count in your place:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians5:21). By dying on the cross and coming back to life on the third day, Jesus paid the wage of death that your sin rightfully earned you. In other words, Jesus bought you life! You’re alive only because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus once said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). You could never have been good enough or tried hard enough to save yourself. Your sin would’ve always kept you separated from God but Jesus took care of that. By accepting His sacrifice on your behalf, you have gained life. You were once dead but now, and forevermore, YOU ARE ALIVE! Consider taking a moment to talk to God in prayer about this. Please don’t skip over this.
- Thank God that He loves you so much!
- Thank God that He had a plan to allow you to escape the death your sin earned you.
- Ask God to remind you how your NEW life can be used to help other people learn how they can cross over from death to life.
WEEK 1 Day 2 - WHAT IS MY NEW LIFE?
In John 14:6, Jesus said these words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said, I am THE life! This is what we talked about yesterday. Jesus is truth. By following Him, you have life, a rich, full life today and a life forever with God.
Today’s activity is a simple one: As much as you can, think about what it means to have this NEW life. Ask yourself these questions and really contemplate the answers:
- How does having this new life with God make you feel?
- What is different right now about this new life?
- Can you describe the way you look at Jesus now? Is it different than before?
- Has this new life changed the way you see others? How?
- Have you really thought about what led you to turn to God? If not, think about that today.
If you want, use a separate sheet of paper, notebook, journal or blog to write down your thoughts. Or, if you’re not the “writing type,” simply think about them as you go throughout your day.
WEEK 1 Day 3 - GOD IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
Relationships. They’re full of drama, right? Without Jesus, our relationship with God would have more drama than you can imagine.
Go to Romans 5 in your Bible. Take a second and read verses 6-10. (Read them twice if you need to.) Let’s take verses 6-8 first. Here Paul was saying that maybe, just maybe, someone might occasionally sacrifice his or her life for a great person. But verse 8 says something entirely different: Jesus died for us while we were stuck in our sin. (In other words, we weren’t very great at all.) Now let’s look at 9-10. It says we’ve been justified. Justified is a legal term meaning that we were guilty, but we’ve been declared innocent.
Through the blood Jesus shed on the cross for you, your guilt was wiped away. But look what verse 10 says about what we were: enemies! Apart from Christ, we were God’s enemies! Ouch! But verse 10 says we are reconciled. Reconciled means to restore; to bring back together. We were God’s enemies. Paul spoke to this again in Colossians 1:21: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior but Jesus’ payment for our sins brought us back together with God.
Without Jesus, you wouldn’t be able to know God. You wouldn’t be able to be close to Him and you would be His enemy. Jesus restored your relationship with God. This new relationship is a huge part of your NEW life. Think about how you would answer these questions:
- What part of this new relationship with God are you enjoying the most?
- What has been the biggest discovery for you in enjoying a new closeness with God?
- How is this relationship changing who you are?
WEEK 1 Day 4 - YOU HAVE A PURPOSE.
When God gives us NEW life, He gives us a NEW purpose. What do I mean by purpose? Basically, your purpose is the reason why you’re alive. It’s the goal of all your energy, thoughts, and actions. When God gave you a new life, your purpose, like everything else in your life, became God-centered.
What is your new purpose? It’s interesting and can actually look a few different ways. It could look like Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Or, from Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:18: All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Or from the prophet Micah’s words in Micah 6:8: And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Or from John’s words in 1 John 4:11: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. The answer is that each of these verses and many more speak to your NEW purpose. You have a new purpose, a new reason for living, a new object of your dreams and plans. You have a new lens through which to view your present and future.
Here are 3 categories:
Take a moment to reflect on how your NEW purpose changes the way you look at these three categories of your life.
How does your new life with Christ change the way you see your present and immediate future life?
WEEK 1 Day 5 - HOW TO GROW CLOSE TO GOD.
Can you imagine what it would be like to have a best friend you didn’t know? That sentence doesn’t even make sense, does it? The very idea of having a best friend means sharing life with him or her. You know your best friend. If you didn’t, he or she wouldn’t be your best friend. Imagine someone saying to you, “My best friend and I have never met. I’m not even sure what she likes and what she doesn’t. But, we’re BFF for sure!” You’d look at that person like they were nuts, wouldn’t you! And yet people all over this world have a similar kind of relationship with the “god” they serve. These people devote their lives to gods they don’t know. To put it better, they serve gods they can’t know because they don’t exist. Should we look at them like they’re nuts, too? I don’t think so. If you ask me, I think we should have two responses . . .
1. We should be thankful we serve the one, true God, and that we can know Him! We serve the God who revealed Himself over and over again to real people. These accounts are recorded in the Bible. We should be thankful God chose to go a step further and send His Son to live on this earth. He intersected with real people, too, both friends and enemies who testified in writing that He actually lived and walked on this earth. We should be thankful God has sent His Spirit to live within each one of us, assuring us of His presence, and reminding us that He is real.
2. Our hearts should break. The men, women, and teenagers all over the world who give their lives worshiping statues, myths, or philosophies are basically good people. Like you and me, they believe in what they are doing. But in the end, the thing they serve isn’t “knowable” like God is and that’s a pretty tragic thing. One of the greatest gifts God ever gave us was the Bible, a historically validated account of His interactions with real people. What an amazing thing it is to be able to know the one we serve. Our Lord. Our friend!
- Thousands of years ago, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, predicting the relationship He currently has with us. God said we’d be able to truly know Him in our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:33-34). The Bible is the main way we get to know God. Describe your attitude toward reading the Bible. Do you enjoy it? Does it overwhelm you? Do you feel closer to God when you read it?
- The Apostle Paul wrote that people can clearly see evidence of God and His characteristics in the natural world around them (Romans 1:19-20). Where do you see this at work in your life? Describe how seeing God in creation helps you know God.
- Because God is real, David could say this about Him: “The Lord is near to all who call on him” (Psalms 145:18). When have you felt God close to you? Describe how this nearness helps you know God.
WEEK 1 Day 6 - How To Read The Bible.
This is the rest of three short articles you can read whenever you have time. Each of the articles unpacks one aspect of your NEW life. This one is all about how to study the Bible.
The Bible is the living and active Word of God. Engaging with your Bible with the purpose of encountering God and growing closer to Christ is the key to powerful life change but knowing how to approach the Bible can be tricky. Here are two helpful strategies for interacting with the Bible. Try them out and see what you think.
Meditating On Scripture - Meditating on God’s Word is simply when you read it and think about it. Let’s practice a bit...
STEP 1: Adjust your focus.
- Clear your thoughts and pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see God’s truth in this passage. Turn your Bible to Psalm 100.
STEP 2: Read the passage.
- Read the psalm slowly. Read it a second time, focusing on each word
STEP 3: Observe the verses.
- Clear your head of any distractions. Look for words or ideas that jump out at you in the verses. Circle these words or phrases or write them in a journal.
Now finish up:
- Think about how these verses make you feel. What do you want to say to God after reading this?
- Think about how these verses might change your outlook on your day or your life.
- Pray to God thanking Him for what He has shown you through His Word. Simple enough, right? You can use this a guide to meditate on any passage of Scripture.
Mining Scripture - Mining scripture is searching the depths of God’s Word for a greater understanding of specific passages. Let’s give it a shot.
STEP 1: Read the passage.
- Let’s read Galatians 6:1-5.
- Read it again, paying attention to what stands out as important.
- Write down any words you think are important or any questions you have after reading the passage
STEP 2: Know the context.
- Go back a few verses before the passage you’re studying. Read until you come to your passage.
- Now read a few verses past your passage. You should have a better idea of what’s going on now.
STEP 3: Find the main idea.
- Write what you think is the main idea for Galatians 6:1-5
STEP 4: Live the truth.
- The Bible must influence your life. Come up with a few ways you could apply the main truth of the passage to your life. Put them to use and watch yourself grow closer to the Lord.