We are in the fourth and most practical part of our five-part series, which has been designed to introduce, and disciple new Christians in their walk with Jesus Christ; to bring newcomers up to speed with our series. Thus far we have studied: 1) exactly what happens when we "accept Christ" as our Savior (because it is a much bigger picture than most realize.) 2) what our new identity becomes through Jesus—the love, worth, oneness—He died to lavish on us. 3) Sin—what it really is, why it is so horrible, and how to resist it. Now we will study something that will be of tremendous help to most Christians, new and old today. We will place Scriptures into a contextual guideline to give practical, literal steps to take in establishing the new life God would have us to live on our new journey with Him because it is natural to feel intimidated and overwhelmed when making a decision that changes the entire course of your life. Truth be told, many of us "long time" Christians will benefit greatly from this study because a number of us have simply been existing, rather than growing and thriving in His salvation. So far, we have gone deep into how our hearts and souls should change after salvation. Now, we will explore very practical ways in which our thoughts, actions, and very life should follow.
First, get the proper mindset of what your new life centers upon. 1) You did not become a Christian for the sole purpose of your benefit anymore than you become a husband or wife for your benefit or joy alone. You became a Christian for the mutual benefit of becoming one with, sharing life with and serving and loving the very real person of Jesus Christ. You were saved for the single reason of sharing an awesome relationship in which you had lost the right to be a part. Everything’s for us now (Christ and you, as one). Second, you did not become a Christian just so things will work out better for you in troubles and trials—not primarily for healing, direction, relationships or gain. You became a Christian so you would be better in the midst of your troubles and trials, in your new found hope, strength, and purpose with Him. Lastly, becoming a Christian is not just about where you will go one day, but in understanding and accepting for the first time that God is real and this is His broken world—realizing this broken, misguided, selfish world and it's ways have always been a part of our own mentality and desire; realizing our world is naturally against God and everything He shows us about real love; realizing His way of love and life are far better; and realizing the world needs to see their need for Him, needs to see their own forgotten and misunderstood worth. Being a Christian is deciding based upon this awakening that my entire existence, purpose and worth have all changed. Therefore, my life needs to reflect the urgency and the excitement of these changes—not in a legalistic, forced way, but because what we now know about why we are here completely altars everything that we couldn't not change. [Example: we've been eating poison in a certain food, would you continue eating it after you found out?] Here is the step by step guide to finding our way in a new direction from day one.
Some of these steps will seem cliché to you, others will make you think. But, all are Biblical and necessary to knowing Christ intimately, and becoming what He created us to be in Him. If you are serious about truly following Jesus Christ—whether you've been a Christian for 2 days or 20 years—don’t take one single thing we will cover as an option to try if you buy into it, or something to do if you think you can make the time, or pick and choose what fits your lifestyle right now—because Jesus makes it very clear He has given everything for our love and safety. The relationship He wants with us will require no less from us: Matthew 10:38-39; 1 Peter 4:2. If you don’t agree that Jesus is that worthy because of all He has done for us, and you’re not ready to give that much in order to become what He made you to be—you do not truly want Him, you just want good things for yourself. Saying ‘yes’ to Christ is literally just like getting married. Accepting a proposal given to you is free and easy—just as God's gift of salvation is free to you because it cost Him everything to offer it. The life you choose to live because of that vow will cost you everything if you mean it; not to earn anything, but because you want to be with Him and be like Him.
There are three areas of change that a real choice for Christ will demand in our lives. 1) Is the change on the inside: Romans 12:2. Your goal is to know Him intimately and be more like him. Like any relationship that comes only by learning more about Him and spending ample time with Him. Here are the steps [no excuses, no ‘maybe one day’]: a) make studying His Word a daily thing—not trying to "read through" His Word, but reading His Word with the desire to see and know Him better. You can’t trust anyone else to help you learn about and know Him more. The world will purposefully deceive you. Many well-meaning people will mislead you. It’s is up to you alone to learn about Him. So many think they can cruise through Christian life following their heart. But our hearts are warped and selfish—we can’t see true love. b) spend time in real and meaningful prayer every single day, reflecting on what He's done for you; giving your day to Him first. Your life is His. Trust Him with your problems and needs, share your pains, worries and even sins; seek His Will in your life. How can you possibly focus your heart and your day on Him if you don't meet with Him in fellowship and direction? If you don't make your heart and mind one with Him first? If you don’t stay close and intimate? Every day that you spend outside of prayer is a day that you say, "I don't need Him in my plans." His plans for your day are far better than yours. c) walk in awareness (in His Spirit) of His presence with you and in you. See people with His heart that is in you. Understand every single person you ever meet—good, bad, ugly, beautiful, old, young, beggars and executives—has a story, a life, struggles, pains, hopes—and just like you. We all have equal love and worth in His eyes. Every person you ever meet deserves to feel that worth. Look for His leading as you live, work and play on how to react to, love and serve them.
Now, don't turn this next area—or any area—into a legalistic necessity, but a choice to show your love and trust. If you truly see everything differently about the pain and hurt which the sins of our fallen world, and even our own nature brings, then your next logical step is to remove these things from your life as soon as you become a disciple of Christ. It is absolutely imperative—and should be a joy to take account of your life immediately and change anything, at any cost, that would hurt or offend Him, or steal your heart from Him. You need to do a purge—remove with passion—all of the things you find yourself living in or doing, that are not a part of your new life in Him: 1 John 2:15. Look at your life right this moment: Am I living with someone? Am I hanging with friends who will keep me in sin? In a relationship with a nonbeliever? In a same-gender relationship? Claiming or believing I am another gender? Hating someone who has done me wrong? Withholding forgiveness, acting harshly or selfishly in attitude? Being an unloving husband or wife (even if justified)? (not giving the worth, respect and value to them above self). Working a job that is hurtful or wrong in God's eyes? Acting in an immoral way within the job I am holding? (perks, cheating, lying, suppressing others) Seeking entertainment and leisure the wrong way? (movies, music, partying, substance abuse). Using language that is offensive to some, or especially using degrading or hurtful speech? Replace these things with the actions, habits, and attitudes God has shown are His better way to love and live. Don't try to excuse, explain, justify or delay; don’t look past the sins in your life or your family. Make these changes instantly—whatever the cost to your lifestyle, pocketbook, or reputation. Trust that God will bless you for your obedience, and trust that He will draw so much closer to you. Do it all simply as a gift of your love and trust, because none of it now matters as much to you as having more of Him: Philippians 3:7-9. Do it because He is our sacrificing, humble King who gave everything He had for you first. You do not have to do it alone; you don't have the strength to do it alone. He will do it with and through you. If your actions and habits in life do not reflect the passion you claim for Him, you either don’t really believe it or you still love yourself more than Christ and your faith is a lie—even to yourself: 1 John 5:3; John 14:15-17.
Change your objective in life. Lastly, here is the one massive change that so many Christians never seem to make after their choice to trust Christ. Live your life with a totally renewed purpose and objective: Colossians 3:2; Ephesians 2:10. How do we do this? It may mean you are called to a new vocation. It may also mean—and most often means—that you work in your same vocation with a totally different and purposeful goal: to show people their worth; to reflect Jesus Christ in your relationship with them; to tell about Jesus Christ and their real purpose wherever you work. We are Jesus to the world and He needs to be everywhere. Don't simply desire to work in a "more Christian" environment after becoming a new believer. Simply ask Jesus to help you see and love those around you, right where you are. God's mission field is just as needed at your workplace as it is in the jungles of Africa. Changing your objectives in life means every person you meet is worthy of your attention, value and love. See every person you encounter as priceless. Be interested in others, care for their needs more than your own. It is your purpose in life first to touch, heal, teach and love others. So live this in your everyday life—neighbors, coworkers, relatives, in public. Stop being the victim who has an excuse to be different and unloving. Embrace God's love and ways and break the cycle. Changing objectives means devoting yourself sacrificially to loving your spouse and children, deserving or not. Stop taking them for granted. They are your gift, your responsibility from God. Win them in your show of Christ's love just as He did for you—realizing their salvation—their realization of their worth to God—is now precedent above your rights or justification. See where you can serve them every day above yourself. Changing objectives means praying for healing and help in all situations, and trusting God to provide. But, do not live in the expectation of being delivered out of every difficult situation or from every troublesome person. Do not try to measure God's love, or whether He accepts and loves you based upon the existence of your trials. Instead, devote yourself to Glorifying Christ in the situation or in that bad relationship. Pray for wisdom to learn in the trial, for whom you are to touch in the trial; for strength to show trust and joy in the trial. Live in your trials for His glory rather than in contempt and doubt of his existence/love. Realize that God has kept you here after your salvation and has died to cleanse your soul and live as one in you so you could join Him in reaching and helping others. He wants you to have confidence in the importance and power of your prayers and actions. He wants you to powerfully, expectantly intercede for those you love; trusting that He will act. He wants you to pray, give, serve and care with His heart. He wants this to be your primary desire in life. Are you serious?
There it is—spelled out for you: he guideline for what God wants from you as a new Christian. You now have a clear, defined direction in which to take. This guide is Biblical and according to Jesus—not up for debate. Not because these steps are necessary for your salvation, but because Jesus knows that if you have truly seen Him for who He is—if you truly see the death sins brings; if you truly love His character and ways—you will desire to live this life with Him. Otherwise, you still belong to the world. Will you fail? Often. Will you sin? Frequently. Because in our fallen nature, it is impossible, but we have His Spirit to help us. All we have to do is surrender our will to Him. God is not looking for your perfection in all things. He is looking for a heart that says: "This is not who I am anymore, I am yours." And they get back up and continue on the journey with Him again. How many of you have already justified why you can't follow as God desires? How many of you have already made excuses for why some of this doesn’t pertain to you? For many Christians, this is your moment of Truth. This is your deciding day. Answer this in your heart: do you believe God is real? Is what you've just heard Biblically accurate? Is the world broken? Do you trust Him and want Him or not? Then there is one thing left to do: Matthew 4:19 "Follow Me!"
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