“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 1
Is God in my life now?
Congratulations, by the way, on beginning a relationship with God.
When you asked Jesus into yourlife, you began the most valuable relationship a person could have.
The night that I asked Jesus into my life, I knew it was a big decision. I had been a skeptic years. To speak out loud, into the air, and talk to God felt monumental.
It also seemed absolutely right to do.
My prayer was brief. “Ok, you win. I ask you to come into my life.
You may do with it whatever you want.”
In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God’s existence. As God, it seemed to me, he had a right to influence my life.
Here’s the first thing I noticed about God:
God is invisible. (Impressed, aren’t you?) But actually, this was an issue.
I mean, when you asked Jesus to come into your life, how do you really know that he’s there? You can’t see him.
How do you know that he really entered your life?
Does it rely on your sincerity? Or what you said in your prayer? Or how you feel?
No. None of these.
You have a relationship with God now, because he offered it to you.
You simply responded to him.
This article will explain how you can be sure that Jesus is in your life — and what that means!
Is God In My Life Now?
When you made that decision and invited Jesus into your life, it is important to know, did God hear you? Yes. Jesus promised that He would enter our lives, if we ask Him.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus makes this offer, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Did you open the door of your heart to God? If so, what did He say He would do? Would God mislead you?
First John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
In John 6:37, Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” And in John 10:27-29 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we could be in relationship with Him. He’s not indifferent to the issue. He went to great lengths to bring us into relationship with Him. Jesus took our sins on Himself and covered us with His righteousness, making us fully forgiven and fully accepted by Him. We don’t have to first live good lives, or perform religious rituals, or spend years begging Him. God is the one who made it possible for us to have a relationship with Him. And we come to Him based on what He did for us, rather than what we can do. He paid for our sins, in order to forgive us and come into our lives. First Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
When a person asks Jesus into their life, it is exciting to know that, what God says is now true about your relationship with Him:
” In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which he lavished upon us.” (Ephesians 1:7,8)
” This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9,10)
” And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life. I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)
To grow in your relationship with God:
To get to know God better, spend time in His word (the Bible) asking Him to reveal more of Himself to you and for Him to build your relationship with Him. The Gospel of John is a great place to start(fourth book in the New Testament).
And talk to Him freely. We are encouraged to “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)
(You might want to write down one or two of the sentences from the Bible that are mentioned in this article. And maybe put that paper on your desk or nightstand to look at again later.)
If you have any questions, I am happy to chat with you. Just email me at : email@example.com
“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 2
What God did.
Here’s one of the most remarkable aspects of your relationship with God.
You are not in this relationship alone.
This is not one-way communication. It’s not merely you worshiping God. He is also very involved.
God pursued you!
I remember the first few days after asking Jesus Christ into my life. I had so many questions:
What is he like? What does he care about?
What does God think about our lives here?
How does he view us? Or me?!
Here’s the surprising thing. In the Bible, he answers those kind of questions! And more!
Now that you have a relationship with God, you will find him speaking individually to you as you read the Bible. He reveals himself through it. He will speak directly to your heart.
Don’t ask me how he does it. He just does. Do you have a Bible? If not, you can get one at any neighborhood Christian bookstore, or on Amazon.com.
When you go to buy a Bible, you’ll find various translations. The King James Version uses “thee” and “thou” which is a tad slow to read (unless you’re someone who speeds through Shakespeare).
If you buy a Bible, I’d recommend any of these:
New Living Translation (NLT)
English Standard Version (ESV)
New International Version (NIV)
Ok, let’s move on to how to read the Bible. There’s really nothing tricky about it.
Let’s say you read this statement that’s in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…”
And I asked you: “How does God feel about people in the world?”
I really wouldn’t want you to get creative. Or imagine how God might feel or should feel.
When you read the Bible, simply look at what it says. “For God so loved the world…” That tells you how God feels about people in the world: He loves us.
Ok, here’s a Bible study I think you’ll enjoy. It shows how God is in this relationship with you!
Study #1: How did we get into this relationship with God?
Begin with prayer: “God, I ask you to speak to me through your Word, the Bible. Speak to my heart to understand what you want to say to me. Amen.”
Study # 1
How did we get into this relationship with God?
The following verses will help you understand what God says is now true of your relationship with Him. After you read the verse, the question that follows will help you notice what that verse says.
(The little numbers in front of each sentence designate “verses” and is simply a numbering system created long ago to help Christians refer to specific sentences in the Bible.)
John 112Yet to all who received Him [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
Q- How does a person become a child of God?You may type your answers here and print the lesson when you finish.
You might think that you chose to believe in Jesus, much like choosing a car to buy or choosing a political viewpoint. But the following shows God’s involvement in your becoming a Christian.
John 15:1616You did not choose me, but I chose you…
1 Corinthians 1:99God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Ephesians 1:4-54For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. 5In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.
Q- In verse 5, what was God’s motivation for choosing us?
Ephesians 2:4-54But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
Colossians 1:1313For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Q- As you look at this verse, what four things has God done for you?
Romans 59Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!
Q- When the Bible says that Jesus saved us, what did He save us from?
Ephesians 28For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Q- Is it up to us to earn our salvation?
Q- Can anyone gain salvation by doing good things?
Conclusion: Summarize what these verses have said about God’s involvement in your becoming a Christian:
You’ll see some questions. Look at the verses (statements from the
Bible) that come after the question. Type in your answer. At the end, you can print it out, if you’d like.
As you do this study, just notice what God says.
Next letter: Why God’s love is so unusual!
“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 3
To describe God’s love, the best word I can think of is “unusual.”
His love is so different from what we experience from any other person.
Just to make sure I was being fair in using that description, I looked up the definition of “unusual.”
Here it is:
“being definitely out of the ordinary and unexpected, slightly odd or even a bit weird.”
Yep. That fits. Be prepared to be surprised. Here is what God’s love is like:
God’s Unique Love
A relationship with God is like no other relationship you may have experienced. God has a unique kind of love for you. It is unconditional (not based upon meeting certain conditions). God loves you because He loves you.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us…” (1John 4:9,10)
He does not love you based upon your performance. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any more than He already does—and there is nothing that will cause God to love you any less. He loves you, even more than you love yourself.
Until now you have probably only experienced conditional love. Conditional love is based upon what you do. Perform well on the job, on the team, or in the relationship, and you are “loved.”
In opening your life to Christ, you have found total love and acceptance. That may be hard to comprehend if you’ve never felt totally loved and accepted by anyone. But it’s true! Unfortunately, you won’t always feel that God loves you. There will be times when you find yourself doubting not only His love, but also His existence. You’ll feel like giving up. Don’t.
When God gave you a new life, it didn’t come trimmed in lace and smelling of perfume. Jesus began His earthly life in a smelly, damp stable. He tasted real life, and that will be the flavor of your journey with Christ—no magic, just the promise of His presence with you.
God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
There’s a Danish proverb: “The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.” The knowledge that God loves you will keep you going when the next mile seems intolerably long: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)
Our faith rests in what God has revealed about Himself to us. He specifically wants us to believe and rely on His love for us:
“…the Lord delights in those who fear [reverence] him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalms 147:11).
“…the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.” (Psalms 33:18)
King David, whom God referred to “as a man after my own heart”1 trusted God’s love: “…I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God” (Psalms 59:16,17).
Jesus describes the depth of His love for us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11). He loves us no matter what—even when we disobey. But we will live in His love, enjoy His love, as we obey Him.
To grow in your understanding of God’s love for you, take some time over the next few weeks and read Psalms 103, John 15, and 1 John 4, and note all the ways that God’s love is described.
“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 4
Your Relationship with God Is Secure
In life, there is always a risk in starting a new relationship. You can never be sure if it will last.
The person might move away, or break off the relationship, or lose interest.
When it comes to having a relationship with God, there is a real security to it. God is not going anywhere. And even if you are not faithful to him, he will remain faithful to you.
It is not because God is subservient to you. He’s not a wimp!
It is because he has now adopted you, made you his child. God loves you and views your relationship with him as eternal.
Let me explain the permanence of your relationship with Christ:
Will This Last?
How to know our relationship with God is secure.
There are many relationships in our lives that don’t last. We might see a divorce, friends we lose track of, or maybe even the death of someone we loved. So, maybe you are wondering about this new relationship with God…will this last?
God tells us, “I will never fail you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews13:5). When we place our faith in Jesus, wanting Him in our lives, we become His child and forever can rest secure in His love. The following Scripture will help you see what is now true of your relationship with Him.
We did not earn a relationship with God, nor do we have to struggle to hold onto it. The Bible is clear about this. Once we placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we were accepted by God.
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous [in right standing, ok with him]. He did this through Christ Jesus when [on the cross] he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24)
The following Scripture will help you see what is now true of your relationship with Him.
Before we became ChristiansYou may not have been aware of the following. However, before becoming Christians, the Bible describes us as:
Now that we are ChristiansFrom the moment we receive Christ into our lives, we have a new relationship with God, and a new life. Here is how the Bible describes us now that we have Christ in our life. We are:
Jesus said, “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John6:37). He describes that further saying, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30). He holds us securely.
Further we can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians1:6).
Jesus fully paid for our sins and once we thank Him for that, we received Him into our lives, desiring for our lives to be His, He makes us His child, giving us full forgiveness and acceptance with Him.
This relationship is protected, not by what we do, but because of God’s character and Jesus’ death on our behalf. Jesus purchased our relationship with Him, canceling the penalty of sin that stood between us and God. And so you become His child, forgiven, indwelt by Him, declared righteous in His eyes, because Jesus covers our sin. Unfortunately, we still will sin. We still will find ourselves choosing to do things our way instead of God’s way. But this does not change the security of our relationship with Christ. We stand secure in this relationship, because of what God says about it. “Therefore, since we have been right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1).
Salvation through Jesus is purely God’s gift, received once by faith. At that moment we have begun a relationship with God that lasts eternally. Our relationship with Christ does not hinge on personal holiness, or levels of faith, or sacrifices, or good works or religious acts. God doesn’t intend for our focus to be on our performance. He desires our focus to be on Jesus.
Unlike other relationships we have in this world, our relationship with God is secure because He brought us into this relationship in the first place, and He is faithful to keep us unto eternal life. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 5
The value of other believers
Have you ever spent time with a marathon runner? (Maybe you’re
one!) Did you ever know a serious runner who didn’t train with other runners?
Rarely happens. Why?
They need the motivation. Accountability. They need someone who expects them to show up at 5:30 in the morning. Someone they can run with, who will challenge their speed and distance.
Guess what? We need others around us who know Jesus. Who want God to influence their lives.
In case you’re thinking I’m about to advocate “sign up with X group” – that’s not going to happen.
I’m talking about the value of being around ANYONE who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow him.
Other Christians inspire me. They often challenge me, just by their example, by the way they trust God. And I get to benefit from what God teaches them.
And, I have found that Christians, for the most part, love others pretty well. The Bible says, “God has poured out his love into our hearts…” I deeply value those friendships. I think you will too.
So, how do you find other believers?
Here’s a link with some churches that are probably pretty good:
Find a Christian Church
Find a Christian Group
Look up things in the Bible, Online
Purchase a Bible
You can purchase a Bible from a local Christian bookstore or any general bookstore. It doesn’t really matter which translation you choose, but as a help, we would recommend any of the following :
There are many good Christian organizations . And many good churches.
(There are some very weird ones out there also. Just to be honest.)
Ask God to guide you. And choose a church or Christian group that’s easy to get to, and feels comfortable to you.
There you’ll find other new believers, as well as believes who have been walking with Jesus for a longer period of time.
“The Spiritual Starter Kit”
Lesson # 6
What does it mean to trust God?
In all likelihood, you do not interact with everyone the same way.
You might do things for a demanding coach (give me 50 laps!) that you would not do for…a store clerk. What you share with a close friend, you might not reveal to your mother.
And she might appreciate that!
So now you are in a relationship with God. How do you think he wants you to relate with him?
The answer to this might surprise you.
It’s not, “be good…clean up your act.” Or “work hard to serve him.” Or even, “stop sinning.”
Throughout the Bible, God tells us how he most wants us to relate to him: Trust him.
Isn’t that remarkable? But it’s true.
He wants us to rely on him, to rest concerns and ourselves in his hands.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
If we are going to believe God, or trust God–what exactly does that mean?
At the end of this email, I’m going to point you to a great article that explains what faith is…and isn’t.
If you would like to personally send me a message, I will write back.
Ok, this will help you understand what it means to trust God:
The Nature of Faith
Everyday we continually exercise faith. Ninety-nine percent of every belief or value we have is held by faith. Faith is central to all of life. For example, let’s say you get sick. You go to a doctor whose name you can’t pronounce and whose degrees you’ve never verified. He gives you a prescription you can’t read. You take it to a pharmacist whom you’ve never personally met, and he gives you a chemical compound that you can’t understand. Then you go home and take the pills according to the instructions on the bottle. All the while you are trusting in sincere faith. Faith is also central to the Christian life. The word faith appears 232 times in the Bible.
WHAT IS FAITH?
First, I think it would be helpful to tell you what faith isn’t.
Unfortunately, these ideas of faith are even being taught today in some churches.
Hank Haanegraff in his book Christianity in Crisis tells the story of Larry and Lucky Parker who withheld insulin from their diabetic son, because they were told that if they merely had faith (if they merely used the force) then he would be healed. Tragically, their son lapsed into a diabetic coma and died. Rather than conducting a funeral, they held a resurrection service, believing that if they had enough faith, that is, if they said the right things and simply believed hard enough without showing any signs of doubt, then the force of faith would bring their son back from the dead. Larry and Lucky Parker were later tried and convicted of manslaughter and child abuse. Why? Because they had the wrong idea of faith.
The gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) show that the disciples were also often confused about faith. However they were wise enough to ask Jesus about it. In Luke, chapter 17, you see the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith. And here was Jesus’ response to them:
“If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”
Jesus’ response is interesting. Notice He doesn’t say some of the things that we’ve become accustomed to saying in the church. Jesus didn’t say, “You just need to try harder.” Nor did Jesus say, “You just gotta believe.” Jesus’ response reveals an important truth about the nature of faith. The mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. Jesus used that fact to illustrate that it isn’t the size of your faith that’s important. Rather…the power of faith rests in the reliability of its object, not in how confident you may be.
Let me illustrate what I mean. Suppose I’m standing on the edge of a lake during the first cold weeks of winter in the Northeastern part let’s say Canada . The lake is frozen over with a very thin sheet of ice. Being filled with faith and confidence I take a step to walk across the newly formed layer of ice. Unfortunately, even though I am extremely confident and “full of faith” the result would be a cold, wet shock. As long as the ice is thin, it doesn’t matter how much faith I have. The ice is not reliable.
Now imagine a few months later, after the cold winter has taken effect. The ice is now several feet thick as I stand at the edge of the lake. Because of my past experience, I’m extremely cautious as I think about walking across the ice. I’m not sure whether the ice will hold me. After all, it didn’t before. Even though I’m frightened and have “less faith” than I did before, the smallest most hesitating step will be rewarded by the feeling of a firm footing. What’s the difference? The object is more reliable.
It’s true that the power of faith rests in the reliability of the object. However…
The degree of faith one places in an object is directly proportional to the knowledge of the object.
For example, consider a man terrified of flying. When he first arrives at the airport he buys insurance at one of those coin-operated insurance policy machines. He has his seat belt buckled twenty minutes before take-off and is sure to listen carefully to the routine “emergency instructions.” He has no faith in the ability of the plane to get him to his destination. But, as the journey progresses, the passenger begins to change. He first unbuckles his seat belt, then has some lunch, and pretty soon he’s talking to the person next to him and joking. Why the change? What happened? Is there more faith at 1800 meters? Of course not. The more he learned about the object of faith, the plane, the more faith he exercised in that object.
It’s the same in the Christian life. The more we learn of the Lord, the more faith we can place in him. Learn to live by the facts of God’s Word rather than your feelings. Spend time in the Bible just observing, asking God to show you more of who He is. There are many places where you could start. Psalms 145, 146 and 147 are three wonderful chapters describing who God is. In all of the Bible, ask God to teach you more of Himself and notice specifically how He wants you to trust Him. In any given situation, ask God, “What about You would be helpful for me to know, as I trust You in this situation?” Go to the Bible and become a student of God and His relationship with you.
D.L. Moody once said, “I used to pray daily for the Lord to give me faith. Then one day I read Romans 10:17, which says ‘faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ So, I began to read my Bible, and faith has been growing ever since.”
“The Spiritual Starter kit”
Lesson # 7”
When You Fall
What if I sin? Does God still forgive me?
One thing that is true of you now that you have Christ in your life…you are still human.
That means, you are sometimes (often) going to do things your way, instead of God’s way. That is also true of me and every other Christian who is alive.
Even if we want to please God, want to trust him, and want to behave well. We still have a great ability inside us to sin.
I will now try and explain what sin is, and what affect it does and doesn’t have on your relationship with God.
And most importantly, it will help you be sure of God’s forgiveness.
What do you do with sin??
Gentlemen:Enclosed you will find a cashier’s check for R150. I cheated on my tax return last year and have not been able to sleep ever since. If I still have trouble sleeping I will send you the rest.
Each of us wants to feel forgiven for the wrong things we have done. The question is, where does this forgiveness come from?
As a Christian, all of your sins are forgiven. You probably believe that from the Bible. But how do you respond to it? A friend who counsels many believers commented: “Some Christians don’t really believe they have sinned; others don’t believe they are forgiven.”
I would like to help you appreciate both the reality of your sin and the reality of Christ’s forgiveness.
What Sin Is
Ernest Hemingway once said that if something is moral, you feel good afterwards; if immoral, you feel bad afterwards. That’s a popular view of sin – many have lived by it. But it’s not a biblical view. Biblically, sin is an attitude of wanting your way instead of God’s way.
How much does sin matter to God? —— He cannot tolerate it.
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13a)
“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5a)
That may seem unimportant. Hasn’t Jesus paid for all your sins? Why be concerned about sin when God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life? Perhaps you should view sins as mistakes, mere miscues in life.
God never views sin as such.
Because of one sin, Adam and Eve were exiled from paradise. Because of sin God brought a flood upon the earth’s inhabitants in the days of Noah. He brought fire upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their blatant immorality. Sin kept the original children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years.
God hates sin. Yet to us, sin feels good, and we do it. Like Adam and Eve, we think we can know evil and yet not be overcome by it. But we do not become like God. God knows of the existence of evil, yet God is not evil nor does He give in to evil. We, on the other hand, are attracted to it, and we give in to it.
The Guilty Party
Whenever you sin, God’s Spirit inside you is grieved. Sometimes He’ll cause you to feel guilty. In sinning, you are choosing at that instant to live independently of the Lord’s will for you. That doesn’t cause God to hate you. He still loves you. But it saddens Him:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
To understand how sin does affect you, let’s look at the difference between your relationship with God and your fellowship with God.
Your Relationship With God
Your Fellowship With God
Began when you received Christ (John 1:12)
Began when you received Christ (Colossians 2:6)
Everlasting (1 Peter 1:3,4)
Can be hindered (Psalm 32:3-5)
Maintained solely by God(John 10:27-29)
Maintained in part by you(1 John 1:9)
Never changes(Hebrews 13:5)
Changes when you sin(Psalm 66:18)