Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash.
What happens when we take the step to believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour? Is it a whole new world, as the lyrics of the Disney film, Aladdin, makes it out to be?
Some of us experience inner peace in our hearts. Others speak of breakthroughs and restoration of broken lives.
For many of us, though, it may seem as though nothing has changed. But, in reality, everything has changed!
When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, in reality, everything has changed!
In the Bible, Acts 26:18 tells us that, when we become a Christian, a spiritual transaction has taken place, and we move from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.
The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross releases us from our sins (Colossians 2:13-15) and His resurrection ensures that we have new life (Romans 6:4).
As children of God, we are gifted with eternal life, our destiny and purpose in life are redefined (Matthew 6:33), and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 1:13-14).
However, there may be questions running through your mind:
- Am I really a Christian?
- Does He answer my prayers?
- How can I overcome my issues?
- Will God really forgive me?
- What does God want me to do?
We can be assured that we are saved by faith, that God answers our prayers, gives us victory over our circumstances, extends forgiveness to us and guides us in all the issues of our lives. (Read for more details on the Five Assurances of our faith.)
How can we orientate ourselves to this new life? Here are some practical steps we can take:
1) Connect with God
The Christian faith is founded on a personal relationship with God. When we determine to connect with Him, He draws near to us (James 4:7).
Firstly, we learn about God through reading the Bible. All of God is revealed in His Word, and 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible teaches, corrects, redirects and trains us to develop godly beliefs and right living. For example, if we are anxious about our jobs, family or a health issue, the promises found in the Bible anchor our souls with these truths:
- He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
- God is our refuge and fortress in whom we can trust (Psalm 91:2)
- God keeps us in perfect peace when our minds are fixed on God and we trust Him (Isaiah 26:3)
Start by reading God’s Word regularly. There are many online resources which aid us; such as the Bible Project which tells the story of God, in short video clips. The Bible App has highlighted verses of the day, and daily reading plans for new believers. Devotionals also help us to experience God through testimonies of life change.
The Christian faith is founded on a personal relationship with God.
Secondly, we connect with God through prayer, by spending time with God and intentionally communicating with Him. We do not pray only when we go to church or at a bible study group.
Prayer is acknowledging God at all times (Proverbs 3:5-6), from the moment we wake up, through the day, and before we sleep.
As we relate to God, we depend more on God and less on our own way of thinking. In doing so, we grow in confidence to come to Him to receive help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
If we do not know how to pray, our Lord Jesus shows us, in Matthew 6:9-13 NLT:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
God’s Word and our prayer are intertwined – as we learn about His truths through the Word, we respond to Him in prayer, whether to confess a wrongdoing, to pray for someone, or simply to thank Him for helping us.
2) Join a community of faith
Fellowship is when we “do life” with fellow believers of Christ – whether it’s hanging out over a meal, studying the Bible, singing worship songs, or encouraging each other in our life journeys.
Fellowship reminds us that we are accepted as His sons and daughters in the family of God (Romans 8:16). That is why we attend church services. At church, we celebrate together what Christ has done for us on the Cross, praise God for who He is, and thank Him for all He has done for us.
It is important to join a church where we can grow spiritually and mutually encourage each other.
So it is important to join a church where we can grow spiritually and mutually encourage each other (Hebrews 10:24-25).
There is an online directory which provides a listing of churches by denomination. Find a church which is rooted in God’s Word and led by the Holy Spirit, where we are welcomed, grow spiritually, and bond with others in small groups.
For those in the marketplace, there are lunchtime meetings where believers come to learn and pray together.
One such programme is Alpha, which aspires to provide a community where everyone can find and know God. Look for one near your office, and explore with like-minded Christians the dynamics of our faith.
3) Grow and give
After we join a small group, one of the best ways to grow our faith is to attend equipping programmes. These range from discipleship courses, such as the 2:7 Series, or others which teach us about parenting, prayer or strengthening relationships.
These help us to be built up and established in our faith (Colossians 2:6-7).
Being a Christian does not mean that there will be no problems – the difference lies in the reality that God is with us.
In our spiritual journey, the act of giving is based on the principle that we are blessed to be a blessing to others (Proverbs 11:25). This giving is never out of compulsion but an expression of our gratitude towards God. Start with small acts, such as offering to buy dessert or help a fellow cell member. The culture of blessing honours God and deepens our bonds of fellowship.
Giving can also be sharing our testimony to encourage someone: Madam Lee’s testimony is a shining light – she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour at 88 years old. She joined a church immediately and attended the Hokkien service. A few months later, she was baptised, in the presence of her relatives and friends.
In the same year, after attending an evangelistic service, she pulled a chair, sat down and began to share her story to those who would hear. Today, she embodies 1 Peter 3:15, always ready to share the reason for her hope.
God desires our Christian faith to be one of abundant life (John 10:10b). This does not mean that there will be no problems – the difference lies in the reality that God is with us, and fills us with joy and peace as we trust in Him.
In doing so, we will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).