It was a glorious and wonderful day when you walked forward to proclaim
that you, too, are a believer in the Lord Jesus. For many of you the date
sticks out in your mind. Maybe you said a simple prayer by yourself and no
one knows that you have made this tremendous, life changing decision. If
you were with anyone they might have hugged you telling you welcome to
the family. Perhaps you did not feel any different that day but later you
noticed that there were some things that you no longer wanted to do,
have, or see. New desires began to well up inside you, things you never
would have thought to do a few weeks before. One day it suddenly
occurred to you that the Lord was changing things about you. What
2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
The day you asked Jesus into your heart, that scripture became reality for you. In a split second, your spirit was completely changed. The old man died and the new was born. Many of you need to get something new from this. Inside you is a brand new YOU! That old person that you used to be is GONE! Maybe you did not feel any different at all. Life goes on. Someone might have told you to read your Bible or come to church once in a while. For those who were fed the Word of God straight from the beginning, that is wonderful. But quite a few brand new believers were left on their own to find things out and they had questions.
'But I don't feel any different.'
'What do I do now?'
'Is THAT all there is? Why did I bother?'
If you have said that, asked any of those questions or you have questions that no one seems to be able to answer, perhaps we can begin to answer these things for you. Please understand that I do not know everything. As folks grow in the Lord, they tend to find out that the more they learn, the more they realize they know very little.
God is awesome and He is vast. Do not assume that God is as small as this planet. He is everywhere at the same time. The universe was formed with His Word. He spoke and it became a reality. Then evil showed up. God handled it. Jesus came as a man. He loved you enough to die for you. Now there are things that He wants from you. 'Oh yes, I KNEW there were strings,' you say. Yes if you think of it that way. However, if you truly understand what Jesus did for you on that cross, then you will want to do anything that He asks of you. What does He want, you ask? A bit of time in your day. See, no one can do your studying, reading, or prayer for you. There must be time set aside for the Lord. He requires it. You need it. Why?
Ephesians 4:23-24, "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
The only way that a mind can be renewed is by talking to the Lord each day (prayer), reading His Word (the Bible) and studying it because there you will find the wisdom of God, and meditating on His Word (thinking about a specific scripture or thought that you found in the Bible).
As a new believer, a person needs to know a few things:
1) Prayer is not a memorized thing that you say that means nothing to you. When our children are small, we teach them some prayer for bedtime like 'now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.' Now, you may have had some variation on that or something entirely different. For a child, this could be good because they will likely mean it the first few times they say it. There is a danger here because after a while it no longer is a prayer but something you have to say. It becomes routine and meaningless. Adults have this same problem. We get caught in the trap of letting words come out of our mouth but we do not even know what they mean. They become empty. An example would be 'have a nice day.' Or 'How are you?' Do you REALLY want to know about their gallbladder surgery or the newest zit or is that simply a greeting we tend to say? Meaningless words. 'But I learned the Lord's prayer when I was a kid. I know I am supposed to pray that.' Do you know what it is actually saying? If not, then it would be a good thing to study and meditate.
Matthew 6:9, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."
Jesus did not say to pray this exact prayer, although there is power in it. Note: I am not saying that you cannot pray this same prayer for those of you who feel that this is the only way you know how to pray. However, He said to pray LIKE this. Please remember that Jesus had a wonderful, glorious connection with the Father. He prayed quite a bit. But how? He and the Father had communication with each other.
An example for today would be; you are on the phone talking to your best friend, sharing things you would tell no one else. That person is doing the same for you. God wants you to talk to Him like that. Conversationally. How can God tell you anything if you are only reciting some words? How can you listen if you are constantly reciting words? He wants meaningful conversation with you. Then you need to listen too. Remember your phone call? How would you feel if the other person called, talked about all sorts of things that were bothering them, that they needed, were suffering through and then hung up on you? What if the last thing you said was 'hello?' How rude! We need to learn that God is a Person who has feelings and needs. Talk to Him like a friend but then listen like a friend too. He has so much to tell you! When I get wrapped up in talking to the Lord, I talk out loud just as though He is right here because He IS, right inside me.
2) Reading the Bible will bring you to a closer knowledge of God. In His
Word is His wisdom. If you can get hold of the wisdom of God, you can do
anything. The Bible is our guide to living. For instance, when a person
buys a new piece of machinery, there will be an owner's manual to explain
how to run it, how to maintain it, and what to do in case of breakdown.
Your Bible is your owner's manual and it will tell you how to live a blessed
and health filled life. However, if it sits on the coffee table or next to your
bed on the night stand everyday, then it will not help you. I have learned
that if I read my Bible and treat it as a study tool, I can remember
scriptures and after a while they mean something to me. No, you didn't
get that. Those scriptures, after a while, will come alive inside me! Since
God is no respecter of persons, then it will happen for you too. Where did
I see that? Look it up! You cannot just read it like a novel. It takes time
2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The Lord wants you to know about Him and to get to know Him. When you have someone in your life that pleases you, then it is necessary to get to know them better. Friendship does not happen in an instant. It takes time. Any relationship will take effort and time to grow. This is also true with the Lord. After a while, there is a closeness you never knew existed. What a blessing!
3) Meditation is not humming and spouting phrases. Nothing will 'take you over.' God is a Gentleman and will do nothing that you are unwilling to have done. It is an intense thought about a specific scripture. Great revelation can come by simply putting your mind on a verse that is giving you trouble. 'Lord I just don't understand what this says.' Keep it in your mind, going over it. Take the verse apart and examine it closely. A negative example of meditation is worry. When something is wrong or some bill is coming due and you don't have the money for it, that thing will eat away at you. That is negative meditation. If you will put as much effort into a verse of scripture, it will not be long before you notice that the worry is gone.
Doing these three things will change your walk with the Lord. The mind will be renewed day by day. When the spirit is fed spiritual food, it benefits the mind as well. Reading feeds the intellect. Did you know that every part of your life requires food of one sort or another? The body has to have food to energize it much like needing gas (or petrol) for your car. Your mind feeds on intellectual food when you read and study. The spirit, that part of you that is YOU, feeds on spiritual food that comes from God's Word. Isn't that great?
If you have not yet asked Jesus into your heart, please consider doing that now. He is calling to you to come to Him. Tell Him that you are sorry for your sins. Why? Because when Jesus died on that cross, He took on all of the sins of the world, including everything you have ever done wrong in your life. He also took every sickness and disease known on this earth on His body. Then after He died, He went to hell, rose again from the grave cleansed of all that filth. He did all of that so that you would not have to go to hell. But Jesus will not make you come to Him. He wants only those people who want to go to Him. Why? Because He did not make puppets. You have free will, a choice. It is a gift. Please come to Him today.
Don't miss the previous article in this series: Growing Up Spiritually, The Beginning.
Followed By "What's Love Got To Do With It?"