MENU

Where the world comes to study the Bible

1. Beginning Your New Life in Christ

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

Hooray! You have trusted in Jesus Christ. Someone shared the good news of the gospel with you. You recognized your need, you wanted this good news for yourself, and you accepted it by faith in Christ. You began a new life, one based on a relationship with Jesus Christ and filled with treasure that is yours to know and experience. In this series of lessons, you will delve into your spiritual riches and learn how to experience the kind of life your God has prepared for you. You can begin your new life in Christ with confidence and joy!

First, let us review what this gospel “good news” is.

The Gospel

The Gospel is all that God has done, is doing, and will do through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This “Good News” of Jesus is the power of God to eternally save people from the penalty of sin and to unite believers with Christ so that his resurrected life is lived out through them. This revolutionary truth centers a believer’s life on the heart-transforming work of Jesus Christ both for now and eternity.

The Gospel Defined

  • God created us to enjoy relationship with himself.
  • Our sin has separated us from a holy God and caused spiritual death in us.
  • Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became human, lived a perfect life, died, and was resurrected to pay sin’s penalty of death.
  • Trusting in Christ eternally unites us with him and other believers.
  • Our new relationship with Christ gives us his presence and purpose in life.

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)

1. Learning About Your New Relationship With Christ

The Bible

If you received a special letter or email from Jesus telling how much he loves you and giving guidance you need for your daily issues, would you read it? Of course you would!

That’s what the Bible is — God’s love letter to you! The Bible is God’s words for you and to you. It is the source of truth about your new life in Christ. Like reading a love letter increases your love for the author, reading and studying the Bible will help you to know your God better. You will discover many treasures in your new relationship with Christ.

Some Bible Basics

The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. The Bible is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament tells the story of the beginning of the world and God’s promises given through the nation of Israel. It tells how the people of Israel obeyed and disobeyed God over many, many years. All the stories and messages in the Old Testament lead up to Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth. The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and God’s promises to all those who believe in Jesus. You can think of the Old Testament as “before Christ” and the New Testament as “after Christ.”

Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses within those chapters to make it easier to study. Bible references include the book name, chapter number and verse number(s). For example, Ephesians 2:8 refers to the book of Ephesians, the 2nd chapter, and verse 8 within that 2nd chapter. Printed Bibles have a “Table of Contents” in the front to help you locate books by page number. Bible apps also have a contents list by book.

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your new life with Christ. Let’s get started!

Key Question: How can a person who trusted in Christ know with certainty that he or she will spend eternity with God?

You can know that you have a secure and personal relationship with God. The next section will highlight some Biblical truth to help ground you in this security in Christ. Read each Bible verse and think through the answers.

2. Confidence In Your New Relationship With Christ

You can be confident in your new relationship with Christ because you have been completely forgiven and accepted by God. Only Christ’s death on the cross is sufficient to provide this proper relationship with God.

Read Ephesians 2:8-9. What is declared in these verses?

Three important words in these verses explain the basis of our acceptance before God:

GRACE: Unmerited favor, an undeserved gift

Q—What role did grace play in establishing your relationship with God?

A—You didn’t deserve this relationship nor did you earn it by any good works. Rather it is a free gift from God that you accepted when you received Christ through faith.

SAVED: Rescued, spared from disaster

Q—What do you think this verse means by saying you are saved? From what are you rescued?

A—Romans 6:23 says that the final result of sin is death. When you received Christ, you put your trust in Christ and his death for your sin. You have been rescued from death and eternal separation from God.

FAITH: Belief, trust, commitment of mind, attitude, action

Q—What does faith have to do with receiving Christ?

A—Simply put, faith is believing or trusting God and his Word. When you received Christ, you put your trust in Christ and his death for your sin. Instead of believing in your own ability to earn God’s favor, you must now trust that you have been reconciled to God through what Christ has done for you.

Key Question: Suppose you were standing before God and he asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?

3. Discovering Truths about Your New Relationship with Christ

Many exciting things are true in your new relationship with Christ. Discovering these truths will help you build a firm foundation to your faith.

Christ forgave your sin. Read Colossians 1:13-14. When you trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sin, all your sins were forgiven...past, present, and future. What difference does it make to you to know that your sin is forgiven?

Christ made you a child of God. Read John 1:12. When you received Christ, you began a loving relationship with God as his child. How important is that to you?

Christ came into your life and will never leave you. Read Hebrews 13:5. Under what circumstances might Christ leave you?    

According to these last two verses, how many times is it necessary to receive Christ?

Christ began a new life in you. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. When you trusted Christ to be your Savior and Lord, you began a new spiritual life. God will increasingly produce many new qualities in you as you respond to him. Are you grateful that God has made all things new for you?

Christ gave you eternal life. Read 1 John 5:11-13. On what is eternal life based? When does a person’s eternal life begin? When will it end?

Key Question: If you were to die tonight, how sure are you that you would spend eternity with God? Circle your answer: 0—25—50—75—100%

These wonderful benefits are based on what Jesus Christ has done for you. None of them can be earned. You received them the moment you placed your faith in Christ.  Are any of these truths especially meaningful to you right now? If so, why?

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today's "Together Session" and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

The Personal Discovery Guide is for you to work on by yourself. It is divided into “days” to help you build a new habit of focusing on Jesus daily as you learn to enjoy your relationship with him. Read the verses and record any reflections and responses you may have to what you read.

You have trusted in Christ’s payment for your sin. In Lesson 1, you have been introduced to the basis of your new relationship with God—faith in Jesus Christ. You have also looked at five truths about your new life in Christ. So, you can now have confidence in your new life with him.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

To help you as you are becoming confident, memorize 1 Bible verse during each week. Memorizing Bible verses is not just something “to do.” You are planting God’s words to you in your mind. The Bible calls it “renewing your mind” with truth about who God is and who you are.

The Bible has been translated into English many times through the past 500 years. The verses printed in Graceful Beginnings are from the NET Bible®. If your Bible is a different English translation, you may choose to memorize the verse below from your Bible rather than what is given. That is perfectly okay. The point is to begin a habit of memorizing Scripture. Work on it a little bit every day. You will be surprised at how soon it just flows from your mind.

Memory Verse 1

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “Beginning Your New Life in Christ”

Review these five truths. Make them part of your life as you grow in Christ. Find and read the verses listed beside each truth. Write observations of what you see and how you feel about the truth in the space given. Thank God that this is now true of you. Knowing these essential truths are critical to our growth in Christ.

  • You are forgiven: Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13
  • You are a child of God: John 1:12; Romans 8:15; 1 John 3:1
  • You are indwelt by Christ: Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27.
  • You have a new life: 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-5
  • You have eternal life: 1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24; 10:27-29

Getting to Know Christ

In this section, you will focus on the life of Jesus as told in the gospel of Mark. Spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—his life, his relationships, and his teaching. As you do so, you will get to know and understand him better—this One who loves you dearly. Tell him what you are thinking.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 1:1-13. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 1:14-28. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 1:29-39. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 2:1-17. Reflect on what you read—

Days 6 & 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 2. “The Focus of Your New Life – Christ!

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

2. The Focus of Your New Life – Christ

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

You heard the good news of the gospel and believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who gave himself for your sins so that you could have eternal life just by believing in him—your Savior. But more than salvation, Jesus Christ calls you into a relationship with himself!

Christianity is Christ! It is not a lifestyle, rules of conduct, or a society whose members were initiated by the sprinkling or covering of water. It is about knowing him personally.

1. Jesus Christ – The Promised Messiah

Over 1500 years, Israel’s prophets had foretold the coming of the Messiah, God’s anointed one, who would be both savior and ruler. Nearly 300 specific Old Testament references were made to his coming. The following are just a few. Read them and notice the specific prophecy fulfilled.

Old Testament

New Testament Fulfillment

Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1

Isaiah 9:6-7

Luke 1:31-33

Isaiah 7:14

Luke 1:35

Psalm 22:16

John 20:25

Psalm 22:18

Mark 15:24

The odds against one person fulfilling merely eight of these prophecies would be the same as a blindfolded person picking one special silver dollar from a two-foot high stack of silver dollars over an area the size of Texas. Jesus fulfilled over 200 of them…exactly! The rest will be fulfilled when he returns. And, his sinless life qualified him as the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins.

Key Question: Jesus lived as a man, died as a man and rose again with a new human body. You heard the good news about Jesus and believed. How much do you really know about Jesus?

Discover truths about your new Savior… 

2. Confidence in the Reality of Jesus

Jesus Is Fully Human

What is revealed about Jesus’ humanity in these verses?

  • Luke 2:52
  • John 11:35
  • Matthew 4:2
  • John 19:28

“For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus Is Fully God

What is revealed about Jesus in these verses?

  • John 1:1-3, 14              
  • Colossians 2:9
  • John 10:30              
  • Philippians 2:6-11

All the evidence points clearly to the fact that Jesus Christ is fully God!

Key Question: How confident are you that Jesus (as man) understands how you feel but is powerful enough (as God) to take care of your every need?

Jesus Conquered Death

The religious leaders accused Jesus of making statements that only God can legitimately make and convicted him of doing so. He was beaten, crucified, and buried in a heavily guarded tomb. All hope seemed to be lost. But…

He rose from the dead on the third day…just as he had promised his followers (Matthew 16:21). Jesus was seen alive by over 500 people as historical eyewitness records testify (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Other religious founders (Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius) are dead. Jesus Christ is alive! You can enjoy a relationship with him—now and forever!

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Key Question: Besides salvation, what do you think are the relationship benefits of knowing Christ? Discover these next…

3. Jesus Is The Answer To Every Spiritual Need

Like Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the gospel of John contains the good news about Jesus—who he is, why he came, and what he offers to those who trust in him. Jesus used specific phrases as word pictures to describe himself to those who were listening and to describe the difference he could make in their lives when they trusted in him. Discovering these truths will make a difference in your life as well. As John wrote,

“But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Jesus is the bread of life. Read John 6:35. Jesus’ abundant love satisfies our hunger for a relationship with God. God creates every human being with a hunger for a relationship with him. How have you tried to satisfy this hunger in the past? What invitation does Jesus give in this verse?

Jesus is the light of the world. Read John 8:12. Jesus’ light directs us to follow him. What is the promise to those who follow Jesus?

Jesus is the gate for the sheep. Read John 10:9-10. Just as the shepherd provided safety for the grazing sheep, there is safety in following Jesus and doing life his way. What does Jesus promise to anyone who enters through him as the gate?

Jesus is the good shepherd. Read John 10:11, 27-30. As a shepherd knows each of his sheep by name, you can enjoy a forever relationship with Jesus as your shepherd. Once you trust in Jesus to take away your sin and become one of his followers (“sheep”), is there anything you can do to make yourself not belong to God any longer?

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Read John 11:25. To his followers, Jesus gives eternal spiritual life now and eternal physical life in a new body after death. What does Jesus promise to anyone who believes in him? Do you feel confident that death for a believer is like going to sleep on earth and waking up in heaven with Jesus nearby?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Read John 14:6. Jesus is the way for us to be totally loved and accepted by God our Father. What does Jesus declare about himself?

Jesus is the vine. Read John 15:5. Jesus nourishes us with his life so we bear fruit in our own lives that represents our connection with him. How significant is it for us to maintain a trusting relationship with Jesus?

4. Christianity is Christ!

Jesus Christ calls us into a close relationship with him. He offers a new life that is joyful and fruitful. Through faith in him, you are totally accepted and loved by God your Father. All the awesome treasures we have are through our faith in Jesus.

Why not spend the rest of your life getting to know this Jesus who lived a trusting life with God so you would know how to do the same and died for you so that you could have a new life?!

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

In this lesson, you learned that Christianity is Christ – it is all about him! The following quote says it well. 

“Jesus Christ gave his life for you so he could give his life to you so he could live his life through you.” (Ian Thomas, 20th century teacher)

As fully God and fully man, you can be confident that Jesus understands how you feel  (Hebrews 4:15) but is powerful enough (as God) to take care of your every need (Ephesians 3:20). Through faith in him, you are totally accepted and loved by God your Father. And, you enjoy awesome treasures God promises to you.

Jesus offers you a new life that is joyful and fruitful. You can enjoy a relationship with him—now and forever!

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – John 20:31.

Memory Verse 2

“But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “The Focus of Your New Life – Christ”

Review these five truths. Make them part of your life as you grow in Christ. Find and read the verses listed beside each truth. Write observations of what you see and how you feel about the truth in the space given.

  • Jesus satisfies your hunger for a relationship with God: John 6:35; Matthew 11:28-29.
  • Jesus gives you direction and safety as you follow him: John 8:12; John 10:9-10.
  • Jesus tenderly loves you and cares for you: John 10:11, 27-30.
  • Jesus gives you his life so you can enjoy your relationship with God and bear purposeful fruit in your life: John 14:6; 15:5.
  • Jesus gives you eternal spiritual life now and eternal physical life in a new body after death: John 11:25; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15: 51-54.

Getting to Know Christ

Continue to focus on the life of Jesus as told in the gospel of Mark. Spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—his life, his relationships, and his teaching. As you do so, you will get to know and understand him better—this One who loves you dearly.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 2:18-27. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 3:1-19. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 3:20-35. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 4:1-20. Reflect on what you read—

Days 6 & 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how  to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 3. “Your New Power Source — God’s Spirit.”

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

3. Your New Power Source – God’s Spirit

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

An amazing transformation has begun to take place since you have trusted in Christ as your Savior. You are now beginning to live the Christian life, which isn’t a standard of performance nor a code of ethics, but a vital personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity is Christ!

When you run a race, such as a marathon, it is your race to win or lose. Living for Christ is different.

Just as our relationship with God is totally dependent on what God has done through Jesus Christ, so the power to live a dynamic Christian life also comes totally from God.

A computer has all the potential to do what it was created to do, but it has no power of its own.

Similarly, through your new identity in Christ, you have all the potential you need to live as a new creation in Christ. But, you must continually draw from the proper power source.

When Jesus left the earth after his resurrection, he told his disciples to wait for the “promise” he would send them from his Father.

“And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

Without him, living a life that pleases God is impossible. With him, you can do anything and everything through Christ who gives you strength through the Spirit.

Read John 7:37-39. What does Jesus promise to those who come to him?

Discover more about the Holy Spirit and his role in your life…

1. Who Is the Holy Spirit?

Even though he is invisible, the Holy Spirit is a real Person and completely God. He is addressed by several titles in the Bible – Spirit of God, Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit. We have one God in three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

What do these verses say about the Holy Spirit?

  • John 14:16, 17              
  • John 16:8              
  • 2 Corinthians 3:17

When you invited Jesus Christ into your life, he actually entered your life—and will be with you forever—through the Holy Spirit living in you. You will never be alone!

2. What Is the Holy Spirit’s Role in Your Life?

To give you life. Read Ephesians 2:1-5. The Bible describes your life before Christ as being dead in your sins. Think of it as having a disease (sinfulness) that led to death (no life). Christ’s death on the cross took care of your disease; God’s grace has removed your sin from you. You are healed of the disease. Then, God’s Spirit restores life to you. What is declared about you now in Ephesians 2:5?

To give you a new beginning. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. What is declared about you? You may not always feel…or act…new. But, in God’s eyes, you are totally new!

To teach you. Read John 16:13-15. What will the Spirit do for you?

Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-12. What will the Spirit do for you?

To free you from sin’s power. Read Galatians 5:16. The lure of life’s pleasures and old habits will tug at you. Your own hormones and desires will crave to be filled. What freedom does the Spirit give to you?

To bring your needs to the Father. Read Romans 8:26. What is promised? How does this make you feel?

To transform you into the likeness of Christ. Read Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18. God’s awesome plan is to change you to become more like Jesus Christ in your character. Jesus’ Spirit living in you has begun this change, and he will continue his work throughout your life (Philippians 1:6). Is this something you desire for your life?

To produce fruit in you and through you. Read Galatians 5:22-23. These qualities of Jesus’ character will grow in your life. Which of these qualities would you most like the Spirit to begin developing in your life?

Read Acts 1:8. What else does the Spirit equip you to do?

To be a witness means to share with others what you have seen and experienced yourself.

God’s awesome plan is to transform your life into something beautiful and Christ-like. Sadly, not every believer experiences the power to live this life as God intended. Some are unaware of the treasure of the Holy Spirit living inside them. Others choose to ignore the Spirit’s work in their lives and follow their own desires instead. Living by the Spirit is a choice…

3. Living by the Spirit Is a Life of Faith

The Life-Long Battle

As long as you live on earth, you will not only have the Holy Spirit living inside you, but you will also have your own flesh still with you and its desire for self-gratification. Life will be a continual battle between the desire to do things your way—or Christ’s way.

The Answer

The Holy Spirit is a greater power than your old nature. Choosing to listen to the Spirit and follow his leading will always be the right choice!

Read Ephesians 5:18. What is the choice given?

The word “filled” means to be directed and controlled. Just as a soccer player freely chooses to let her coach direct her so she can do her best to win the game, we must choose to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives.

The Spirit-Filled Life of Faith

Faith is how you received Christ and his Holy Spirit giving you new life. Faith is how you turn your life over to the Spirit and trust him on a daily basis. The Spirit-filled life is trusting God to produce in you the fruitful life he promised.

You must by faith yield to the Holy Spirit to control your life—recognizing your tendencies to be self-centered and then desire for Christ’s life to grow in you and overcome those selfish tendencies. Consider praying this prayer of faith,

“Dear Lord, I want you to change my life from being self-centered into one that is Christ-centered. I no longer desire to follow my sinful thoughts and actions. I give you, Holy Spirit, control of my thoughts, attitudes, words and behavior today. Fill me with yourself and show me how to live a life that pleases Christ.”

Key Question: The Spirit-filled life is one of adventure with Christ. Are you ready for the adventure? When you think of what God has done for you—and how much your God loves you—is there any other choice?

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

In this lesson, you learned that when you trusted Christ…

  • God’s Spirit came to live inside you forever (you are never alone!),
  • God’s Spirit empowers you to live your new life of faith, and
  • God’s Spirit produces the character of Christ in you.

Faith is how you received Christ and his Holy Spirit giving you new life. Faith is how you turn your life over to the Spirit and trust him on a daily basis. The Spirit-filled life is trusting God to produce in you the fruitful life he promised.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – Galatians 5:22-23.

Memory Verse 3

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “Your New Power Source – God’s Spirit”

Review these five truths. Make them part of your life as you grow in Christ. Find and read the verses listed beside each truth. Write observations of what you see and how you feel about the truth in the space given.

  • You are made alive: Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13-14.
  • You are a new creation: 2 Corinthians 5:17.
  • You can understand God’s Word: John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12.
  • You are freed from sin’s power: Read Galatians 5:16; Romans 6:11-14.
  • You are being transformed into Jesus’ likeness: Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23.

A Word of Caution

Many believers have mistaken the Holy Spirit’s power for an emotional feeling or euphoria. Sadly, when the feelings depart, they think they have lost the Spirit’s power. God’s promise is to “never leave or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Getting to Know Christ

Continue to focus on the life of Jesus as told in the gospel of Mark. Spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—his life, his relationships, and his teaching. As you do so, you will get to know and understand him better—this One who loves you dearly.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 4:21-41. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 5:1-20. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 5:21-43. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 6:1-29. Reflect on what you read—

Days 6 & 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 4. “Prayer — Living in the Father’s Love.”

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

4. Prayer – Living in the Father’s Love

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

You learned that the Holy Spirit brings to you much more than emotions or feelings…although they may be part of it. He brings you his power so that you can live the awesome life Christ has planned for you. Power to overcome temptation and sin, to love others, and to live a life of obedience, freedom and joy is yours through your relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity is Christ’s life in you!

The Holy Spirit also provides the way for you to enjoy a life of prayer.

What Is Prayer?

Jesus taught his followers to think of God as their Heavenly Father. Prayer is communicating with your Heavenly Father and hearing back from him. It is conversation with someone who loves you dearly. What a privilege for the believer…to go directly into God’s presence and talk with him about whatever is on your heart. He desires to hear from us, and he promises to listen!

“And this is the confidence we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we asked from him.” (1 John 5:4-15)

The Holy Spirit helps you to pray (Romans 8:26) and teaches you how to pray in faith—learning to trust in God’s goodness in how and when he answers your prayers. As you study God’s words to you in the Bible, the Spirit will teach you who God is and how to enjoy your prayer relationship with him.

The next section will focus on God’s character. Then you will know who your Heavenly Father is…and why you can trust him.

Key Question: What words come to mind when you think about the character of God? Is he someone you can know?

1. The God You Can Know

God’s greatness is far beyond human understanding. But, his Word does give us part of the picture…He is an awesome God! Take time to think through each of the following characteristics of God and how each one affects your view of God…and your relationship with him.

God is sovereign. Read 2 Samuel 7:22. God is the sovereign ruler over his creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power. Are you willing to recognize God’s authority over you—to trust that he knows what is best for you?

God is all-powerful. Read Ephesians 1:19-20; 3:20. God is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God uses his power to work for us and in us. Do you feel confident that you can ask him to work in your life, and he will do it?

God is present everywhere. Read Psalm 139:7-10, 18. God is present everywhere at the same time. Can you go to any place where God is not with you or cannot hear your prayer to him?

God is all-knowing. Read Psalm 139:1-4. God knows everything there is to know. Does anything good or bad in your life escape God’s notice or surprise him?

God is just. Read Jeremiah 9:24. God always does what is morally right and fair. How does knowing this make you feel as you share your heart with him?

God is good. Read Psalm 119:68. God is good all the time—in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what he allows or does not allow into our lives. As you talk to your Heavenly Father, are you willing to trust his goodness in the way he chooses to answer your prayer?

2. Praying to Your Heavenly Father

Now that you begin to see how great your Heavenly Father is, you may be afraid to approach him in prayer. Yet, as his child, you are always welcome in his presence. Go to him…boldly!

“Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Hebrews 4:16)

You Can Talk to God Anytime and Anywhere

You can talk with God throughout the day, telling him your needs, asking him for guidance, and thanking him for all of his many blessings. And your prayers do not have to be especially long. You can shoot up an “arrow” prayer to God anytime: “Father, I need your peace,” or “Please comfort me right now.” You can talk to him at work, while you drive in the car, even when you are talking with other people! He loves you that much.

You Can Talk to God about Anything

Your Heavenly Father loves you very much and wants to hear what is on your mind. When you talk to him about your thoughts and needs, it shows him that you trust him. You can call out to him, and He promises to answer—what a wonderful guarantee! Your prayers do not have to be anything fancy. God is pleased with honesty, not impressed with formality. Just start today by telling God what is on your mind and asking him to speak to you through his words in the Bible.

You Can Talk to God Expecting an Answer

God has given his words in the Bible to teach you what his will is on many areas of life. You can pray with confidence when you pray according to his will.

“And this is the confidence we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we asked from him.” (1 John 5:4-15)

And, you can ask God what to do in other situations and believe he will guide you. Pray with humility, wanting to be dependent on him and learn from him.

“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

3. Developing a Life of Prayer

As a Christian, you can approach prayer as a conversation with someone who loves you dearly. As with any relationship, living in the Father’s love takes regular time together with him. Plan a daily time that works for you to have focused time with your Heavenly Father. Many Christians call this a “Quiet Time.” It helps to have a place with few distractions. Jesus, as our example, got away from the people surrounding him so that he could spend time talking to his Father.

Key Question: In your daily life, when could you carve out focused time to meet with your Heavenly Father? How would you minimize distractions?

You can start talking to your Father in the morning before you even get out of bed. For example:

“Good morning, Lord. Today, before I get going, I just want you to know I love you…and want to live for you today!”

“Lord, today, I am going to trust you to direct my paths as I choose to live my life your way.”

God’s Perfect Timing

Do not be discouraged by prayers that seem to go unanswered. God in his goodness may choose to delay the answer. Countless Christians will tell you stories of God’s faithfulness in answering prayers after many years of continual praying.

God delights in your bringing him your requests since doing so is an act of faith and obedience. Keep asking him for things that are within his will as revealed in the Bible. He promises to answer those prayers…still, in his time!

Remember to Be Thankful!

God has done so much for you that your heart should want to thank him in prayer and adore him because of his greatness and his unending love for you.

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

When you invited Jesus into your life, you began a relationship with God that is very personal and intimate. All relationships need good communication to be healthy. Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for you to talk directly with God as your Heavenly Father. He wants you to seek his guidance, comfort, peace, and companionship always…not just when you want things.

And, he is a God you can know. Because of this, you can think about him rightly as you pray.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Review Memory Verse 3 – Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – Hebrews 4:16.

Memory Verse 4

“Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “Prayer – Living in the Father’s Love”

Review these truths about your Heavenly Father. Make them part of your life as you learn to pray while living in your Father’s love.

  • God is sovereign: When you talk to your Father, approach him with humility and respect for his absolute authority.
  • God is all-powerful: When you talk to your Father, humbly realize he can do anything. And, although he cares about every detail in your life, think about how small your problems are compared with how awesome he is!
  • God is present everywhere: When you talk to your Father, remember that wherever you go…he is already there. Even in the worst situation or location, he is not blocked out.
  • God is all-knowing: When you talk to your Father, think about how he knows what is going on deep in your heart. And, he knows what is best for you!
  • God is good: When you talk to your Father, remember that he is good all the time—in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what he allows or does not allow into our lives.

So, begin talking to your awesome Father!

Getting to Know Christ

Continue reading through the gospel of Mark to get to know Jesus better—reflecting on his life, his relationships, and his teaching. Also, begin to pray regularly to your Heavenly Father. Consider praying for specific issues in your life, for friends and family you desire to know Christ, and for your personal spiritual growth. As you read God’s Word, you will want to talk with him more. To help you develop your time with God, a “Day 6” reading is now added. 

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 6:30-56. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 7:1-23. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 7:24-37. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 8:1-21. Reflect on what you read—

Day 6 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 8:22-9:1. Reflect on what you read—

Days 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 5. Your New Life in Community.”

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

5. Your New Life in Community

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

What a privilege it is to enjoy fellowship with God through prayer. It is also a privilege to enjoy fellowship with other believers in God’s awesome family on earth—the Church.

What is the Church?

“But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.” (John 1:12-13)

Yes, the moment you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit placed you into a new family called the Church. The Church is spread across the whole world and made up of every culture and language—all believers alive on planet earth. It is not limited to a building, just as a natural family is not limited to their house. As Christ is the head of this family, all members are considered part of the Body of Christ. And, this family of God’s own children is given an amazing purpose—the privilege of showing the world who God is.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The Local Church 

While you are part of the universal Church, God wants you to be part of a local church family. It is like having relatives all over the world but living with your immediate family. A local church is a group of believers committed to worshiping Christ, teaching his Word, supporting each other as you follow Jesus together and proclaim the good news to others.

Key Question: Why do you think it would be important for you to spend time with other Christians?

Discover the benefits of life in this new community…

1. The Benefits of Community

“And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Just as logs burn more brightly when placed together, so Christians need each other for warmth and encouragement. The local church provides opportunity for us to enjoy this community. You will see that the benefits are mutual.

Growth. Read Ephesians 4:11-14. Pastors and teachers help you grow in your Christian life as they feed you the spiritual food of the Bible and help you to know God better. In what areas of life do you feel tossed about by every wind of teaching?

Protection. Read Acts 20:28. Just as a house keeps people protected from harm, a good local church community can keep Christians safe from false teaching. Leaders that stay true to the Word of God will encourage the church community to stay true to God’s Word, also. Would you be able to recognize false teaching on your own?

Love for Others. Read John 13:34-35. Being part of a church family helps you learn how to love others and their differences. As we do so, we model his love to the world. Why do you think Christians loving one another would be such a powerful witness?

Spiritual Gifts. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 and Ephesians 4:16. God has given you spiritual gifts to benefit your church family. A local church family can help you discover your gift and learn how to use it to strengthen the Body of Christ. Whether God gave you the gift of singing, teaching, or giving, that role is a crucial one for healthy functioning of the Body of Christ. How do you think someone discovers her or his spiritual gift?

Key Question: Did you know that you are meant to play a crucial part in God’s family?

2. Finding Community in a Local Church

God knows you need the guidance of a pastor, the care of other Christians, and the safety and support of a good church to help you grow as a Christian. What makes a good church? No church is perfect just like no family is perfect. But, as stated on the first page, a healthy church is committed to certain things. Look for a church that …

Worships Christ

A healthy church presents Jesus as the Son of God and faith in him alone as the only way to be saved from your sins and have a relationship with God. 

Teaches His Word as Truth

A healthy church honors the Bible as God’s Word, completely true, and the guidebook for life and decision-making.

Grows Believers to Follow Jesus Together

A healthy church encourages you to personally follow Jesus as his disciple and grow stronger in your faith—what you read in Ephesians 4:11-14 earlier in this lesson. When you are joined together with other believers who are growing in Christ, you each encourage one another and keep each other “fired up” in your mutual faith.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Encourages Believers to Proclaim the Good News

A healthy church is actively obeying Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 to share the good news about Jesus with those who don’t know him yet. This is the main purpose of the worldwide Church—to tell others about Jesus that they, too, may be saved and added to God’s family.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19)

Key Question: Do you feel personally included in Jesus’ command to tell the world about him and make disciples in all nations?

Pray and ask God to help you find the local church he wants you to join. He has promised to provide for you, so you can trust him to answer your request. When you find a healthy church that is committed to the four values listed above, thank God! Ask him how you can serve there.

3. Living as Part of the Family

Enjoying community as part of a church family is called fellowship (from the Greek word meaning “sharing in common”). The sharing of our lives requires sincere love, kind speech, continuing encouragement, heartfelt forgiveness, and selfless generosity. All these qualities are possible because of the Holy Spirit living inside each member and binding us all together.

Relationships among believers should be marked by love for each other, which is the very thing that attracts those who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Jut as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus knows our hearts. He knows the difficulty we all have at times with one another. Our relationship with him does not prevent us from experiencing misunderstandings or differences of opinion. Sometimes these relational challenges tempt us to harbor grudges against someone with whom we differ or to isolate ourselves from the community. Neither of these is healthy for a believer.

Reconcile Relationships Quickly

Jesus helped his disciples through their conflicts with one another. By faith in Christ, we are not only commanded to love but are given his love to give to others. God’s Spirit enables us as we trust him to do so. We can say, “I can’t, Jesus, but you can through me.”

Read Matthew 5:23-24. How should we respond to a broken relationship with a fellow believer?

Stay Connected

One of the main reasons some Christians live defeated lives is that they have isolated themselves from other believers. Coming together with other believers in Christ’s name is similar to hot coals, which keep each other hot when lumped together. A coal that is separated from the others will soon grow cold. Isolation will lead to stunted spiritual growth and a lack of joy in your life.

Read Hebrews 10:24-25. Why is it important to stay connected to other believers?

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

You, along with all other Christians of all time, make up the Body of Christ, the Church. While you are part of the universal Church, God wants you to be part of a local church family. It is like having relatives all over the world but living with your immediate family. A local church is a group of believers committed to worshiping Christ, teaching his Word, supporting each other as you follow Jesus together and proclaim the good news to others.

You may or may not belong to a local church right now, and there is still a bit to learn about it all. But, take a moment now and thank God for adopting you into his family and giving you a new community in which to enjoy your new life.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Review Memory Verse 3 – Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Review Memory Verse 4 – Hebrews 4:16.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – John 13:34-35.

Memory Verse 5

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Jut as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “Your New Life in Community”

Review these truths about the benefits of life in a church family. Find and read the verses listed. Write observations of what you see and how you feel about each benefit. Learn to live your new life in community with other Christ-followers.

  • Your church community can help you to grow strong in your faith and to know God better: Ephesians 4:11-14.
  • Your church community can keep you protected from being swayed by false teaching: Acts 20:28.
  • Your church community can teach you how to love others and model Christ’s love to the world: John 13:34-35.
  • Your church community can help you to discover your spiritual gifts and learn how to use them to serve the church family: 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:16.
  • Your church community can be a source of encouragement to you: Hebrews 10:24-25.

Someone once said, “Believers are ‘Jesus in the flesh’ to one another.” It is truly awesome to “fellowship” with others who love Christ…and are living for him!

How to Get Started

  • Ask God to direct you to other believers 
  • Attend a Bible teaching and outreaching church.
  • Join a small Bible study and prayer group.
  • Use your gifts to reach others for Christ.
  • Look for mature believers who can disciple (mentor) you as you grow.
  • Ask God for someone you can disciple, sharing with her what you are learning.

Getting to Know Christ

Continue reading through the gospel of Mark to get to know Jesus better—reflecting on his life, his relationships, and his teaching. Also, begin to pray regularly to your Heavenly Father. Consider praying for specific issues in your life, for friends and family you desire to know Christ, and for your personal spiritual growth. As you read God’s Word, you will want to talk with him more.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 9:2-13. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 9:14-32. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 9:33-50. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 10:1-16. Reflect on what you read—

Day 6 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 10:17-52. Reflect on what you read—

Days 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how  to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 6. A New Life of Obedience.”             

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

6. A New Life of Obedience

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)

The entire Christian life is to be lived by faith, not works. Other religions force their followers to adhere to a list of rules to stay acceptable. Christians should want to obey God out of love and gratitude for how much God loves us and for Jesus paying the ultimate price for our sins. Yet, we cannot live an obedient Christian life in our own strength. We must live by faith in God’s promises in the Bible. By faith, we trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey what God wants for our lives. By faith, we learn to obey Christ and experience a life of freedom and joy.

The Forces Against You

The Bible teaches that in the Christian life, you will face enemies that will try to keep you from being obedient to Christ—the devil, the world and the flesh.

The Devil – Satan (a.k.a known as “the devil”) is a vicious enemy who will aim to keep you away from trusting in Jesus and the promises in God’s Word. His weapons are doubt and discouragement. Do not fear him. Jesus is stronger than he is. (1 John 4:4)

The World – The culture wants to conform you to its way of life. Its aim is to keep you focused on possessions, success and other substitutes for God. Choose not to be conformed to the world but transformed to Jesus’ way of living life. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Flesh – While we as redeemed and forgiven believers have new life in Christ, we retain our old bodies in which sin still dwells (called the “flesh” or “sinful nature”). Though born again of the Spirit, our bodies are not born again, and our souls (mind, emotion, and will) are not instantly transformed. It is through this part of us (the “flesh”) that sin assaults us.

Key Question: How much does the “flesh” improve over time? 0—25—50—75—100%

1. Conflict between the Spirit and the Flesh

The “flesh” does not improve over time. It is in continual conflict with the Spirit living inside of us. As a result, we never outgrow our need to depend 100% on Jesus Christ. Our choices can change over time as we learn to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. For simplicity, we will consider living by the flesh as letting your “self” control that part of your life as opposed to the Spirit controlling it.

Read Galatians 5:16-18. How does Paul describe this continual conflict?

Read Galatians 5:19-26. Contrast evidence of living by the flesh with living by the Spirit.

Self-Control Evidences

Spirit-Control Evidences

Read Colossians 3:5-15. Contrast evidence of the two different ways of living.

Self-Control Evidences

Spirit-Control Evidences

Living by the flesh is pretty ugly, isn’t it? Would you say there is a stark contrast between the two lifestyles? Actually, at any point in your life you will be living by the Spirit in some areas of your life and living by the flesh in other areas. The evidence reveals who you are trusting in—self or Christ. The Christian life is impossible apart from Christ himself. That’s why we are continually exhorted to live by faith in Christ, trusting in his Spirit to enable us to obey him.

Key Question: Which evidences of “self-control” in your life jumped out at you when you listed them above?

Jesus wants you to trust him to live by the Spirit in those areas.

2. Choosing Wisely as You Learn to Obey Christ

Sin is ugly, very ugly! Though we have an indwelling sin nature still with us that is at war against the Spirit, we are not left helpless in the midst of the conflict. God’s empowering presence in us—his Spirit—is a greater power than sin and enables us to win the battle over sin. But, we have a responsibility as well.

Read Galatians 5:16 and Romans 13:14. In order to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, what is our responsibility?

Read Titus 2:11-14. What does God’s grace present in his Word and his Spirit inside us do for us?

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. Temptation is not sin, but it can lead to sin. What does God promise regarding temptation?

Whether or not we are presently tempted in a given area, we are capable of committing any sin (disobedience to Christ) mentioned in the Bible, given the right set of circumstances, time and temptation. The progression is:

  • A received thought produces familiarity.
  • Continued pondering produces a loss of repugnance and, eventually, curiosity.
  • Desires, sometimes a total surprise, are generated to experiment. The most damaging or dangerous are the ones that blindside you with a desire you didn’t even know would affect you! So, protect yourself at all times through prayer, “Lord, protect me from myself!”
  • Having tried the activity, the flesh (like a goat) can learn to like, and even grow dependent, on any sensual stimulus.

Conclusion: We never outgrow our need to depend 100% upon Jesus Christ. Recognizing this should lead us to have compassion on one another (Galatians 6:1) and to not take risks with sinful behavior!

A habit is easier to maintain than it is to start. Faith can be a habit—a good habit. Make wise decisions to protect yourself:

1) Protect your mind. Desires of the flesh do not go away but are like a fire. They can burn hot or burn down, depend­ing on whether you are feeding them.

2) Don't play with fire. Make policy decisions to keep your distance from what tempts you.

Key Question: What decisions are you making or should you make to protect yourself from what tempts you?

3. The Biblical Way for Dealing with Recognized Sin in Your Life

Most of us cannot go very long without doing something that is a work of the flesh—whether intentional or unintentional. God understands this about us. All sin is covered by Christ’s work on the cross, forgiven before it is every committed. (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14) Living by the Spirit reveals to us through the Word and through prayer what is sin in our lives and helps our repentant hearts follow through with a desire for change. When you recognize sin in your life, use the following process to help you deal with it.

Step 1. View yourself rightly.

Your identity is not “_______” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever it is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “_____” (covets, is greedy, gossips).

Step 2. Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your specific sin.

To confess biblically means “to agree with God” about what you and he both know to be true. It is not a formula nor does confession require a mediator. It is not saying, “I’m sorry.” It is saying, “I agree with you, God. I blew it!”

For example: while reading Philippians 4:12, the Spirit convicts you that you have been coveting rather than being content. You agree with God that your coveting doesn’t fit someone who knows God. That is confession.

Step 3. Add repentance to your confession.

Repentance means to change your mind about that sin, to mourn its ugliness, resulting in changing your actions. It’s saying, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases you, God. Please help me to live differently.” He will certainly do that! That’s how our lives get transformed.

For example: You want to stop coveting and be content and grateful instead. So, you pray, “Lord Jesus, by faith I ask your Spirit to nudge me when I want to covet. Replace my coveting with contentment and gratitude.” That is repentance.

Step 4. Follow repentance with dependence.

Depend on the Holy Spirit inside you for that change to take place. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in our compliance (outward conformity) as much as he desires our obedience from the heart.

For example: Memorize Philippians 4:12-13 and any other scriptures that deal with being thankful for God’s provision. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging when you are tempted to covet. Choose to be thankful instead.

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

The Christian life is to be lived by faith. Christians should want to obey Christ out of love and gratitude for how much God loves us and for Jesus paying the ultimate price for our sins. Yet, we cannot live an obedient Christian life in our own strength. We must live by faith—in God’s promises in the Bible and in the Holy Spirit inside us who helps us obey what God wants for our lives. By faith, we learn to obey Christ and experience a life of freedom and joy.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Review Memory Verse 3 – Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Review Memory Verse 4 – Hebrews 4:16.
  • Review Memory Verse 5 – John 13:34-35.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – Galatians 2:20.

Memory Verse 6

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “A New Life of Obedience”

Do not be discouraged when progress in your Christian walk does not happen as quickly as you want. Christian growth is a lifelong process. God is patient with you and will never take his love away from you. Believe that the Holy Spirit will give you victory any moment you choose to obey him. Continue being obedient, living by faith and trusting in God’s promises even when you are going through trials and temptations. By faith, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome those trials and temptations. As we surrender our lives to him out of obedience, he conforms us into the likeness of the Lord Jesus.

Have you recognized specific sin in your life that you know is ugly in God’s eyes? Follow the steps given to live in freedom from the ugliness in that area of your life. In this way, you will learn obedience to Christ. Trust the Holy Spirit to give you victory in that area.

Step 1. View yourself rightly.

Your identity is not “________________” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever your sin is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “________________” (covets, is greedy, gossips, whatever your sin is).

Step 2. Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your specific sin.

Agree with God about what you and He both know to be true. Be specific about your sin.

Step 3. Add repentance to your confession.

Say, for example, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases You, God. Please help me to live differently.”

Step 4. Follow repentance with dependence.

Depend on the Holy Spirit inside you for that change to take place. You cannot do it on your own, but he can do it through you. Memorize a Bible verse that encourages you to live differently.

Praise God for how he works in your life in that area!

Getting to Know Christ

Continue reading through the gospel of Mark to get to know Jesus better—reflecting on his life, his relationships, and his teaching. Also, begin to pray regularly to your Heavenly Father. Consider praying for specific issues in your life, for friends and family you desire to know Christ, and for your personal spiritual growth. As you read God’s Word, you will want to talk with him more.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 11:1-19. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 11:20-33. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 12:1-27. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 12:28-44. Reflect on what you read—

Day 6 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 13:1-36. Reflect on what you read—

Days 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 7. “Sharing Your New Life with Others.”

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

7. Sharing Your New Life with Others

Related Media

TOGETHER LESSON

How did you first hear about Jesus? Someone told you, right? Did you know that you have also been sent by the Lord to reach others with the good news about Jesus? You and I as followers of Jesus Christ have the awesome privilege of sharing the good news of eternal life with others. There is tremendous joy in reaching out to those who do not know Jesus and introducing them to him so they can know him just as you now know him.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14 New Living Translation)

Tell the World about Jesus

This amazing task is called the “Great Commission.” It is what Jesus told his followers right before he left earth to go to Heaven. “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) When Jesus gave that command to his followers to go and make disciples, it was not to ordained preachers, hired church staff or organizations. He spoke those words to average, every day kind of people like you and I are. “All nations” includes your sphere of influence, wherever that is.

Think of it this way: Imagine you had cancer and were chosen to be part of a special test group for a new cure. The treatment cured all of your cancer completely free of charge. What is the first thing you would do after you were healed? You would want to tell all of the other cancer victims about this great cure! Well, sin is a cancer affecting every single person. And you have been cured—forgiven of your sins—by Jesus Christ. Do you remember how you felt before you believed in Jesus? Maybe you felt lonely, guilty, and without hope. The entire world is lost without Jesus. We are Christ’s ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) He has selected us to represent him and reach them with his love and forgiveness.

Key Question: Are you willing to be Christ’s ambassador to those in your sphere of influence? If so, tell God right now that you are willing.

1. The Gospel Is Good News

“Jesus Christ laid down his life for you so that he could give his life to you so that he could live his life through you.” (Ian Thomas)

Relating the good news to others takes two basic forms: your walk and your talk. As you grow in your relationship with Christ, others can see Christ by your walk (life). As the quote above says, Jesus living his life through us is one way he draws people to himself.

“In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

But, as we read at the beginning of this lesson, you must also tell the good news of the gospel so others may believe in Christ.

The Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ coming to earth to save us from our sins. If you have opportunity to tell someone one thing, tell her about Jesus.

  • Tell her that God loves her and wants a relationship with her. But, sin separates her from God’s love.
  • Tell her that Jesus is God, who came to earth as a man, and died for the sins of the world.
  • Tell her that she can be completely forgiven of her sins and receive eternal life with God solely by believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

That is the gospel. Anyone can share it, and everyone needs to hear it. Pray and ask God for an opportunity this week to share the gospel. A famous evangelist once said this, “Take the initiative to share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.”

2. Pray & Watch

You do not need to be an expert in the Bible or have years of experience with Christ to reach others for him. There are several ways you can share Christ on a daily basis.

The first and most important thing to do is to pray: ask your heavenly Father to lead you to someone who is open to hearing more about Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to draw people to Christ. Pray the following:

“Father, please send the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of ________ to draw her to Jesus and make her into a laborer for the Kingdom.”

Keep on praying that prayer as often as you think about or see that person, envisioning the Holy Spirit going to work in that person’s life, drawing that person to Jesus. Then you can ask the Spirit to open the door to have a conversation with her. Make an intentional date to spend time with her.

When you talk to her, ask good questions to determine if she is interested in spiritual things or whether she has already trusted in Christ as her Savior. For example:

  • What is your faith background?
  • What were you taught about God growing up?
  • Have you had a spiritual experience that shaped your life?
  • Have you ever read or been taught from the Bible?
  • How have spiritual values shaped your life?

You don’t have to make a complete presentation of the Gospel to make an impact for Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to someone who is open to hearing more about Jesus.

3. Share Your Story

If you trusted Christ recently, you remember what life was like for you before Christ came into your life. How did you feel? What triggered your need for Jesus? What did God use to draw you to him? That may be how God will use you to reach others for Christ.

Once you have established a relationship with a friend, and “earned the right to be heard,” pray for an opportunity to share your story—what Christ has done in your life. Be ready for openings in the conversation where you can share simple statements of what God has done in your life (including your weaknesses and need of him). Allow her a peak into the life you have in Christ. Encourage her trust and create curiosity for more.

Most people reject Christianity because they don’t “have a clue” what it is all about, or they misunderstand…and think it is just “religion.” They do not realize they are missing a totally awesome relationship with Jesus! The best way to share…so that they really understand what the Bible says…is to prepare a short version of your own faith story that includes the Gospel message in it—what you heard and believed.

You will get an opportunity to work on your story in the Personal Discovery Guide this week.

4. Ask for a Decision & Lead Her in Prayer

As the Holy Spirit leads, expect God to be working in her heart. Ask one of the following questions:

  • Does this make sense to you?
  • Would you like to accept God’s gift?
  • Would you like to trust in Christ now?

Tell her that she must personally trust in Christ’s death on the cross in order to receive God’s forgiveness for her sins. If she is ready for a decision, pray with her to trust in Christ. A sample prayer is:

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for all of my sins – past, present, and future. Thank you for giving me eternal life and wanting a relationship with me. I trust in you now as my Savior, and I desire you to be Lord of my life.”

5. The Next Step for Her – Establish Her in Her New Faith

Once a person has come to Christ, now you have the privilege and honor of establishing her in the basics of the Christian faith as you have now been established through this series of lessons. Schedule a time to start going through Graceful Beginnings with her. Soon she will be reaching her peers for Christ, too.

It is also vital that she get immediately “connected” with other Christians, preferably those who will have common interests and have been praying for her along with you. By joining a community of believers, she can learn from other mentors besides you.

6. The Next Step for You

To keep growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ:

  • Join a Bible study or small group where you can enjoy fellowship with others who are also learning more about this new life in Christ.
  • Keep telling others about Jesus and personally discipling them in the basics of the Christian faith using “Graceful Beginnings.”
  • Take the next step of growth through the “Graceful Living” study, available at https://bible.org/series/graceful-living.
  • Look for ways you can serve others in your local church or community.

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

— — — — — — — — — — —

PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

Christianity is Christ! It's all about a relationship with him. Jesus Christ gave his life for you by grace, so he could give his life to you by grace, so he could live his life through you by grace. Knowing Christ’s love for you and the presence of his life in you should motivate you to “live for him” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 2:20) and to serve him through serving others (John 13:1-15; Galatians 5:13-14; Philippians 2:1-4). Both are responses to God’s grace in your life. Another response is letting his life in you overflow to others around you, particularly those who need to know Christ.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Review Memory Verse 3 – Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Review Memory Verse 4 – Hebrews 4:16.
  • Review Memory Verse 5 – John 13:34-35.
  • Review Memory Verse 6 – Galatians 2:20
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – Romans 10:14.

Memory Verse 7

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14 New Living Translation)

Note: This week, you will do your reading on Days 1-5 and work on your faith story on Days 6 & 7.

Getting to Know Christ

Finish reading through the gospel of Mark to get to know Jesus better—reflecting on his life, his relationships, and his teaching. Consider praying for specific issues in your life, for friends and family you desire to know Christ, and for your personal spiritual growth. As you read God’s Word, you will want to talk with him more.

Day 1 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 14:1-31. Reflect on what you read—

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 14:32-52. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 14:53-15:15. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 15:16-47. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 16:1-20. Reflect on what you read—

From This Week’s Reading:

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

Days 6 & 7 Your Faith Story

“People love to hear stories…Telling your faith story is just that: your personal story about your faith. It’s an unobtrusive way to speak about the love of God in your life and the love he has for all people…Your life and story is the best tract to be written!” (The Disciplemaking Ministry Guide for Women in Leadership, “How to Share Your Faith,” page 21)

Use the following prompts to get you started. Then, choose the highlights to make a “Five-Minute Faith Story” that you can easily share when Jesus gives you opportunity.

Before you trusted in Christ

Although the tendency is to spend most of the time on your “before Christ” experience, only give enough information so someone else would know why you needed Christ in your life. Tell what you needed so that someone may identify with you.

Identify what your life was like.

  • What were your attitudes, needs, and/or problems?
  • To what source did you look for security, peace of mind, or happiness?
  • In what ways were your activities unsatisfying?
  • Find 2-3 words to describe what only Christ could fill or do in your life (e.g. loneliness, feelings of insignificance, anger, rejection).

Briefly share a personal example that captures the needs and attitudes from this time of your life as identified above.

How you came to know Christ (point of salvation)

Share when and how you first heard the gospel and/or were exposed to Christianity.

  • What brought you to the place of being willing to listen?
  • Who influenced you?
  • How and when did you decide to follow Jesus?
  • Describe how you felt, what truths you heard, what you thought about them, and how you felt after you made the decision.

Give the gospel in this section. Use 1 or 2 relevant scripture verses.

My life after knowing Jesus

Spend the most time on this.

  • What conditions before Christ has been satisfied by a relationship with him?
  • What does it look like in your life to have a relationship with Christ?
  • How long did it take before you noticed changes?
  • What are your blessings?
  • Where do you struggle?
  • How do you depend on him through those struggles?
  • What difference does having him in your life make during those times?
  • Emphasize what you have learned about God’s grace to you.

Briefly share a personal illustration that shows the wonderful difference that Christ has made in your life.

Wrap up by inviting the listener to trust in Christ as you did so she can experience a new life of freedom and joy!

NEXT TOGETHER TIME: Share your faith story with your Graceful Beginnings leader and listen to hers. Ask Jesus to give you opportunity to share your story with others in your life as well.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life

Acknowledgements & References

Related Media

The information in this Graceful Beginnings guide for new believers in Christ has been adapted from the following sources:

  1. Getting Started in Extreme Living by Bert Harned and Larry Chapman, accessed at www.extremelivingguide.com
  2. Graceful Living by Melanie Newton, accessed at www.melanienewton.com/GracefulLiving.html
  3. New Believers Guide accessed at www.godlife.com/new-believers-guide
  4. New Believer Study Guide available from Fellowship Bible Church, Waco TX, accessed at www.fellowshipbcwaco.org
  5. Bridges on the Journey by The Navigators

Is God Real? Evidence for God from Objective Moral Truth

There are several compelling arguments for the existence of God, and many of them are rooted in science (i.e. the Cosmological Argument) or philosophy (i.e. the Transcendental Argument). Sometimes these disciplines are foreign to our everyday experience, however, and not many of us are prepared to debate (or even describe) scientific details or esoteric philosophical concepts, especially as they might be related to God’s existence. Another set of evidences may be far easier to assess and communicate. Is God real? The presence of objective moral truth validates the existence of God and this evidence may be much easier to communicate to others.

We live in a world filled with moral truths and most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, believe these truths are more than a matter of personal opinion, evolutionary development or social convention. “Torturing babies for fun” is (and has been) morally repugnant regardless of the time in history, place on the planet, or identity of any particular people group. Moral truths of this nature transcend and precede us. We don’t invent or construct them, we discover them. Transcendent, objective moral truths such as these form the foundation of the Axiological Argument for the existence of God. “Axio” means the “study of values” and the Axiological Argument uses the existence of objective values or “mores” to prove the existence of God:

(1) There is an Objective (Transcendent) Moral Law
(2) Every Law Has a Law Giver
(3) Therefore, There is an Objective (Transcendent) Law Giver
(4) The Objective (Transcendent) Law Giver is God

If objective, transcendent moral truths exist, an objective, transcendent moral truth giver is the most reasonable inference.

Living in a world filled with moral choices, we often confuse description with prescription. It’s one thing to describe “what is”, but it’s another thing to prescribe “what ought to be”. Humans are good at the former, but have been historically uneven with the latter. Individuals and groups often allow their own selfish interests to color the way they evaluate moral truth. When this happens, we sometimes come to very different conclusions about the “rightness” of our beliefs or actions. When we disagree about the moral value of a particular action, we usually try to convince the other side to accept our position. But why would this be necessary if all moral truths come from individuals or groups? If humans are the source of moral truth, why should we consider one group’s values to be any better than another? When we argue for what “ought to be” we’re not simply asking someone to accept our subjective opinion; were asking them to see the “rightness” of the objective moral truth we happen to hold.

When a group of societies come together to discuss the moral value of a particular action (as is often the case at meetings of the United Nations), they are appealing to a standard transcending the group in an effort to convince any one member of the group. When one nation asks another to conform to some form of moral behavior, it’s not saying, “Do it our way,” it’s saying, “Do the right thing.” Our appeal to a particular behavior isn’t based solely on our collective, subjective opinion; it’s based on an appeal to objective moral values transcending our opinion. We can argue about the identity of these values, but we must accept the transcendent foundation of these moral truths if we ever hope to persuade others to embrace them. Nations may dislike one another and resist the subjective values held by other groups. That’s why we argue for the transcendent moral value of an action, rather than appealing to a subjective national opinion.

If transcendent moral truths exist, from where do they come? In the next few blogs at ColdCaseChristianity.com, we’ll examine the possible alternatives and make a case for God’s existence along the way. Is God real? The evidence from the existence of objective moral truth points to God as the most reasonable explanation.

Related Topics: Apologetics, Theology Proper (God)

15. God Conquers Drifting (Judges 20:12-21:25)

Related Media

Judges: A Drifting People, A Delivering God (part fifteen)

Judges records our delivering God rescuing His drifting people…over and over and over again. As the series draws to a close, we see Israel recommitting herself to holy living. This will require a difficult, honest examination of their own lives and relationships. It will also involve loving correction of others in order to protect the community's holiness. Where there is unrepentant sin, it must be dealt with from a position of brokenness. The community of saints today should not be so different. We must help one another identify any slow drift away from the Lord before we drift too far.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Church Discipline, Discipleship, Discipline, Failure, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Pages