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Introduction

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The Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies are specifically designed for the new-to-the-Bible Christian—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you as an inexperienced Christian to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is the first study in the series, laying a good foundation of truth for you to grasp and apply to your life. The other studies in the series can be done in any order.

Some Bible Basics

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your life with Christ. The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. It 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 to mankind 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 New Testament 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 and chapter.

The Bible verses highlighted at the beginning of each lesson in this study are from the New English Translation ® (NET®) unless otherwise indicated. You can use any version of the Bible to answer the questions, but using a more easy-to-read translation (NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, ESV) will help you gain confidence in understanding what you are reading. You can find all these translations in Bible apps and online.

This study capitalizes certain pronouns referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—He, Him, His, Himself—just to make the reading of the study information less confusing. Some Bible translations likewise capitalize those pronouns referring to God; others do not. It is simply a matter of preference, not a requirement.

Grace Overflowing

The Grace Overflowing lessons will give you an overview of the thirteen letters of Paul found in the New Testament. Paul was a very well-educated and devout Jew and the author of more of the New Testament than anyone else. Jesus chose him to be an apostle to non-Jews everywhere, to teach the message of God’s grace to them. And, Paul understood God’s grace overflowing to his life so well because he desperately needed it.

In the first letter he wrote to his close friend Timothy, Paul describes how he had experienced God’s grace overflowing to his life.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV)

The Apostle Paul exclaimed that God’s grace is so abundant that it’s like a vessel overflowing or a stream overflowing a waterfall into a pool below. It covers and fills whatever is around and beneath it. The Apostle Paul looked at his own history, which was filled with horrid behavior, filled with what many would consider unforgivable deeds. You may have thought of your own life in that way.

Yet, God’s chose to extend His grace to Paul and show him mercy. Not just a little bit of grace. Abundant grace. Overflowing grace. Paul didn’t deserve anything but punishment and shame. God’s grace overcame that. God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him. It is God giving favor to someone, not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so. God chooses to have His grace overflowing to every believer from the moment of salvation. And, we continue to receive God’s abundant grace throughout our lives on earth.

You received this grace overflowing to your life the moment you trusted in Jesus Christ. And, God’s grace is overflowing to your life every day because you are in Christ.

Paul’s life was changed from the inside out. He became a beacon of Christ’s life shining through his own life. Christ displayed Himself through Paul’s life because grace overflowed into his life. Paul understood God’s grace so well because he desperately needed it for life.

The New Testament contains 13 of Paul’s letters. Eight of these letters Paul wrote to churches that he had started or had strongly influenced. He wrote five letters specifically to individuals—pastors and church leaders. Through the Grace Overflowing lessons, you will become familiar with the people receiving each letter, the challenges they were facing (similar to our own), and the “grace-overflowing” solutions God gave to them (and to us) through Paul.

In his letters, Paul presents Christ as everything we need for life. Our God wants us to learn to live dependently on His Son as we live out our daily lives. Paul teaches us how to do this through his letters. These lessons do not cover each letter in detail, but you will learn a simple phrase describing how each letter presents Christ as the answer to specific needs we have and how He meets those needs in our lives as we trust in Him to do it.

Trust Him to meet your needs. His grace is overflowing to your life. True joy!

Living Dependently on Christ

At the end of each lesson, we will include three things to help you make a fresh start in the right direction: “Bible verse to learn,” “Response in prayer & praise,” and “Getting to know Him more” readings.

1) Bible verse to learn

To renew your thinking and make part of your life as you journey on this adventure. 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.

If your Bible is a different translation from the one given in Grace Overflowing, feel free to memorize the verse from your Bible rather than what is given. The point is to begin a habit of memorizing Scripture. You will be surprised at how soon it just flows from your mind.

2) Response in prayer & praise

This will help you begin regular conversation with your God who loves you dearly. You will be encouraged to talk to God about anything and everything. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. He is someone you can trust. You will be encouraged to praise God for who He is and what He does. Praise is appreciation of God and giving Him credit for who He is.

3) Getting to know Him more

This includes Bible reading of selected portions of Paul’s letters highlighting what it means to live as a Christian and experience God’s grace overflowing to your life. Spend a few minutes each day reading these wonderful letters and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

What You Will Learn

The thirteen lessons in Grace Overflowing will cover these truths for you to know:

  • Romans: Christ is our righteousness.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22 (NIV)

  • 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God.

“But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24 NET)

  • 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

  • Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law.

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIRV)

  • Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church.

“God placed all things under Christ's rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.” (Ephesians 1:22 NIRV)

  • Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need.

“And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NET)

  • Colossians: Christ is Lord over everything.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

  • 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Christ is our returning Lord.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)

  • 1 Timothy: Christ is our mediator.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

  • 2 Timothy: Christ is the giver of crowns.

“Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NET)

  • Titus: Christ is our blessed hope.

“That's how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in all his glory. He is our great God and Savior.” (Titus 2:13 NIRV)

  • Philemon: Christ is the renewer of hearts.

“Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it.” (Philemon 20b NIRV)

Experience God’s grace overflowing to your life every day because you are in Christ, who is the answer to your every spiritual need. With joy, live dependently on Him.

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