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The joy you have experienced isn't the end in itself. It is a product of your new relationship with God through your faith in Jesus. You realise that your salvation didn't come by anything you did but it was a gift. God planned and initiated your experience of coming to know Him. Just as you have learnt that it is impossible to obtain salvation yourself, it is true also that it is impossible to live the Christian life without God's help. As you are dependent on Him for the forgiveness of your sins, so you are dependent on Him to live in victory and joy day by day. Joy comes continually as a result of this relationship of trust in the Holy Spirit's power within.
Christians in the past have lived under very difficult circumstances at times, but history and the Bible confirm that the believer experiences joy under all circumstances.
The Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament of the Bible concerning this experience:
Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesnt mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys -- we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us". (Romans 5:1-51)
Everyone is tempted so you can expect it. You will be now more sensitive than you were previously concerning the temptation of sin around you. Even Jesus was tempted when He walked the earth 2000 years ago. He must have experienced the battle in the mind which temptation occasions. But the Bible makes it clear that, while He was tempted, He never sinned. He forged the way ahead for us, so that we, who follow, can live in daily victory too. Temptation is the devil's business. He wants always to discredit a person's experience with Jesus if he can. The Apostle James made a startling statement when he said:
"Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust or desire and enticed". (James 1:14).
There is an important difference between temptation and sin itself. We are all tempted, and the enemy usually picks our weakest area of life as the target. However, temptation does not become sin unless we begin entertaining and receiving the wrong thoughts into our life. When an evil thought comes to mind it is important to know that the initial thought is not your own, but is the enemy presenting a temptation hoping that you will receive it. It is at this point that you take the victory by rejecting the temptation in Jesus' Name. If you will do this, you will find the Holy Spirit will be there to help you and give you strength to resist evil.
There is a promise right here at this point expressed in James chapter 4, verse 7:
"So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you"
An important thing to keep in mind is to stay away from the obvious areas, places and people, which would cause the greatest temptation. You are courting danger to flirt with temptation.
God gives you a wonderful promise, and victory will always be yours if you just live simply by His guidance: "But remember this - the wrong desires that come into your life aren't anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says.
He will show you how to escape temptation's power so that you can bear up patiently against it". (1 Cor. 10:13 Living Bible)
When you were converted you turned your life around. Now you must not stand still at that point, but begin to walk with God.
This means living day by day with Him and being led by Him. This is simple and exciting. The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in your heart by His Spirit, but He will control only that portion of your life which you yield to Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Christians about this:
"And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy - the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you". (Romans 12:1,2 Living Bible).
Because His Spirit now dwells in your body the only way He can express His life and love is through a person totally committed to Him. Don't expect the Holy Spirit to transform your heart-house if you refuse to let Him into all its rooms. I know you will want to be sure you have surrendered everything to Him, so here's a suggestion...take a number of slips of paper and write down on each piece the money you possess, your car or any possessions, your loved ones and lastly yourself. Have a short time of commitment to God and hand each of these over to Him - "here, Lord, is my bank account, my T.V., my car. I surrender them to you". When you surrender to God, you surrender to life and joy and peace. This is what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Your life will grow and develop as you communicate with Jesus. The Apostle Paul gives good advice in Philippians chapter 4 and verses 6 to 8:
"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."
Prayer is simply talking to God. You can talk with God at any time...in the bus, train, car or anywhere. However, it's a great idea to have a special place and a special time of the day when you draw aside into a secret place with Him, just to be quiet, to listen, to bring your problems and requests into His presence. Here is an important promise God has given to encourage you:
"But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father who knows your secrets, will reward you". (Matthew 6:6)
"Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done of them of my Father which is in heaven". (Matthew 18:19)
This is a special promise to any two people who will agree to pray in unity and faith together. In this way you can encourage one another to believe and be positive in your faith. It adds extra power to your life. There is unlimited scope in this kind of prayer. In the promise God says if you shall ask ANYTHING! Boy! What possibilities. God will do it from heaven. What a great experience to join the forces of heaven in seeing miracles in people's lives and circumstances.
In the Old Testament of the Bible there is a question asked:
"Is anything too hard for God!"
The answer to that is NO!
Also make sure you attend a prayer meeting to join with others in the family of God for prayer. Great things are being accomplished in the earth through the prayers of the Church. Be a part of it.
"Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about these things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it". (Philippians 4:8 Living Bible)
This is good advice. As you are daily looking to the Lord for guidance in your new life style, you will be conscious of God speaking through His Word as you read it, and also by an inner conviction in your heart that a particular thing is right. Obey this conviction for this is how you are learning to be led by His directions. There are many voices in the world, but the Holy Spirit's voice will never ask you to do anything that is sinful or that would hurt anyone, and never anything that is contrary to what He expresses in the Bible.
You must expect that sometimes people will fail you, but don't be discouraged. God is always the same and His character is absolutely reliable. When faced with a decision or a choice between two ways of conduct, always choose the high road - the way which is better, purer, more generous and honest. If there is any doubt about something, it is probably wrong for you.
The Bible is your most exciting book. It is the world's best-seller. Here in this one book (made up of 66 books) is the thinking of God about everything that matters. In the bookshops you will find many translations of the Bible. I recommend the New International Version.
As you read God's Word you will find you will be challenged to change. When you discover an area of your life that is contrary to God's way -- then you will want to change. This will add to the joy in your life. Reading the Bible will be like having a bath...it will bring with it a sense of cleansing and refreshing.
The Psalmist put it this way:
"I have thought much about your words, and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin". (Psalm 119:11 -- Living Bible)
We share God's life through His words and we find strength and authority to challenge and defeat the temptations of Satan. In Ephesians 6:7 we are told that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
Make up your mind you are going to read the Word of God every day. Start by reading the New Testament. Pray and ask God to speak to you as you read it. It's good to have a notebook or diary to write down the important lessons and points you get as you read. Also take note of those things God is asking you to do. There is great joy in obeying His instructions for they are producing the very life and character of God within us.
It is very important to find a spiritual home where you can receive instruction and fellowship to help your growth and understanding. You need to find a Shepherd, who is sometimes called a Pastor, an Elder, or Minister...someone you can look up to and entrust your life, who will be your spiritual father. Be loyal and faithful to that person and allow him to help guide you. If you find there are areas of your life you have not been able to gain victory over alone, share with your Shepherd. His counsel and prayer will help you. Remember God wants you to be completely free.
Jesus said: "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed". (John 8:36)
God wants to prosper your life and meet all your needs. One thing you will want to do now is to honour God in your giving of gifts to the work of God in worship, and to help extend His Kingdom so that everyone will have an opportunity, as you have had, to hear the good news of the Gospel. A good habit which is encouraged by God is to take a tenth of your income each payday and set it aside for God's work. This you take to your spiritual home and offer it in worship to the Lord with all the other believers. This is your way of expressing your love and thanks to God for all He has done for you.
God has given special ministry gifts to the church as instructors and teachers. They are called by five different names apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. You will learn to recognise these as you progress in the life of the Christian Community. They are God's provision for your help. You can read about them in Ephesians Chapter 4, verses 11-13.
Be sure to share your new life with others. This may bring reactions but God will give you wisdom and understanding in how to share with people. Remember, they need Jesus badly. Pray for them and realise that God is working even when the evidence seems to indicate the opposite.
You are part of a mighty witnessing army of believers around the world. There are literally millions turning to Christ and He wants you to have the joy of winning someone to Him also.
What a fantastic life you now have - enjoy it and enjoy God.
God bless you and welcome to the Family of God.
Go to Booklet Two
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Copyright © 1983, 1997 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.
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