So you’ve said the prayer of Salvation, accepted Jesus into your heart, and believe that He died on the cross to pay for your sins. And according to the Bible, you can do nothing else for the rest of your life and you will go to Heaven. But will you live a life of victory? Will you see God’s hand operating in your life? Will you continue to merely get through your life or will you enjoy the journey? I know which one God wants for you, but it’s a decision you need to make for yourself. As my Pastor says, “You can’t pay someone to do your pushups”. If you put a little effort into building a relationship on the decision you’ve just made, you can have an amazing, empowered journey that God intended for you to have. I’ve organized some steps to guide you into taking your Christian journey to the next level.
- Read the Bible Why should we read the Bible? There are several reasons but I’m just going to touch on a few. For one, there is a lot of misinformation and religious dogma that is not biblical at all. Many people, including “religious” people, spread this misinformation and if you don’t know any better you can gobble it up like everyone else. It’s important to read the Bible so that you can know what the Bible really says rather than someone telling you what they think it says. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have very strong opinions about the Bible and what it says but they’ve actually never read it (they’re just regurgitating what they’ve heard someone else say, quoting scripture out of context, or repeating dogmatic sayings that are completely unbiblical).
Another important reason to read the Bible is to empower yourself as a Christian. By reading the Bible, you learn God’s promises and strengthen your faith. If you don’t know what God’s will for you is, you can’t have the kind of faith you need to stand on His promises and really see a change in your life. When you do know God’s promises you can stand on those promises and use the Word as a weapon.
Reading the Bible can be intimidating. I started several times and barely got past the first book or two and then someone gave me a tip that changed everything! A friend told me to start in the Gospels. At the time I didn’t even know what the Gospels were. They are the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. They are very easy and interesting to read and they let you see how loving and gentle God is. After reading the Gospels it was recommended to me to then read Proverbs and Psalms and then to go back and continue reading through the rest of the New Testament before beginning the Old Testament. After reading through the Bible a couple of times I don’t really think that is necessary, you can just simply read through the rest of the New Testament in order before starting the Old Testament. Just remember, when you do get to the Old Testament don’t get too hung up on the historical documentation of things such as family history lists or detailed building instructions. The first time or two I read the Bible I completely skipped over those parts where so & so begot so & so (who begot so & so or where they had to have 5 gold strands of thread to make the purple curtains of the Tabernacle which was made of…). I didn’t want those areas to discourage me from reading through the whole chapter so I am giving you permission to skip them until you get through it at least once (shhh don’t tell anybody). Also, make sure you pick an easy-to-read version the first go around. I recommend starting off with the New Living Translation. Once you start to dive into the Bible a little more you can get into the Message or Amplified version which provide more detail & definitions. Then you can move on to the New King James version which a lot of Christians feel is the most accurate but probably a little more difficult to read. Also, as you become more experienced in your study of the Bible it would behoove you to get a concordance which will help you to understand the context of a particular word being used which will help you understand the translation better. One last tip, if you download the Bible app to your phone it has tons of plans that you can follow to read the Bible. I recommend OWNit365 New Testament (NT)+ Plan (it’s in the “Whole Bible” section of the Plans). https://www.bible.com/app
- Find a church with proper, Bible-based, teaching and join it (…another important reason to read the Bible for yourself. How else will you know if the church you’re going to preaches and is led by the Word and not by their own agenda?) You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian, but the right church will help you grow in the things of God. The Bible instructs us to go to church — “Don’t forsake the assembling together”. I watch or listen to church sermons on TV during the week but I do not consider that to be a replacement for church (perhaps I would if I was in a rural area and I couldn’t find any churches that I felt taught biblically) but there is something about gathering together in person that is more impactful than watching it on a screen. The right church will help you look at the scriptures in a new light and understand them in new way. My Pastor went to Bible school and he sat in in-depth classes and learned all these amazing things. I love when he explains how different the culture was in the time of the setting, so a detail that wouldn’t mean much to us today has a whole different meaning to the people in the story at that time. I would never know some of these things by just reading the Bible but when my Pastor explains the differences in cultures and the use of the originally translated word it brings a whole new meaning to the scripture. Here is a link to a sermon from my church that I think is an excellent teaching for new Christians to hear.
- Fitting it into your lifestyle. Those who know me know I’m all about multi-tasking or sneaking things into my routine. I love listening to Christian teachings while getting ready in the morning. I turn on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in the mornings or sometimes YouTube a Joyce Meyer sermon to play while I’m getting ready for work. You can also play a Christian radio station in your car: Way FM & K-Love are a couple of my local favorites. There are an assortment of Daily Devotional items such as desk calendars, apps, books, and study guides to keep you on track (find a local Christian bookstore since they’re loaded with these items). There are also scripture guides that will help you find scriptures specific to your situation to meditate on and declare over your situation. Joyce Meyer has an awesome list called “Knowing Who I Am in Christ”. Here is the link:
Another great way to take your new Christian journey to another level is to read (or listen to) Christian books or audiobooks. A couple of my favorite Christian books as a beginner were Me and My Big Mouth by Joyce Meyer & The Miracle of The Scarlet Thread by Dr. Richard Booker (this book was recommended to me by my pastor and will help you understand the Bible in a whole new way!).
- Worship. I remember growing up going to church and although I enjoyed singing the songs at the beginning of the service I really didn’t get why we were doing it. I think a lot of new Christians don’t really get what worship is all about. In fact, I’ve known some new Christians that would come late on purpose to skip the worship. Worship is SO powerful! Worship can be a weapon, worship can be a comfort, worship can deliver you right to the throne room of God! A woman on a Joyce Meyer’s commercial was quoted as saying, “When I worship it’s like I am reaching up and He is reaching down and we touch.” Most of the times I have FELT the presence of God was when I completely surrendered into worship. When you worship God you are lifting Him up above the problem and circumstance. I could (and probably will) write a whole other article about how incredibly important worship is. But for now, just get passed the weirdness and give worship a chance. Focus on the words of the songs and declare them as your own personal prayer or anthem. You don’t need to wait until church on Sundays, you can worship in your car or at home. Hillsong United is one of my favorite Christian bands and they have a huge variety of different styles of songs to please every ear.
- Ugh, I’m almost hesitant to put this one in here because I don’t want to turn any newbies off but I do want to share it because it is important and it is life-changing. WHEN YOU ARE READY, read up about tithing and consider regularly tithing ten percent of your income to your local church. I promise you once you do it, once you step out in faith and trust God with your income (what He’s already blessed you with) you will reap a blessing from God and you will realize that you can’t afford not to tithe. The Bible instructs us to tithe and it’s the only place in the Bible where God says you can test Him… so go ahead, test Him! God is not poor, He doesn’t need your money; He needs you to see how much you really trust Him. And if you really believe His word is true and that He is a rewarder and He is faithful then it shouldn’t be a problem to give it a try. Do it in faith knowing that God will meet your needs and will reward you for trusting in Him and watch what God can do!
A real quick testimony about tithing if you’re interested in my personal story…I had gotten laid off from a job when I had just been told a few days prior that I was going to be promoted. I was around 20 years old, completely on my own with no family to fall back on and nobody to call for help. I was working full-time to pay rent and going to school part-time to try and build a better life. It took me forever to get the full-time job I had because nobody wants to hire a part-time college student when my only skills were being a terrible waitress and sarcastic wit. I lost the only good thing I had going for me and I was terrified! I came home and with a face swollen from crying and I sent out over 30 resumes. That Sunday I went to church and, again crying hysterically, was discussing my situation with someone from church. The man I was speaking with told me I needed to take ten percent of my last paycheck and give it away to the church. I was like “No genius, I just told you I just lost my job and I’m all alone with no one to help me. That’s the exact opposite of what I need to do!” He sat there for a very long time explaining to me why I needed to step out in faith and trust God above my situation. I had gone to church all my life but I really didn’t know anything about tithing up until that point. I let the lunatic convince me to write out a check (for money that I needed for bills with no guarantee that anymore was going to be coming in any time soon). I prayed a desperate prayer and chose to believe God’s promises over my situation. I took a leap of faith and put the check in the bucket. And do you know what happened? I became homeless and destitute. No! I put that check in on Sunday morning and Monday morning I went to a working interview for a job that I ended up absolutely loving and that set me on a path to the career that I’m in now. You know what else? It was not from the resumes that were sent out. I did not get one single response for all my earthly effort. I received a completely unexpected phone call from my ex-boyfriend’s mom, who used to not like me. Someone that worked for her decided she wasn’t coming in on Monday…so guess who did? This chick right here! We ended up becoming great friends. After that day, I have always tithed faithfully no matter what and I would not wish to have one cent of it back! Trusting God and reaping His kind of rewards in my life is worth every penny (really it’s all His anyway). There are way better stories out there, but this is mine so there you go. But seriously, ask anyone who tithes faithfully at your church; I’m sure they have a great story as to why they are faithful tithers. So if you’re not convinced by my story, do a little research of your own, ask around and try it! (Okay, so maybe that wasn’t so quick.)
I hope this will get you started on your new journey as a Christian and to enjoying the life and the gift that Jesus died for you to have. Be blessed!