You have just made the greatest, wisest, best decision you could ever make by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. But now what happens? Where do you go from here?
The next seven days can be the most important days of your life. You are starting a new life, and this will call for a number of changes. You will need help. This lesson provides you a plan of action for the next seven days. Each chapter covers one day. Please read the chapters carefully and follow through on the recommendations given.
The suggested Bible reading each day will take you through the Gospel of John during this week (it will take less than fifteen minutes a day). This Gospel was written to strengthen the faith of new converts.
The suggested Bible study at the end of each lesson takes very little time, and it will help you learn how to study the Bible. The total time needed each day is less than half an hour.
Do your best and God will help you!
– Pastor Jeff
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 1, 2, and 3
Just what has happened to you? That’s a good question, and an important one. Knowing what happened and what it means will help you the rest of your Christian life.
You felt conviction from the Holy Spirit and responded to the preaching of the Gospel, the word Gospel means good news. Then you prayed a prayer of repentance.
Now, what does it all mean? Let’s put it simply. Two things have happened:
- Jesus has become your Savior
- You have become a child of God
We call this salvation. Perhaps someone has already mentioned that now you are “saved.” Maybe you wonder what that means. Saved from what? Why did you need to be saved?
Three things are important for you to know:
- You were a sinner.
- You could not save yourself.
- Only Christ could save you.
The Bible says, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). That includes you and me. The Bible also says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This kind of death is spiritual and eternal.
We cannot save ourselves from this death by our good works, by church membership, or by trying to be good. The only way to be saved (there’s that word saved) from the penalty is to get rid of our sins.
But something else has happened. You have become a child of God.
A child of God? What does that mean? Look at it this way. When you were born as a baby, you received natural life from your parents. Because of this you are like them, you have many of their characteristics.
When Jesus became your Savior, He brought to you new life, spiritual life, life from God. The Bible calls this the new birth (John 3:3). By your first birth you became a child of your earthly parents; by your new, or second birth you have become a child of God, your Heavenly Father.
This is important! You now have two natures: (1) The old nature you received when born the first time. This we can call the self-life. (2) The new nature you received with the second birth. Since Jesus Christ is now living in you by His Holy Spirit, we call this new nature the Christ-life.
As far as your second, or Christ-life is concerned, you are a newborn. You have received a new life, but it’s just the beginning.
During these next few days you will begin growing in your Christ-life. These will be very important days. You are establishing the pattern for the rest of your life. You are determining the kind of Christian you will become. As you follow each suggestion, you will begin to mature as a Christian.
Bible Study for Today (Answer in Your Own Words)
John 1:12. What happens to those who receive Christ?
John 1:29 What did John the Baptist call Jesus?
John 2:5. What advice did Jesus’ mother give to the servants?
John 3:3. What is necessary in order to “see the kingdom of God?”
John 3:6. List the two kinds of birth:
John 3:16. How can we keep from perishing?____________________________________________________
John 3:36. What does a person have, if he believes on Jesus?____________________________________________________
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 1:12; 3:3; 3:16; 3:36
WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 4, 5, and 6
In Chapter 1 we established that you’re a spiritual newborn and that you need to mature. So where do you go from here?
It is tragic when, because of a physical affliction, a child fails to mature and mentally remains a baby all his life. It’s even more tragic when a person becomes a child of God through salvation and then fails to mature spiritually.
This doesn’t have to happen to you. As you follow these suggestions, you can begin to become a strong, mature Christian.
First of all, remember that your spiritual life comes from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “He that hath the Son hath life” (1 John 5:12). (This is the Epistle of John toward the end of the Bible, not the Gospel of John.) The preceding verse says, “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). Christ lives in you. Don’t forget it.
Receiving life is not enough; you must feed that life. When a baby is born in the natural, it will die unless its parents take care of it. They must feed it and nourish its physical life so it will grow.
This is also true in relation to your new spiritual life. When you feed it, it will grow; when you neglect it, it will die.
It’s as simple as that. It depends on you. Now, what will cause you to grow spiritually? Here are some key recommendations:
READ THE BIBLE DAILY
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about the Bible. Your use or neglect of the Bible will determine the kind of Christian you will be. This is why we’re suggesting that you read three chapters each day this week. Get in the habit of reading the Bible every day. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We suggest that you download the Youversion Bible App on your smart phone, then pick a New Testament reading plan and listen or read it daily.
In Chapter 4 we’ll talk about the various kinds of prayer and how to pray effectively. The simplest way to describe prayer is that it is talking to God and letting Him talk to us. Make time every day to pray. For many people the best time is the first thing in the morning, before starting daily activities. Talk to Him as you would to a friend – for He is you best Friend. Don’t worry about using the right words. God is more concerned with your attitude than with your vocabulary.
Tell others about what has happened to you. A witness is someone who tells others about something he or she has learned for him- or herself. If you have learned the Jesus can forgive, let others know about it too.
Witnessing is inviting people to get acquainted with Jesus. Let them know how wonderful your new Friend can be to them. Witnessing will make you a stronger Christian.
STAY FAITHFUL TO CHURCH
If you take a live coal from the fireplace and put it by itself, it will soon go out. In the same way, Christians need the encouragement of other Christians. Listening to the pastor and other mature Christians preach and teach the Word of God, praying with others, singing together, making Christian friendships – these will help you to grow (Hebrews 10:25).
ATTEND NEXT STEPS
Next Steps is held each Sunday morning at 10:45 AM. There are 4 classes that can be taken in any order, those classes are called, Connect – Serve – Grow – Lead. This actually explains what we would love to see happen in your life as you grow spiritually. Connect to God and the Church, serve God and others, grow spiritually and eventually lead others to Christ. In Next Steps you will learn about the importance of being Baptized and have an opportunity to sign up. We are not saved because of baptism, we get baptized because we’ve been saved by our faith in Jesus. Baptism is very important and is a public act declaring your faith in Jesus.
JOIN THE FOUNDATIONS GROWTH GROUP
Foundations is a small group that happens each semester at Crossroads. It will help you develop a foundation for your future life. You will also have to opportunity to meet some great leaders and other new believers that are on this journey with you. You will learn how to pray, how to study your bible, how to live out your faith. In foundations you will study many of the topics you’re reading about in What Now, but it’s much more detailed and the leadership will answer questions you have along the way.
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 4:10. What did Jesus offer to give this woman? ______________________________________________________________________
John 4:14. What will be the result if a person drinks of the water Jesus gives? ____________________________________________________
John 4:24. How are we to worship God? ________________________________________________________________________________
John 5:39. What advice about the Bible did Jesus give? ____________________________________________________________________
John 6:35. What did Jesus call himself? ________________________________________________________________________________
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 4:14; 5:24; 6:37
HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 7, 8, and 9
As mentioned in chapter 2, the Bible is one of the best ways by which a person can grow spiritually. There are five ways to make the Bible a part of your life.
HEAR THE WORD
The Bible is often called “The Word” because it is God’s way of communicating with us. We use our words to express ourselves to others. God uses the Bible to express Himself to us.
Because hearing is one way of receiving the Word of God into our lives, it is important that you form the habit of attending church services as often as possible. There you will hear the pastor and other mature Christian believers preach and teach the Word of God.
Form the habit, too, of sitting near the front of the church, so you will not be distracted. Always take your Bible or your smart device and look up the passages the speaker refers to. Take notes; it will help you remember helpful points.
READ THE WORD
Another way to get the Word of God into your life is to read it regularly. The kind of habits we form determine our character and one of the best habits you can form is to read the Bible every day.
Set a reasonable pace for yourself. Start by reading fifteen minutes in the morning and perhaps the same amount before going to bed at night. Carry a New Testament and read it during lunchtime.
You may want to use a Bible in which you can underline with a pen and perhaps write notes in the margin.
Also, remember to download the Youversion Bible App, it is a great resource.
STUDY THE WORD
Studying the Word takes more time but is a valuable exercise. A little later in this chapter you will find helps on this. For studying you will need a longer period, an hour at least – perhaps some evening you have free.
MEMORIZE THE WORD
Notice that each of these suggestions becomes more challenging. But memorization is one way of obeying the verse, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart” (Psalm 119:11).
Start with some of the verses listed in each chapter. First, look at the various parts, noticing what each means. This is very important. Then notice the important words. For example, in Psalm 119:11 the important words are “word,” “hid,” and “heart.” Memorize the references too.
MEDITATE ON THE WORD
After you have heard, read, studied, and memorized the Bible, you have something to meditate on. In the many spare moments during the day – working around the house, waiting for an elevator, driving down the street – you can put your mind in gear and meditate on Bible verses you learned. If you can’t sleep at night, try thinking about a passage or verse from the Bible.
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
There’s nothing mysterious about the Bible. Just think of it as God’s way of talking to you. However, this outline will help you understand any part of the Bible, long or short.
Points: What does this passage or verse say? What are the various parts? What are the subjects it speaks of?
Problems: What does this verse of passage say that you don’t understand? Write down the problems and find the answers later, by your study or by asking another Christian.
Parallels: What similar thoughts are found elsewhere in the Bible? The more you study, the more help you will have here.
Promises: What blessings and helps are stated or implied?
Perils: What warnings do you find?
Precepts: What commands are stated or implied for you to obey?
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 7:17. What attitude will help a person to know if certain teachings are true?
John 7:37 – 39. What happens to the one who believes on Jesus?
John 8:31. How can we really be Jesus’ disciples?
John 8:32. What will the truth do for people?
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 7:37; 8:12; 8:32
HOW CAN I PRAY EFFECTIVELY?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 10, 11, and 12
If the Bible can be compared to food, because it nourishes our spiritual lives, then prayer can be compared to breathing. There are two parts to breathing – inhaling and exhaling. So it is with prayer – talking to God and listening for His response.
The person who said, “I can’t find time for prayer,” was correct. You must make time for it. A good way is to do it along with your Bible reading. In fact, when some truth grips your heart, you may want to stop for a few moments and pray about it.
A consistent prayer life is characteristic of a solid, mature Christian.
WHAT TO PRAY ABOUT
What to pray about is one of the first problems you’ll meet. You think of your family, your friends, your associates, your own needs – and in five minutes you’ve run out of subject matter. One way to solve this problem is to aim your prayer in certain directions, a different direction each day. Page 36 of this booklet has suggestions for doing this.
KINDS OF PRAYER
Another solution to the problem of what to pray about is to recognize that there are several kinds of prayer. Basically, it is simply talking to God.
Praise: This is similar to thanksgiving but deals with Who God is instead of what he has done. Sometimes you can use one of the Psalms, reading it aloud to express how your feel about who God is.
Thanksgiving: Prayer is not just asking. Don’t forget to thank God for what He has already done for you. In fact, this is a good way to begin your prayers. It builds your faith to remember what God has already done for you.
Petition: This means asking God to meet certain needs. Though some people never progress beyond the “gimme” stage, always asking God for something, there is nothing wrong with asking the Lord for His help. In fact, He encourages us to come with our needs.
Intercession: You may become gripped with the need of someone else and feel burdened to keep on praying until you have the assurance that God has answered your prayer. This is intercession, one of the greatest kinds of prayer, for in it you are thinking of others. We need more of this kind of prayer.
Take a few moments to carefully read the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9 – 13. See if you can identify the different types of prayer in this model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.
HOW GOD ANSWERS
This is an important lesson to learn: God answers every prayer. Sometimes He says, “Yes,” sometimes He says, “No,” and often He says, “Wait.” But time spent in prayer is never wasted. You see, even more than what He does for you, God is interested in what He can do in you. Prayer changes you.
PRAYING IN PUBLIC
Sooner or later, someone will call on you to lead in prayer. Don’t panic. Simply remember that you’re praying to the Lord, not to the people. Pray as a representative of the group and express what you think are the general desires in that meeting. Don’t worry about using exactly the right words.
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 10:11. Who is the Good Shepherd?________________________________________________________________
John 10:15. What has Jesus done for the sheep?__________________________________________________________
John 11:27. Who did Martha say Jesus is?_______________________________________________________________
John 11:40. What is needed in order to see God’s glory?____________________________________________________
John 11:42. How often did the Father hear Jesus’ prayer?____________________________________________________
John 12:32. What did Jesus mean by “lifted up?”_________________________________________________________
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 10:9; 10:10; 11:25,26; 11:40; 12:25; 12:32
HOW CAN I BE A STRONG CHRISTIAN?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 13, 14, and 15
As a Christian, you need strength to overcome life’s challenges and to serve the Lord effectively. You may feel inadequate. Good! You must recognize your need before the Lord can help you.
POWER FOR OVERCOMING
The first time you fail, you can expect the devil to tell you, “It’s no use. You can’t live the Christian life. You might as well give up.” This is one of Satan’s favorite tactics.
You may even feel defeated because you were tempted to sin – even though you didn’t sin. Remember this: temptation is not sin. Even Jesus was tempted.
Know Your Weak Points: As a new Christian, you might still be struggling with life-controlling issues. Perhaps these are habits that have had a powerful grip on your life – a bad temper, or some other weaknesses. Knowing where you are weak will help you know how to pray for God’s help. God understands your circumstances and will help you overcome those challenges as you place your trust in Him.
Cooperate with God: Rely on Jesus to help you overcome. A little girl said, “Jesus is stronger than the devil, so when the devil comes to the door of my heart, I send Jesus and when the devil sees Jesus, he goes away.”
Christ lives in your heart through His Holy Spirit, who is called “the Comforter,” meaning “one called alongside to help.” He will develop in you the nine fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22,23) which together are the character of Christ. Try underlining in John 14 and 16 the things which Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would do.
An obedient attitude will help. Obey the Lord when He suggests something to you. Listen to the pastor and other mature Christians. They can help you.
Cultivate a sense of the Lord’s presence. This is part of the abiding Jesus mentions in John chapter 15. Let your thoughts go out toward Him throughout the day.
Don’t Get Discouraged: You don’t need to give up, and you shouldn’t. A baby starting to walk often falls, but it mustn’t give up. Simply come to the Lord as you did the first time, asking Him in sincerity to forgive you, and go on.
POWER FOR SERVICE
Before He returned to heaven, Jesus left a very special promise with His followers. It is called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. You can read about the promise and the experience in
Acts 1:1 – 8; 2: 1 – 41. Jesus promised that He would baptize His believers in the Holy Spirit. As a result, they would receive power to witness unto Him. This happened on the Day of Pentecost and changed the lives of all who received. Ask your pastor to tell you more about this.
Jesus is the Baptizer: How do you receive? Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Believe that He will and wait patiently. He will keep His promise to you as He did for the apostles (Acts 2:39).
Stay Spirit-filled: The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all experience. As you continue to stay close to the Lord in prayer and reading His Word, you will receive from Him more and more of His life and blessing.
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 13:34 – 35. What was Jesus’ new commandment?____________________________________________________
John 14:6. What is the only way to come to God?____________________________________________________
John 14:13,14. What is the secret of receiving answers to our prayers?____________________________________________________
John 14:15. How do we show our love for Jesus?____________________________________________________
John 14:27. What has Jesus promised to give us?____________________________________________________
John 15:5. Who has Jesus promised to give us?____________________________________________________
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 13:35; 14:6; 14:14; 14:27; 15:5
WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF ME?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 16, 17, and 18
In John 16:13, you will read that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth.” This truth includes blessings and responsibilities.
It’s all a part of growing up spiritually. In the natural, a child has few responsibilities. But as he matures, he should assume more responsibilities. Let’s review some spiritual responsibilities.
MAKE CHRIST THE MASTER
To express their loyalty to Jesus when He was living on earth, His disciples often called Him “Lord” or “Master.” Jesus accepted this position and said, “If ye love me, keep my commandment” (John 14:15).
As a believer, you now belong to Christ. You did belong to Satan, but Christ bought you with His blood. When we realize how much Jesus has done for us, how He died for us, how He saved us from hell, we are glad for opportunities to show our love for Him by obeying Him.
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 16:7. Why was it necessary for Jesus to go away? _____________________________________________________________________
John 16:13 – 15. Tell two things the Holy Spirit will do. ________________________________________________________________________
John 16:33. What will we have in the world? ______________________________________________________________________________
John 17:9. What is Jesus doing for us? __________________________________________________________________________________
John 18:38. What did Pilate say of Jesus? _______________________________________________________________________________
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 16:24; 16:33; 17:3; 17:15
HOW CAN I KNOW THE WILL OF GOD?
Today’s Bible Reading: John 19, 20, and 21
How to know the will of God – that’s a big enough subject to write a book in itself. And it’s important. After all, if Christ is now your Master and you want to obey Him. You must know what He wants you to do.
WHEN IT’S A MATTER OF CONDUCT
It’s obvious the Bible doesn’t cover every detail of modern-day living. But of one thing you can be sure: the Bible contains principles that cover every situation. Below are some pointers that you will find helpful. As you read the Bible, you’ll find other principles.
Avoid Legalism: Acts of sin must never be condoned; however, in matters about which the Bible is silent, God deals with people as individuals. Don’t expect everyone to fit into your mold of what rules of laws you think a Christian should obey (see Matthew 22:34 – 40).
Consider Others: Some things which you find acceptable might cause another Christian to fail. The apostle Paul once said that if acting a certain way would cause another Christian to stumble, he’d be willing to never do it again, even though he saw not wrong in it Himself (see Romans 14).
Glorify God: You are now Jesus’ representative in the world. Live to bring glory to God.
There are many principles, of course, but the most important is to be guided by your love for Jesus. Ask yourself, “Will this be pleasing to the Lord?” If you make the ruling question your decisions, you won’t go far in the wrong direction.
WHEN MUST YOU DECIDE WHICH WAY TO GO?
Sometimes we must choose a course of action among several options – all of which are pleasing to God. How can you decide which is best?
Be Patient: A Bible verse states, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” Learn to wait on God until He indicates His will to you. Time has a way of working things out. Don’t be rash.
Seek the Advice of Others: Don’t be a “loner.” Let your pastor or some other mature Christian be your confidant. Be sure it is someone who will keep your confidence. Someone who is not involved in the problem can see the various angles of the problem more clearly than you can.
Commit the Matter to the Lord: A famous Christian, George Müller, used this method: He would list the reasons for and against a certain course of action and prayerfully consider the matter for a time. Then he would decide to move in a certain direction. He would remove from his mind as much of his own desires as possible, then ask the Lord to block his path if it were not God’s will. Over a period of fifty years he found this approach successful.
GETTING ALONG WITH OTHERS
Getting along with others is one of the most important aspects of Christian living. If you haven’t learned this yet, you will soon discover that Christians are not perfect. As in your case, God is trying to develop their character, to make them like Jesus.
Some people you will like instinctively; others will not be particularly attractive to you. Just remember this: there are traits in you also which may not be especially attractive to some.
The most important gift you can ask from God is the gift of love – for God and for others. Love includes all the other traits God wants to develop in you. Love will keep you walking close to the Lord. Love makes you considerate of others. Love causes you to witness to others about the love of Jesus Christ. God can even give you a love for those who seem impossible to love.
BIBLE STUDY FOR TODAY
John 19:7, 8. Why was Pilate afraid?____________________________________________________
What phrase, repeated in John 19:24, 28, and 36, shows that Jesus’ death was planned?____________________________________________________
John 20:7. What item did Peter notice particularly in the tomb?____________________________________________________
John 20:31. Why was the Gospel of John written?____________________________________________________
John 21:15. What important question did Jesus ask Peter?____________________________________________________
John 21:22. How did Jesus answer Peter’s curiosity?
GOOD VERSES TO MEMORIZE
John 20:21, 20:31
Well, the first seven days are over. How did you do? Now what about the future? Let’s reemphasize some points and consider a few more tips.
Bible Reading: Read the Bible every day and all the way through once a year. It will take only ten to fifteen minutes a day. Read the Gospel of John through two more times at least; then start at Matthew and read through the Book of Acts. Now read the story portions of the Old Testament (your pastor can help you identify which stories), beginning with Genesis and read through the whole Bible.
Prayer: Prayer is the lifeline of your spiritual life. Think of God as a Great Friend you can confide in. Talk to Him about your victories as well as your needs.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Seek God to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is your Counselor and Friend who comes alongside you to help.
When You Fail: When you fail, ask God for forgiveness, just as you did the first time. He will never give up on you. But determine by His help not to fail in the same way again.
Be Baptized in Water: The Lord has commanded water baptism. It is one of the ways you can give a public testimony to your conversion.
Become a Giver: Give ten cents out of every dollar you earn to the church you have made your church home. This is known as the tithe.
What Now? It depends on you. By following these suggestions, you will begin to mature spiritually.