1. Make sure you are saved
God wants you to have assurance that you are saved. The apostle John wrote:
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)
There is only one requirement for salvation – faith in Jesus Christ. Believe in him. That’s all you need to do. You are not saved by belonging to a particular denomination or church. You are not saved by being baptized. You are not saved automatically because someone in your family is saved. You are not saved by doing good things. You are saved by faith alone in Christ alone for salvation.
2. Tell Others
Once you are saved, Jesus says:
“You will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
You are a witness for Jesus by your words and your actions. You don’t have to have all the answers before you can tell someone what you know and have experienced, just tell others what you know you about Jesus and how you have experienced God’s love and forgiveness through him. Don’t argue with people, share with them.
3. Establish Daily Bible Reading
A healthy baby has a healthy appetite. If you have truly been “born” of the Spirit of God, you will have a healthy appetite. The Bible says:
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)
Feed yourself every day on the Bible. Job said:
“I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12)
Each day, find somewhere quiet, and thoroughly soak your soul in the Word of God. There may be times when you read through its pages with great enthusiasm, and there may be other times when it seems dry and even boring. But food profits your body whether you enjoy it or not. The important thing is not how long you read the Bible each day but that you do it consistently each day. Set aside a time where you can get alone, just you and God, and take these steps consistently:
- Pray for God’s understanding (Psalm 119:18). Ask God to prepare you to meet with him. If there is something in your life that you know displeases him, confess it and ask his forgiveness. There can be no fellowship with God with unconfessed sin. (Ps.66:18).
- Read the passage of Scripture – perhaps a chapter or two. It is a good idea, if you aren’t familiar with the Bible, to start in the New Testament.
- Meditate on it for a while after reading the passage. Look for a revelation about God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. Think about how God wants you to respond in light of what you just read. Is there a promise to claim, an example to follow, a warning to heed, a lesson to learn, or a command to obey?
- Pray again. Thank God for what he has taught you from the passage that you have just read and meditated on. Pray with thanksgiving for the day ahead, and the people you will meet.
4. Develop a Prayer Life
Getting to know God better means spending time talking with him just as we would get to know a friend. Prayer is simply talking with God and enjoying him. Prayer is not bringing our shopping list of things we want to God, rather, it is having a conversation with our loving heavenly Father who desires to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11) Here are a few guidelines to prayer:
i) Be Specific
Pray for specific things, specific people, and specific circumstances. It is a good idea to write down your prayers. This way when God answers them, you’ll be able to see clearly the link between your prayers and his activity. This will strengthen your faith.
James 5:13-18 says,“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
This is all about specific prayers for specific occasions. The more specific we are in our prayers, the more clearly we will see God’s answer to those prayers. Often we pray, “Lord bless so and so. Or please be with so and so.” What are we really asking? Not much. You see, when dealing with others, we are usually specific, why should it be any different when talking to God?
ii) Be Confident
Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
We are told to approach God’s throne with confidence because God’s throne is called a “throne of grace”. In other words God is compassionate, gracious. We will receive mercy, and God will give us what we need to help us in our time of need. The confidence is not self-confidence, it is confidence in God’s compassionate, generous, and merciful nature.
iii) Be persistent
Jesus once told a parable about a persistent widow as an example of how we are to persist in our prayers (Luke 18:1-8) The one who doesn’t stop asking will eventually receive, the one who doesn’t stop seeking will eventually find, the one who doesn’t stop knocking will eventually had a door opened. Please don’t misunderstand me. We don’t always get what we asked for. We will always get an answer, but it may not be the answer we want. But, if we don’t persist in prayer, we may never get an answer at all to our prayers. Maybe you’ve been persistent in some kind of prayer and haven’t seen any results yet. Remember that ultimately, we must be prayer that which is in accordance with God’s will (1 John 5:14; James 4:13-15). The thing to remember is that Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.
iv) Pray in faith
Jesus said, “Have faith in God…I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:22-24)
Notice that Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” Effective prayer is built upon a committed and unswerving faith and trust in the Lord himself. What a great promise this verse is. You might say, but I don’t have this kind of faith. But the Bible says:
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)
Faith comes as we take hold of God’s promises and God’s truth in Scripture and dare to belief it and put yourself on the line believing. Faith comes as God himself speaks those promises to us and we respond.
5. Join a Church
It is not God’s Will that you live the Christian life on your own. A Christian who isn’t connected to a local church is like a child without a family. 1 Tim.3:15 and Eph.2:19 refer to the church as God’s family. God doesn’t want his spiritual children growing up in isolation from each other, so he created a spiritual family on earth for us. True believers in Jesus make up Christ’s Church (Matthew 16:18). He is the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Church is his Body (Ephesians 1:2-23). Find a local church where the Bible is taught as God’s Word, where believers worship with gladness and joy, and where there is an atmosphere of love. Avoid a church where you never hear the name of Jesus or where you are never encouraged to bring or open a Bible. Find a church that has small groups where you can meet other Christians and grow together.
6. Be Baptized
There are five reasons why you should be baptized once you are saved:
- Christ set the example (Matthew 3:15-16). Since he was baptized to fulfill all righteousness then so should we.
- Christ commanded it. It is part of Christ’s final orders to his Church to baptize those who become disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Baptism is an act of obedience to the Lord.
- Baptism is part of the New Testament Church belief and practice (Acts 2:38-41). It has been handed down from the first century.
- Baptism is an outward, public testimony. It is a powerful open witness that we have taken our stand with the Lord (Matthew 10:32).
- Baptism represents outwardly what has happened inwardly; namely, our sins have been buried and forgiven and we are living a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
7. Learn to Give Generously
Giving is important. In fact, 1/6th of the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and 12 of Jesus’ 38 parables have to do with money. God by nature is a giver. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
In the Old Testament God decreed that his people were to give a tithe – that is 10% of their earnings – to the Lord’s work. There are four reasons why Christians should aim to tithe and even move beyond it by giving more than a tithe:
i) Tithing honors an Old Testament principle of how God provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of the ministry (Numbers 18:20-21; Leviticus 27:30).
When we tithe today we honor a principle found in the Old Testament. Some of God’s people are called not to earn money in the ordinary way. They are called to be pastors and ministers and missionaries and ministry assistants, and so on. The rest of God’s people are to be gainfully employed and support the “vocational ministers and missionaries” — and the costs of that ministry. In the Old Testament God laid down that this be done by tithing. Jesus said to the religious teachers of his day:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23).
So, here we see Jesus endorses the tithing that was practiced in his day. He is saying basically, “don’t neglect it.” The rebuke is that the Pharisees were tithing but neglecting the more important things like justice, love, and mercy; Yet one might say that he is only talking to Jews in an essentially Old Testament setting. Maybe so. But there is another pointer that the principle was preserved in the early church.
The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 says, “But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
In other words he reminds the church that in the Old Testament economy there was this system in which the Levites who worked in the Temple lived off the tithes brought to the temple. Then he says in verse 14: “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” The least Paul is saying is that those who spend their lives in the service of the Word of God (pastors, missionaries, etc) should be supported by the rest of the body of Christ. But since he draws attention to the way it was done in the Old Testament as the model, it seems likely that tithing would have been the early Christian guideline, if not mandate, especially since the early church was largely made up of Jewish converts.
In other words when we tithe today we honor a principle and plan of God that sustained the ministry in the Old Testament and probably sustained the New Testament ministry as well.
ii) Tithing honors the Creator rights of God, who owns everything, including all our income
The Bible makes it clear that all our money belongs to God.
Psalm 24:1 says:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”
What you do with every dollar says something about your view of God and what he means to you, and what your values are in this age. And what you think your few years on earth should be spent for.
Giving God a tenth of our income does not deny that all our money is God’s, it proves that we believe it.
iii) Tithing guards us from covetousness
The last of the ten commandments says:
“You shall not covet.” (Ex.20:17).
Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of covetousness (or greed).”
And in Colossians 3:5 Paul calls covetousness “idolatry.” Which is also listed in Galatians 5:20 as one of the acts of the sinful nature. Paul warns that “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:21) The love of money comes at the expense of our lives. Every time you give a tithe, you must deal with the desire for what you might have bought for yourself. To give is not to buy. And that weekly crisis is utterly important to maintain. We must fight covetousness almost every day. And God has appointed a practical way of doing this: giving. He tests us again and again: what do we desire most — the advancement of his name or 10% more security and comfort and fun? As Jesus says:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Tithing guards us from covetousness.
iv) Tithing reaps blessings for us and others – material and spiritual
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Some preachers use this verse as a formula for getting rich. This is not at all what the verse is saying. Firstly, this verse is teaching that God will supply for all our physical and material needs when we are generous givers. The money that we give away is far from being lost; Just like precious seed which is cast into the ground is not lost, though it is buried there for a time, eventually it will spring up, and bear fruit; the sower shall receive it again with increase. So too in our lives. Giving in a regular, disciplined, generous way — up to and beyond the tithe – supplies for other people’s needs in ministry and God will certainly take care of us when we give generously to the Lord’s work (“having all that you need”)
This seems to be Paul’s way of expressing:
Malachi 3:10 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
This is an amazing challenge from God. Test me, he says. You think you can’t afford to tithe? Well test me. And what we will find when we test him is that we cannot afford not to tithe — and beyond! This is the only safe way to handle our money. Secondly, what this passage is teaching is that there are spiritual blessings that will occur through our giving. The money we give produces spiritual fruit. God’s kingdom grows, his work is built up, and we ourselves are storing up “treasures in heaven.” There will be spiritual blessings not only to others through our gifts but we will also reap great spiritual blessings ourselves (“all grace will abound” It is rather a guarantee that we will not be lacking for any need and for every good work that God calls us to do.
8. Start Serving
Jesus demonstrated that the most influential life is a life of sacrificial service. In the words of Mark’s gospel, Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Likewise, we believe that we will influence the world for Christ, when resting in, and motivated by His great love for us, we extend that love through our own hands and feet in acts of service to others. We are saved to serve and service happens when each person uses “whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)