Fresh start with god

We are so thankful you have started the journey of following Jesus Christ. Our goal is to help you get off to a great start. Like going on a hike, it’s best to bring what you need and prepare at the beginning of the trip.

When you received Christ as your Savior and Lord, you were given unimaginable spiritual riches “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 1:3–8 slowly and circle each way God has blessed his children.

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Which of these blessings is most meaningful to you? How does it make you feel? Let’s thank God specifically for doing that in your life.          

The closer you get to Christ, the more you will understand and be able access these blessings. Do not be like the person who has rich oil deposits on your land but never drills down to tap into them. At Compass, our goal is to help you understand what the Bible says you have in Christ.  

Let’s start with a diagram that illustrates the past, present and future aspects of your salvation. Let’s say this circle is your life before you came to Christ.
The lines represent thoughts and behaviors that fall short of God’s ideal for your life; in other words, your sinful patterns of thought and behavior. Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
The cross represents Christ. When you decided to trust Christ, you were placed into Christ. The perfect circle at the top of the cross is how God sees you, completely forgiven based on Christ’s death on the cross and “holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4).
The word for this is justification (to be justified). An easy way to remember this is that it’s “just as if I’d never sinned.” Jesus set you free from the penalty of sin. When God looks at you “in Christ,” he sees Jesus in all his righteousness.
The three circles on the horizontal part of the cross represent our current spiritual growth. This is called sanctification. This is possible through the Holy Spirit that He has given to us (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Spirit was given that you may experience the results of His presence and power in your life in the here and now (John 3:8).
Unfortunately, we all still have many of our old sinful thoughts and habits. The good news is that these will progressively be changed throughout our lives as we choose to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). When we trust and obey Jesus, His Spirit gives us the desire and power do what God wants you to do. Philippians 2:12–13 says, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” We work out our faith, while he works in our lives. This is an ongoing process that doesn’t finish until we die. Everyday, we must choose to cooperate with God’s work as He transforms us. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Your mind is renewed as you learn God’s ways and make choices to obey Him. These changes will not always be easy. It will be a fight. You will need all the help God provides to win these daily battles and break free from sin. On earth you will never be sinless, but you can sin less and less. Because of what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are free from the power of sin, which means you have the power to say no to sin and yes to what God has for you.

Commitment and spiritual maturity are different. Commitment is needed to walk in God’s power, but the change process takes time. You may be fully committed to following Christ but still have lots of growing and changing ahead of you. It is like being fully committed to learning a new language. You can be working at it but still make a lot of mistakes. The key is making progress. No one should expect perfection in this life. Are you aware of anything in your life that God may want to start changing?
The last part of the cross diagram is another perfect circle. This is our future salvation (1 John 3:2). The word for this is glorification. As Christians, we have the hope of perfection someday after we die or Christ comes back for us. In heaven, we will have no more tears or pain and will be free from the presence of sin.
Now let’s look at a picture of a compass. It points to four gracious gifts God has for us. Each gift is a practice designed by God to help you successfully make progress on your spiritual journey on earth. These practices are vital for you as you cooperate with God to become more like Jesus.
First, the compass points up to practice of prayer. What a gift prayer is. We get to talk to the God of universe and He actually listens to and answers our prayers. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16). God loves to answer the prayers of his people!

Start by simply thanking God for all He does for you. Then pray about anything you are going through, big or small. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Ask God for wisdom for your many choices in life (James 1:5-6). Pray for your daily needs and for God’s will to be done on earth (Matt 6:9-13). When you sin, ask God to forgive you and cleanse you, and renew your commitment to him (1 John 1:9). Don’t just pray for yourself; pray for the spiritual and physical needs of others also.

To develop the habit of prayer, I recommend committing a few minutes every day dedicated to prayer. Also, you can pray to God throughout your day whenever you think about it! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying.”  What is something you think may be God’s will that you would like to ask God for?

Next, the compass points to God’s Word, the Bible. Like spiritual milk, the word of God is our source of spiritual nourishment (1 Peter 2:2). Jesus said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Hearing the Bible taught regularly by someone you trust to teach it accurately is vital for every believer. Humbly listen, take notes and search the Scriptures personally to see if what is taught is accurate (Acts 17:11).

It is also helpful to develop a habit of reading or listening to the Bible on your own so you can feed yourself spiritually. In addition to getting an easy to read physical Bible, I recommend downloading the “YouVersion” app on your smart phone and picking out a reading plan that interests you. If you are not a big reader, they have audio versions you can listen to.

The Bible is also like a mirror. It tells you about your spiritual condition. Success, freedom and blessing from God comes from thinking deeply about it and doing what it says (James 1:22-25). Like a compass, the Bible directs, corrects and guides you on God’s path for your life (2 Tim 3:16-17). What’s your next step for getting God’s Word into your life?

The compass also points the God’s gracious gift of the church. God designed you to be a vital part of a local church. The church is the Body of Christ. Like a hand, you cannot survive spiritually for long without being vitally attached to the body. Plus, the body needs you (1 Cor 12:12-26).  

One of the most repeated commands in the New Testament is to “love one another”. You can’t fully love someone you don’t know and you can’t get to know others without getting together with them. “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25) Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  When you choose your friends, you choose your future. Why do you think participation in a local church is so important?

Finally, the compass points us to God’s mission. As followers of Jesus, life is not about us. Real life is found when we give our lives away in service to God and others (Mark 8:35). God saved us by grace (Eph 2:8-9). But even though we are not saved BY good works, we are saved FOR good works. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” As part of Christ’s Body, we are on mission with Him. God commands all of us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:36-39). We do this by treating all those around us in the same way we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12).

Compass’s mission, based on Scripture, is to help people find and follow Jesus. The last words Jesus gave before he went back to heaven were, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20). At Compass, Christ’s last command is our first priority. Making disciples of all nations is the biggest mission in the world and we can all have a part in this.

We each need to discover, develop and deploy our spiritual gifts the best we know how and use them. At first you will probably not know what your spiritual gifts are, so just start serving in various ways and it will be clearer and clearer to you. What ideas do you have about how you can personally join in God’s mission in the world?

Which of these four practices (Prayer, Church, Bible, Mission) do you think will be easiest for you?

Which one do you think will be hardest? What’s the one thing you want to focus on applying today from this lesson?