Since the age of five, I have believed in Jesus. My mother was a woman of God who lived by the Word of God. She gave a simplistic explanation that Jesus loved and died for me, was resurrected, went to heaven, and was preparing a home in heaven where we would live forever. Attending church reinforced my belief that God is love, prompting me to love Jesus throughout my childhood.
But reality surfaced as I matured and left home. I noticed that my life was no longer manageable. One problem after the other bombarded my life, and eventually, I decided that serving God had no benefits. Truthfully, I did not study the Bible, nor did I have a consistent prayer life. It is “Human effort plus Divine Intervention that equals Victory.” I held God responsible for the failure of a thriving spiritual relationship with Him. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [they do not know me]. Hosea 4:6
Many years later, in 2006, I met an elderly woman while shopping who witnessed to me about returning to my first love, Jesus Christ. I started attending revival services, made the commitment to follow Jesus, and was baptized [Human Effort]. Even so, God had plans to produce a different outcome [Divine Intervention]; the church had a New Believers program. I was assigned a spiritual mentor that helped me through the roughest times: The transition of renouncing–giving up worldly pleasures to serve Jesus.
And it is during those turbulent times, many believers fail to understand the purpose of hardships and how they are related to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
- Your life becomes tougher: Serving God means giving up all of the ungodly people, places, and things you love and are familiar with. Yes, you may be living a clean and sober life and free from your past habits [Praise God!], but now that you are a member of the “body of believers,” which requires you to give up everything that prevents spiritual growth and inhibits your relationship with God. I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. The Holy Spirit helps us to develop a new lifestyle that reflects our commitment to God. Everything changes when we become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 2 Corinthians 6:17
- Learning to study the Bible and praying: Building the spiritual foundation with God requires diligently studying the Bible and praying every day. Here’s some unspoken guidance about prayer, if you can count the times you have prayed today, then you are not praying enough. Staying connected to the Vine-Jesus requires faith, trust, obedience, courage, strength, discipline, and self-control. [Read John 15:5]
- Forming new relationships: I must admit that this is one of the most challenging parts of serving God. Jesus must become your best friend. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. You made the commitment to follow Jesus, so you must build your relationship with Christ first. God will reveal the friends that we need in our Spiritual-Social Circle. The Holy Spirit amazingly gives us the gift of discernment to know when the person or activity does not glorify God.
- Forming new relationships, part 2: It is not easy making new friends at any stage in life. Even so, pray and ask God for guidance. Ask the Pastor to assign you a spiritual mentor if the church has not provided one. If you accepted Jesus without church intervention, then you may have to accept isolation for a little while. Do not despair! Remain obedient to God. He will reveal the path [the plans] that He desires for you to follow, including a Bible-based church. Pray and wait on the Lord. Do not follow an emotional response to cope with being alone. Put God first! Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 1 Corinthians 10:22
- Our life becomes full of peace, joy, and happiness: No, this is not a contradiction. “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33. Pray and ask for help! “God, I’m having a tough time. I need your help. Amen.” Enter the spiritual team of God, the Father, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, and Comforter, along with messenger/guardian heavenly angels who we have on our side. What worries should we have? “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
- Know, understand, and embrace the trials, tribulations, and temptations: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and difficulties, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5
Our characters must align with God’s requirements. Every trial, tribulation, and temptation is to produce the Fruit of the Spirit within us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Trust in God: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Need Encouragement? Jesus says, “I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:18. Saints of the Most-High God, never forget: Victory belongs to Jesus! Amen and Amen!
Our Goal: Eternal life
Bible Reading: Romans 5: 1-11
Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14]. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson