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Where To Start As A New Believer

It is overwhelming sometimes when you are a new believer, even now it can be. You have so many questions that fill your head and then you begin to regret the decision because it seems like too much, or you ask what did I get myself into when you start to read parts of the bible. Trust me I’ve been there, I didn’t know what the books of the bible were, I didn’t know scripture or how to pray much less where to start. I made the mistake of reading or trying to read front to back and let me tell you that confused me even more and put seven times the questions in my head that probably would have been answered if I would have started right. So here are some things that helped me that might help when taking my first steps with Jesus.

Baby Steps

While you might be so filled with the Holy Spirit and so ecstatic about the newfound faith that you want to scream it from the rooftops, take it slow. Take baby steps. Paul didn’t change from Saul overnight it took a while even in his newfound faith after Jesus saved him, he fasted, prayed, and served under others before becoming one of the most influential authors of the new testament. No one is expecting that you all of a sudden have scripture knowledge, no one except you wants to serve in ministry right away. If you are experiencing this then I would try and find someone who you think is trustworthy to mentor you or find someone who can offer advice. Like Paul mentored Timothy, find your Paul. Take reading day by day, no one expects you to understand it all right now, take your time reading the bible, figure out what the Holy Spirit wants of you and bask in the ambiance of Jesus’ love for you. There is no shame in taking it slow, especially in a culture that demands a fast pace mind frame.

Don’t Start with Genesis

As tempting as it is to start with the first book of the Bible, start with the new testament. Please start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. I would even go as far as Hebrews). The reason why I suggest this is that everything in the old testament relies on the new testament, everything connects with what Jesus did for us and without that basic knowledge and understanding, half of the old testament will not make sense. I know that sounds like a case of Star Wars where the first three movies made were actually the last three of the original series but because they were first everyone watches them first, but seriously start from the back and work your way forward. If you do want to start from the beginning I would get maybe get a study bible or an application bible, both of which have been noted at the bottom of the page that way it can help you grasp what is being talked about and how it applies or how it connects with new and old testament scriptures.

Get Connected

We are not called to do this alone, it is so important to be connected with other like-minded believers in our area to not only encourage us but to almost mentor each other in parts of scripture we don’t understand. I had a few people I knew I could trust to come to them with questions and they would genuinely sit down and explain things. I still have the emails of a conversation of questions I had asked a friend about sin, end times, relationships, and war in the bible. He was very open with me and corrected my thoughts about each thing gently. He helped me understand more of the bigger picture. I also can go to some family members who are seasoned believers but beyond knowledgeable. I know it’s intimidating to go out and make new friends with people you don’t know, I still get this way as I am not a social butterfly. I would rather study by myself and be all as well with it but I can’t. I need others to help explain, I need others to help encourage me when I don’t feel like picking up my bible at all.

Ignore The Distractions of Status and Abilities

It is so easy for a believer to get distracted by the status and abilities of others. Sometimes after a while, you feel burnt out and unworthy because you can’t remember scripture as they can or you can’t speak like the group leader or you can’t sing like the worship team. My favorite one my mother said to me was I wish I was like you taking notes all the time, am I studying wrong? I completely and 100% was on her level, I felt that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t serving or I wasn’t giving like others or remembering things that some can just rattle off. What I have come to realize is that is okay, you are not meant to be like them. Some have the gift of giving, some have the ability to serve, some have the gift of knowledge, and some have the gift to sing. Some can lead and some can sympathize. Not every believer has the same thing given to them, we call these spiritual gifts, we all have them in us but we all don’t always know what they are.

It took me three years to even begin to find where in the church I belonged. I tried serving, I tried ministry, I tired leading, I tried volunteering, I tried hospitality and what I found is that I am the one who can sympathize, advise, and remember scripture. I didn’t all of a sudden remember verses and chapters, and to this day I don’t always remember but I can apply scripture to purpose and life in my head. It doesn’t always come out of my mouth in such a graceful way (which may not be my gift to talk) but it’s there. So I encourage you not to worry about who has what, what others are doing, how long they have been saved because what it all boils down to is being a faithful follower, reading your bible having love and compassion, living your life for Christ, and keeping running this race.

One Bad Apple

Don’t let a group or one individual convince you that you don’t belong in the church. Too often we see people being turned away because one bad person or one church represented Jesus the wrong way. I know it’s hard to ignore this, but let me give you a really big example of what I mean;

*changed names to ensure privacy*

I went to a small group one night and we were told a new person would be joining us, I being an anti-social person naturally got unusually excited for a new person to join our night study. Without much other thought, we were introduced to our new small group member “Ashley”. Well before the group, we all introduced ourselves and went around the table a sense, and shared a little bit about ourselves and our testament. Well, Ashley told us a little bit about her past and where she is now, her lifestyle, and where she came from, after that I personally could tell she was a little uncomfortable. Well, our conversation after the study went south, a group member mentioned something that I could tell wasn’t making Ashley uncomfortable especially because this topic was related to her lifestyle. Well after group that night we all left, that following week Ashley didn’t come back to church or to the group and the other study group members shrugged and figured she found a better group. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t try and reach out so meanwhile I felt off and felt that I needed to reach out to her, so I did. Ashley and I chatted for a long while about many things about the bible, any questions she had, my thoughts, her life, my life, and I shared my testimony fully and most importantly I apologized for that first night. I remember she asked me why I had the need to apologize for someone else’s actions so I mentioned to her that if this is the life she wanted to pursue she should let people like those in the group change her mind, one bad apple doesn’t make the whole batch rotten as it seems to appear. She and I both agreed that they didn’t emanate what Jesus would have done to welcome a new person into his home.

I am happy to report that Ashley is a devoted Jesus follower and beyond wise. I am so happy that I befriended her, that I get to see what she is doing for the Kingdom and what God is helping her with, and how he saved her but the moral of that quick blurb was that all Ashley saw that the few bad apples on top and figured the rest were rotten so why bother. This is why it is so important for Christians to live and show what you so desperately preach. I can’t express that enough. New believers don’t let a few bad apples convince you that this is what it is like because what they showed is not the Jesus majority of us know.

Conclusion

Take it slow, take your time, find encouragement in others around you, and don’t let others be the reason you give up on Jesus.

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