Okay so I believe in Jesus now, but how do I start my relationship with Him? What do I do now that I’m saved?
Here are 5 first steps in following Jesus that can help answer these questions:
Prayer is when you talk to God. He not only can hear you but wants to hear about your day, about what’s getting you down and what you’re grateful for. And speaking of gratitude, if you’ve never prayed before, start by thanking Jesus for saving you from your sins. Thank him for the fact that he will always be faithful to you. His love for you will never change even if everything else does.
Read the Bible
Prayer is when you talk to God but did you know that God wants to talk to you? One way he speaks and guides is through the bible, which is a collection of his words to us. Psalm 119:105 says, “your word is a lamp unto my feet, a light on my path.” There will be dark moments on this journey where you don’t know which steps to take. Let God speak to you through his words in those moments. But don’t just wait to listen to him when things go wrong; make it a habit to read your bible daily- on your phone or with some friends at youth group. You can even listen to the bible on audio when you take a walk.
Some parts of the bible are confusing, which is fine, just like it’s fine to not always understand what a friend is saying. When miscommunication happens, we need to let go of an original idea we had in our head and listen to our friend intentionally. This is how God wants us to read his words. A good way to start is by reading a section of the bible called The Gospels. They are historical accounts of Jesus’ life. You can learn more about The Gospels by watching this video. And if you don’t have a bible yet, you can read the bible on apps like this one or this one.
Join a church
Maybe you’re already part of a church and have been in churches your whole life. But if you don’t know what a church is, here’s a general idea: it’s a community of Jesus-followers who help each other go deeper with God and show his love to others. You might think that finding a church during a pandemic is really tough, and you’re right. But this pandemic can also be an opportunity to pray about which church you’d like to be a part of in the future. One thing you can do is google, “churches in _____” and add your city or town. Then pray and check out different websites to see how different churches are connecting online. Or look at their instagram and start thinking about what going to church could look like in the future.
The future may be a very scary thing to think about right now. If that’s where you’re at, remember the bigger goal: to join a community of people who can help you grow your faith. If you’re thinking along those lines, you’re on the right track to experiencing more of what God wants for you!
Share your story
God not only wants you to experience his love; he wants your friends to experience it too! God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). He wants to give you the opportunity to join him in this great endeavour!
Participating in this opportunity is called “the Great Commission.” It’s basically going to those around you and talking about faith and what it’s like to follow Jesus. There’s the word “co” in there because you’re not alone on this adventure. Jesus promises that he’s with us as we talk about him.
Inviting your friend to discover faith can be as simple as sharing the Faith Adventure with them. Download the Voke app and start the Faith Adventure with one friend or a group of friends. This can have a huge impact on their life – and even their eternity.
Keep following Jesus
Finally, always remember that Jesus loves you. And the right way to respond to his love is by repenting from your sins and obeying him. That means doing a 180 degree turn from the life you were living before and living the way he wants you to live now. In the Gospels, Jesus said the following words to people like you who were new to faith: “whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).
The way we respond to a friend’s love says a lot about if we love them in return. As you begin experiencing Jesus’ love and power in your life, our prayer is that you get to know him through prayer, his word, your new church, participating in his work and obeying him in your everyday life. May these first steps in following Jesus be taken in confidence knowing that Jesus is with you on this lifelong journey!
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
We are driven to create opportunities for everyone, everywhere to encounter Jesus. We believe there is no higher calling, and we’re excited about all the opportunities we have to proclaim His name together as we partner with you.
We’d like to invite you to pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. You can use these prompts in your personal or family devotions, and even incorporate them into church gatherings and groups.
Pray for boldness
Pray for workers
Pray for receptivity
Pray for the coming kingdom
Pray for boldness
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19)
The Book of Acts tells us a powerful story about how the disciples’ conviction and boldness impacted Jerusalem and beyond. Despite significant resistance and danger, they shared the gospel message with anyone who would listen—and the effect was dramatic. People responded to the message with enthusiasm.
Spend some time this week praying for boldness. Ask the Lord to: Remove any fears you may have about sharing your faith. Give you the courage to share your testimony with the people who need to hear it. Empower your church to reach into your community to demonstrate and share the good news of the gospel. Continue encouraging missionaries around the world who have dedicated their lives to teaching people about Jesus. Help in equipping us to reach new people groups who are ready to hear the gospel in their heart language. It’s risky to pray for boldness. After all, we’re asking the Lord to take us out of our comfort zone. We naturally want to play it safe and avoid risk. But if we genuinely want to help others know and experience Jesus’s goodness, we need to be brave.
Join us as we pray for boldness!
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
We are fully committed to fulfilling the Great Commission. We want to see people all over the world discover what it means to follow Jesus. We’re focusing on prayer for global missions.
Please join us as we pray for God to send workers into the mission field.
Pray for workers
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:35–38).
Matthew tells us that Jesus toured the towns and villages around Judea, sharing the good news of the kingdom and healing all the sick. He then tells us that Jesus was driven by His sense of compassion. These people were hard-pressed and vulnerable. Not only was He caring for these people, but He was also demonstrating to the disciples what ministry looked like.
It was about sharing the gospel and meeting needs.
The Lord looked forward to the disciples picking up His work and carrying it throughout the world. And even then, He wanted to make sure that the disciples were praying for others to continue their work as well.
The spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of people all over the world haven’t changed much. They’re still harassed and helpless. They’re still sheep without shepherds. Please pray with us for God to send out workers.
Now, let’s focus on a few specific areas:
Pray for people to recognize God’s call
God is calling all of us to fulfill the Great Commission, but we’re not all called to the same tasks.
Pray that people become serious about discovering what their role is. Ask the Holy Spirit to seek God’s will for their lives and ministry. If they’re called to give, pray for conviction. If they’re called to go, pray that God clearly reveals it.
Pray for equipping Many people are willing to bring in the harvest, but they don’t know what the next steps should be.
Pray for churches and ministries to help prepare people to share their faith, and discover the work God has prepared for them to do.
Pray for those who are called to go
All over the world, there are people called to be harvesters. Many never end up pursuing their calling because they might be too comfortable, afraid, or busy. Jesus asked us not to simply pray for harvesters, but He asked us to pray that they’d be sent out. Ask the Lord to send out workers for the harvest.
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
CHRISTIANS ARE NOT BORN-AGAIN AS MATURE FULL GROWN BELIEVERS!!!
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” EPHESIANS 1:18
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
Brant’s story is a dramatic example of the power of God’s Word to change lives, even in desperate circumstances. You are part of his testimony through your prayers and gifts to get Scriptures to people in great spiritual need.
“If God can save someone like me, He can save anyone. I thought everything was going fine. My wife and I were married for 19 years and had two sons. I got a construction job working out of town, and things quickly went downhill.
While on a job, I reconnected with a former classmate from junior high. She said she was going through some difficult times and needed to talk to someone. I agreed to go to dinner with her, but that one conversation led to a motel room.
I went home and told my wife about the affair. She cried. I had broken her heart. I felt so ashamed and so dirty. She told our sons, and I could see the pain it caused them. I knew I was unworthy of such a good family. I decided I was going to commit suicide.
She Told Me She Had Been Praying for This-Praying for Us.
I walked into our bedroom and pulled my pistol from the bedside table. I sat down and put the barrel to my head, but a thought stopped me. I couldn’t shoot myself in our house with my family inside. I needed to go outdoors. I hid the gun in my pocket and walked past my wife through the front door.
A LIFE-SAVING INVITATION
As I did, the mailman dropped our mail into the mailbox, saw me and waved, then pulled into our driveway. He said he wanted to invite our family to his church the next morning. I tried to brush him off, saying that we might go. Then, he started pleading with me, ‘Please, please come to church.’ I thought of the gun in my pocket and told myself that I would just do it later.
I went back in the house and told my wife that we were going to church the next day. Again, she cried. She had been praying for this.
A HEART SAVED
One Sunday, our pastor preached on John 3:16. When the invitation came, I sat frozen, white-knuckling the pew in front of me. Those words stayed with me as I left for another off-site job the next morning.
On my first night at the motel, I tried to find something on television, but I couldn’t settle. I heard something within me say, ‘Brant, there’s a Bible in that dresser drawer. I want you to go and get it.’ I pulled open the drawer and found a Bible and started reading.
I read in Luke 8:22–25 about Jesus calming the storm. I felt Jesus tell me, ‘Brant, if I can save these disciples from this fierce storm, I can certainly save you from your sins. Just yield unto Me.’ I placed the Bible on the bed and fell prostrate on the floor, weeping, and invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. He saved me from my sins that night, and I’ve never been the same.”
Brant later became a soul winner and shares the Gospel in a prison ministry. The Great Commission Coalition offers a unique structure that encourages spiritual growth and accountability in each man’s personal relationship with Christ. Our members are people from all walks of life who have an intentional focus on the objective of winning others to Christ.
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
“Now, friends, read these next words carefully. Slow down and don’t go jumping to conclusions regarding the day when our Master, Jesus Christ, will come back and we assemble to welcome him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
These words could’ve been written in 2020, but they are actually from about AD 51 or 52. After Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he felt the need to write again and address their concerns, lest they be led astray in their faith.
Again, sounds much like 2020 — we still need encouragement and teaching.
There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t need to be inspired with courage for dark days, or boosted in confidence that God is still for us (and not against us). To encourage actually means to stimulate spiritually. It also means to boost, reassure, strengthen, comfort, fortify, gladden, and embolden.
Someone once said: “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”. If we tweak that a little for today, we might say: “A word of encouragement during 2020 is worth more than an hour of praise in times past.”
But not just any encouragement… the best reassurance is found in God’s Word. The news can’t give us what we need. Books of great literature or binge-worthy movies may sweep us momentarily into another world, but when we resurface, imaginary worlds from man’s imagination won’t suffice.
God’s Word establishes us in hope, keeps us stable in unstable times, and repeatedly reminds us of truth— God’s Word is God’s truth. In fact, Jesus prayed this very thing for us:
“[Father] Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
And this is why we also need teaching. Each of Paul’s letters encouraged believers in their struggles, but the majority of what he wrote was instructional. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he imparted knowledge to help believers navigate their lives. They needed advisement, coaching, explanations, and truth to prepare them for the unforeseen.
I have always held to this adage, that scripture always interprets scripture. In other words, instead of trying to figure things out on my own (the meaning and context of scripture), I believe God’s Word helps interpret His Word. God isn’t confused and as the author of time and space, He knows what is past, what is, and what is yet to come. God, and His Word, can be trusted.
And what an encouragement trust can be!
Even if we knew the exact day of Jesus’ return, we’d still have to remain focused and purposed. Our confidence is that He is coming again and we can trust Him to help us in the meantime.
2020 will not be soon forgotten. But in the midst of all the oddities of this year, you can be confident without jumping to conclusions. Stay anchored in God’s Word and you’ll find all the encouragement you need as well.
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
Someone once told me that if you are struggling to hear God’s voice, or if you don’t feel you can sense His leading, then go back to the last thing He spoke to you.
Elijah experienced the power of God in ways most of us can only imagine. On one occasion, the king (Ahab), accused him of being ‘the troubler of Israel’ (1 Kings 18: 17). Elijah, not one to back down even before the highest monarch in the land, then poured out a catalogue of wrongs committed by Ahab, including abandoning the Lord’s commands and leading the nation into idol worship.
Elijah then challenged the king to a showdown. ‘Bring me your best prophets of Baal and the nation will see who the real God is’ (my paraphrase).
So, crowds of people showed up from all over the country along with 450 representatives of the idol, Baal. You know the story: the Baal prophets and Elijah each set up an altar with a dead bull on top and each called upon their God to ignite the sacrifice by fire from Heaven.
So confident was Elijah in the Lord’s power and the foolishness of idol worship, that He even started teasing the prophets as they grew more desperate for their god to hear them: ‘Shout louder people, he’s a god, isn’t he? Maybe he’s just busy today, perhaps he has dozed off, or is travelling somewhere’ (1 Kings 18: 27, my paraphrase).
Elijah then made His sacrifice even harder to ignite, with copious amounts of water and, after a short prayer, the fire of God exploded onto the scene, as the people fell on their faces exclaiming, ‘The Lord – he is God!’
Elijah promptly had the prophets executed, prophesied an end to the nation’s famine and ran like a wild sprinter to Ahab’s hometown (Jezreel) just ahead of a heavy downpour.
Not bad for a day’s work, except that in Jezreel, Elijah received word from the king’s wife (Jezebel) that she will stop at nothing to ensure he is brutally executed.
Perhaps surprisingly, despite the miracles Elijah had just experienced, fear gripped his heart like a vice, and he ran for his life.
At first, the text of 1 Kings keeps us in suspense as to where he is headed. He leaves his servant in Beersheba, then continues alone into the desert, praying with a fearful and discouraged heart that God might take him. Eventually, he arrives at Horeb. Why here?
The author of 1 Kings tells us that this is the mountain of God – it is the same place as Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 commandments. Elijah hasn’t run away; he has run to the place where God speaks. The man of God fled to the one location he knows of where God words can be heard. Maybe God will speak here again – to him.
At Elijah’s lowest point (and even those who know God’s love and power experience those times), where a dark cloud threatened to envelop his soul, Elijah found his way to the place of God’s Word.
The good news is that God did speak again to Elijah and so, God can whisper words to you and me too. Perhaps we just need to go back to the mountain – to His Word. For some of us, that might be to the last thing He said.
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
Have you ever read the remarkable story in Mark chapter two, where a crowd of people listening to Jesus speaking in a house were surprised by the interruption of a paralyzed man being lowered through the roof to his feet. As the makeshift stretcher slowly descended, all eyes would have been on the man, then on Jesus, then back on the man. What will Jesus do? Every person present would surely have hoped to see a miracle right in front of them.
But Jesus doesn’t heal him, at least not straight away. All he does is tell the young man that his sins are forgiven.
The teachers of the law, who have likely travelled from Jerusalem to be there are immediately critical: ‘This is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (2:7). Why would Jesus do this? He seems to be deliberately walking into conflict.
The Gospels, of course, are full of accounts of Jesus’ actions and sayings that intentionally point to his true identity – Emmanuel, God with us. So, Jesus, just to make clear to his audience that he does in fact have divine authority to pronounce forgiveness over the man, confirms it by also healing him. No wonder people in the crowd said, “we have never seen anything like this” (2: 12)
But I think there is another reason why Jesus forgave the man’s sins. Matthew’s version of the story has Jesus saying, “take heart son, your sins are forgiven” (Matt 9:2). Somehow Jesus felt he needed to speak to the man with deep compassion – as if he knew the man was weighed down with guilt. Perhaps the young man even believed that he deserved his physical condition because of something he had done. The text doesn’t give answers to these speculations, but I suggest that there are hints in Jesus’ words that what the man desperately needed was a clean conscience. And only God can give that.
When Jesus heals it is always a miracle, but perhaps his forgiveness is a miracle too. The once-paralyzed man walked away free from his physical suffering but also free from his guilt. I’m surprised we don’t see him skipping to a tune on his way out – maybe the dancing happened with his family later!
1 John 1: 9 tells us that if we confess our sins to Him, then He, being just and faithful will forgive us our sins. We all know what it feels like to carry a burden of guilt. We can try and hide it, suppress it, even try to justify the actions that caused it, but we can’t set ourselves free from it. Only forgiveness from the one who has the authority to forgive will work.
Is Jesus challenging you to repent of something? Have you been carrying a weight that you can’t shake off? Perhaps He wants to give you a miracle today – the miracle of forgiveness.
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
Have you ever had the thought, “What’s the point?” “What am I doing here?” “Is what I’m doing even making a difference?”
I have to imagine you said yes. Who hasn’t wrestled with those thoughts? We can look back in time and find such questions being asked over two thousand years ago because it’s part of being human.
What I mean is, in our humanity, we’ve been given the ability to choose our own course of action— our destiny. Yet you don’t have to look far to begin wondering about life, choices, destinies — before that random thought flits across your mind: What’s the point?
This is exactly what happened to Solomon. And his thoughts are recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
I remember the first time I read these passages and thought, poor guy, he sure had a bad attitude. But 30 years later, with a little more life under my belt, I read his words and could relate.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-5,9)
The word vanity here isn’t referring to excessive pride, but instead is a reference to things done in vain. Solomon is calling life trivial or pointless. He reached a point where neither his wisdom nor his wealth satisfied anymore. He walked about his gardens observing how trees grow, produce fruit, drop their fruit, and then do it all over again— year after year. And he began to observe this was true of humanity too— a cycle of repetition — and he asked himself, “What’s the point?”
I think his question is valid for the person without Christ. It is vanity to chase riches and fame (for no other purpose than to achieve riches and fame), for in the end, they bring no real satisfaction. A person is born, grows, hopefully does something good with their life, and then they die — this is the cycle of a godless life. And if that’s all there is, then I agree with Solomon: What’s the point?
But thankfully, I have found the reason for my existence— the purpose of it all. It is the story of Jesus. As He came to the earth to point us to the Father, so now our lives are purposed with the same task. But it’s not redundant or trivial or pointless.
Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born again (John 3:3). Nicodemus didn’t understand this concept until Jesus said,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
In other words, whoever puts their faith and trust in (clings to) Jesus doesn’t have to live a pointless, lost life. No, we understand now, there is more!
Eternal, everlasting life doesn’t start when we die. Eternal life starts the moment we give our hearts to Jesus. And this new, born again life has purpose. Despite the cycle of seasons and generations, our hearts look to the Creator of time and life, willingly laying aside everything else with the understanding that we are called to a greater purpose than just existing— we now carry a responsibility of bringing as many as possible with us into an eternal life — not just a life that cycles and ends.
Thankfully, Solomon discovered this same truth after all his wanderings:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
And this is both enough and satisfying.