If you’re reading this, you’re probably born again. In other words, you’ve said “Yes!” to God’s way and have become his foster child and a follower of Jesus. You’re a member of God’s church and a citizen of his kingdom on Earth. God has given you his spirit to guide you while you’re on Earth, just as he gave Jesus his spirit while he was on Earth. With God’s spirit, you have all the help you’ll need to accomplish your Earthly tasks and one day join Jesus and God (and all those who love Jesus and God) in heaven – if, as Paul says, you faint not.
When you’re born again, you automatically enter into God’s church, which is also his earthly kingdom. Essentially, you’re “in church” all the time. What the Jews prior to Jesus went into the temple or synagogue to do (be in God’s presence), you can now do wherever you are. So you don’t have to worry about which church or denomination you should join – you’ve already joined it.
That having been said, there are any number of so-called Christian religious organizations that will try to lure you into their “family”, claiming to be God’s true church. Don’t be fooled by them. Their primary focus is getting “offerings” or “gifts” (in other words, money) out of you and everyone else. Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon; giving money is not what God requires of you. Don’t fall into the trap of religion.
When you’re in God’s church, you have no reason to go into a building to worship and praise him; every word you speak, every thought you think, and everything you do is your worship and praise. Where you are is holy ground, not some building or geographical location. As long as you do the will of your Heavenly Father, you will have the capacity to communicate continually with God through his spirit, who is always with you.
Get to know God as your Dad, understanding what a true dad is. Talk to him, but more importantly, listen to him. He’s there to counsel you as well as to console, protect, applaud, warn, punish, and even entertain you. He’ll never order you to do anything, only advise. Remember – he’s your Dad, and he loves you more than you can imagine. He knows everything about you (even things you yourself have forgotten) and he’s still your number one fan. You’re his one and only, the apple of his eye. He’s moving heaven and Earth so you can come home to him. Let him be all he wants to be for you.
After you’re born again, there will be many among your family, friends and acquaintances who will think you’ve gone crazy, but let them think that. You yourself know that you’ve never felt more sane, grounded, or happy. Don’t try to preach to them, and don’t get angry with them when they start to avoid you. They’re blind and won’t see no matter how graphic a picture of your conversion you paint for them; likewise, they’re deaf, and won’t hear no matter how loudly you yell. Let them alone; answer whatever questions they ask you about your conversion, be kind to them, but otherwise let them be. You can’t change them any more than you could change yourself; only God can change people, and only if and when they sincerely ask for help.
Recall that Jesus was estranged from his family and former friends throughout most of his ministry years. Recall also that he didn’t choose any of his family or former friends to be his disciples, and that his family and most of his hometown thought he was crazy. Being estranged from your family and friends (who are not born again) is a hazard of the born-again trade. Jesus warned us that our worst enemies will be ‘those under our own roof’, and in this, as in everything he said, he is right.
Ask God’s opinion in everything you do, take his advice, and always work in his strength, not your own. That’s how Jesus was able to make it from day to day and all the way through to the end – by relying 100% on God.
Pray always. In other words, never stop talking and listening to God. He’s always right there with you, whether you’re aware of him or not. Praying means talking to God, being conscious of his presence, not repeating bad poetry and prose (Jesus referred to that as “vain repetitions”).
I believe that Jesus was always (or almost always) conscious of God’s presence, which is why he was able to obey God’s will in all things. He always asked God’s advice, and always let God speak and do things through him. Being born again, we also have that same capacity and privilege and responsibility as Jesus had. If you’re prone to forgetting (as I am), ask God to remind you of his presence so that you will always ask his advice, like Jesus did.
A clear sign of God’s presence is peace and joy, regardless of your circumstances. As long as you’re doing God’s will, you will experience his peace and joy, as Jesus promised you would.
Be aware that demons are all around you, impacting people to various degrees, but don’t let it frighten you. Where you are is holy ground; God’s spirit and his holy angels will protect you as long as you do God’s will. Don’t talk to demons. Don’t even be curious about them. God will let you know everything you need to know about them as the need arises; to want to know more about them beforehand is to invite them in. Be aware, but don’t be afraid. God’s holy forces are always with you and always protecting you.
Read the Bible until it’s ingrained in your brain, and then read it some more. God will guide you in this, showing you what to read. Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Paul – these are your spiritual brothers. Jesus said whoever does the will of his Father in heaven is his brother or his sister or his mother. So when you read the Bible, you’re reading your family history.
Set your course for heaven, but understand that simply being born again is no guarantee that you’re going to get there. Paul advises us to run the race to win; he doesn’t say we’ve won just because we’re on the race track. Likewise, Jesus warned us that only those who endure to the end will be saved. Again, heaven is not a guarantee for believers: Many are called, but few are chosen. Run the race to win; endure to the end. You’ll be judged on your end position, not on your overall average.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly – regardless of whose fault it was, and regardless of how you feel about the situation, choose to forgive always and immediately. You’ll have to forgive eventually, anyway, if you want to remain in God’s grace. Remember that you only get back what you put out; if it hurts, you’ve earned it.
“I require mercy, not sacrifice.”
“Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”