Where Do I Start? (Part 3)
3/06/2009 | Author: RCW
You might have guessed that there would be more to come on this topic. The discussion arose over the occasional question posed in a variety of ways: Where should a new believer start? With just a twinge of sarcasm, I mentioned one thing in the first posting: Starting with the Bible may be the most novel thing to do. Ya think?! I mentioned two things in the last posting: 1) Start a journal; and 2)In that journal, record any thoughts or questions you might have or topics you'd like to study. Pray and seek answers relentlessly.

Here now comes still another bit of wisdom.

    Be on your guard for discouragement will most assuredly come to you sooner or later. Here are 2 possibilities that frequently cause discouragement in the early stages of our walk with Christ:

    • ONE possibility is opposition from outside. One reality we often dismiss or forget is the simple fact that the enemy Satan always seems to mount a counter-attack of sorts. Sometimes it is as sure as clockwork. This is why if you were to come to me ecstatic over your friend, coworker, loved one, or whomever becoming a Christian, more and more I believe that the best thing I could do is to urge you: "Now you REALLY have to pray!" We should always pray very hard for those who have just newly become followers of Christ. For the scriptures even promise that there will be trouble awaiting them on account of their decision. If we think of this in terms of the reality of spiritual warfare, we will understand the exchange that has taken place. The enormous truth is that the new believer has become a traitor to his original army (evil) and has joined the ranks and battle lines of the opposing side (righteousness). Turning from the kingdom of darkness and joining the kingdom of Christ is a decision that those living in darkness (be they spiritual beings or human ones) will surely want to persuade you to reconsider.

    • The SECOND possibility is that the discouragement comes from within. There is a marvelous book that any Christian might enjoy entitled Letters Along the Way. One of the early difficulties for the main character of the book was that once he became a Christian, he constantly felt terrible about himself. His conscience was suddenly so acutely aware of his sin and so aware of his shortcomings, so stricken by the chasm between God's perfection and his own non-perfection, that he became very discouraged indeed.

      If that describes you, rest assured that the feeling of inadequacy is one that is not only normal, but to an extent encouraged. In fact, that feeling is likely the result of the Holy Spirit already working within you. Dwelling on your own shortcomings can lead to guilt. And this sort of guilt is much different than the natural feeling of conviction from the Holy Spirit. One leads us to throw up a white flag and surrender, sulking over ourselves. The other leads us to fall on our knees in repentance so that we can live in the victory that is ours thanks to the forgiveness extended to us by our Most Holy God. God wants us to redirect this new feeling to its proper result - He wants us not to wallow in self-centered grief, but to look to Him and let this feeling cause us to overflow with gratitude for His grace and mercy He has shown us by cleansing us and making us holy.

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while,
      'He who is coming will come and will not delay
      But my righteous one will live by faith.
      And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.'
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." ~ (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV)~

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