Chapter OneTime to Make a Change
Whether you're just now coming to Christ, or just getting serious
about it for the first time in a long time, you'll find that
God is always willing to join you on the starting line, but
never content with letting you remain the way you are. Or the
way you've been. Want to see some changes in your life? You've come to the right place.
Why Me? Why Now?
How God Draws You to Himself
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never go hungry,
and he who believes in me will never be thirsty
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and
whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I
have come down from heaven not to do my will but
to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will
of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that
he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For
my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son
and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will
raise him up at the last day"
"No one can come to me unless the Father who
sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last
For Jesus had known from the beginning which of
them did not believe and who would betray him. He
went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can
come to me unless the Father has enabled him"
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have
drawn you with loving-kindness."
John 6:35, 37-40, 64b-65; Jeremiah 31:3b
Calling your conversion experience a decision for
Christ doesn't begin to convey the truth of the matter.
Yes, you made a decision based on your own free will.
Yes, you were perfectly free to make a different choice
than you did.
But look at the whole thing on
balance-from God's perspective-and
suddenly your decision to follow
Jesus looks a lot less like a bold move
on your part and a lot more like a
stunning victory on His part.
He fashioned everything there is
about you in His own mind. He set
you in a particular time and place.
He's been carefully arranging people,
situations, and events in your life,
waving His arms in front of your
face, pleading with you to look back, to see the cross,
to know the love that paid every last dime on your
escalating debt of sins, to experience more freedom
and joy and peace and contentment than you ever
Looks like your hardest decision was trying to say
no all this time.
The Rise and Fall of Man
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of
the wild animals the Lord God had made. He
said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not
eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit
from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must
not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the
garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was
good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable
for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She
also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and
he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and
they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves
together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the
Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool
of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the
trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:1-4, 6-8
Say hello to the deadwood in your spiritual family tree.
They go by the names Adam and Eve. And they've
taken you far away from your roots. Not that we'd
have done any differently had we been in their bare
feet, but Adam and Eve's decline into deception cost
them much more than a nice, cozy
home in the garden spot of the world.
It cost the entire human family everything
God had created it to be.
Because of their sin-or the Fall,
as it's commonly called-mankind
refused his rightful, original place of
perfect, guilt-free fellowship with
God, and landed with a thud on a
dark, remote nowhere land a million
miles from home-spiritually
depraved, hopelessly lost.
Ever since then, the human quest has been to rediscover
his lost worth, to understand why his innate
desire to be better than he is-and to enjoy a relationship
with a God bigger than himself-has always ended
in such disappointing failure. There's only one way
back. And you've found it. Say hello to Jesus Christ.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
The New Man and the Old
I do not understand what I do. For what I
want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the
law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it,
but it is sin living in me.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my
sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good
I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I
keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no
longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do
good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner
being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at
work in the members of my body, waging war against
the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the
law of sin at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me
from this body of death?
Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law,
but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
When you welcomed Jesus into your world, He
restored the blood supply to your spirit-that part
of you that had been beaten and left for dead by the
thugs of sin and deception. He gave you a new heart,
complete with a guarantee of full protection against
the punishment of hell, against the
fear and finality of the grave. He
placed in you His own Holy Spirit
to give you a new way of thinking,
a fresh awareness of God's presence,
and a promise that one day
your faith would pay off with a
one-way ticket to paradise.
But look who's still hanging
around. Your heart may be in heaven,
but God's left your feet here on the
ground, where the person you used to
be can still have a say in your choices and remind you
how much fun you all used to have together.
Don't be surprised when civil war breaks out in
your heart, when you're torn between the God you
love and the temptations that still know how to play
your song. Your sinful self is beaten, but he's not
going without a fight. Get ready, though. He has his
Your All-Sufficiency in Christ
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the
Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may
know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your
heart may be enlightened in order that you may know
the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his
glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably
great power for us who believe
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may
strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your
inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts
And I pray that you, being rooted and established
in love, may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the
love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses
knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of
all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according to his power
that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for
ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:16-21
Trusting God to help you overcome your sins and
shortcomings sounds so spiritual, doesn't it? Turning
everything over to God, letting God handle your
problems, giving your burdens to the Lord . can't
argue with the wisdom there.
But when it's just you and your
bad temper, or your runaway sex
drive, or your weakness for cherry
cheesecake, where do you find the
strength to say no?
You might not guess it to look at
you, but you have available to you-right
now-the same kind of power
that God "exerted in Christ when he
raised him from the dead" (Eph.
1:20). And as you begin facing even
your toughest challenges with the
weapons of prayer, Bible truth, worship, thanksgiving,
accountability, and other specific strategies that
you'll begin gaining through experience, you'll see
sin's deception for what it is, you'll turn your back on
habits that have had your number for years, and your
heart for instant gratification will be changed into a
heart that knows where its power lies.
At a Time
Learning to Walk with God
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all
deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every
kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk,
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now
that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by
men but chosen by God and precious to him-you
also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual
house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is
not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use
have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings
about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again
the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to
death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms,
the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the
dead, and eternal judgment
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:1-5; Hebrews 5:13-6:2; 2 Peter 3:18
No one enters the Christian life as middle management.
Just like there's only one way in-through belief
in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross-there's
only one way up. And it starts on the ground floor.
But don't worry. It's anything but boring in the minimum-wage
mailroom of Christian
maturity . for at least two reasons:
Your enemy, Satan, knows that your
fire is burning pretty bright right
now. He also knows that you're vulnerable
to a relapse (modern attention
spans and commitment levels
being what they are). He'll have
plenty of temptations to keep you
busy once the new wears off.
But on the other hand, God promises
you room for steady advancement
if you're willing to work hard in His training program,committing yourself to His Word, to His church, to
His tried-and-true philosophy of aspiring to bigger
things by being faithful in the small things. New blessings
and discoveries can spring up from all over when
you're just starting out. You won't find this much joy
in anyone else's company.
Seeing God as Father
Yet to all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God-children born not of natural
descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will,
but born of God
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of
God The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God's children. Now if we are children,
then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with
Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order
that we may also share in his glory
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give
him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a
snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will
your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming
down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does
not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us
birth through the word of truth, that we might be a
kind of firstfruits of all he created.
John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14, 16-17; Matthew 7:9-11; James 1:17-18
When God wanted to put His love into terms we
could understand, He painted Himself in the biblical
imagery of a Father-not the kind who rants and
raves, fussing about the way you keep your room or
teaching you how to drive by pounding the dash-board
every time you change lanes in
traffic. Not the kind who's tied up
(again) at work, or only visible from
the waist down behind his morning
paper, apparently unconcerned with
the things that matter most to you.
Neither is He a doting grandfather,
mindlessly doling out dollar
bills so you can buy your fill of
candy and bubble gum. This Father
who asks you to walk with Him will
ask more of you than anyone possibly
could-your life, in fact, for the privilege of being
on personal terms with the God of the universe. But
in return, you'll receive a love that's so complete and
unconditional, so honest and pure, so rich in mercy
and long on patience, that you'll want nothing more
than to please Him, to make Him proud of you, to
find your reason for living in His gentle smile.