Day 3 / New Believers
Listening to God
Imagine not hearing from someone you love for a long time, and then one day you receive a letter in the mail from them. Think about the excitement of opening the letter in order to read what they have said! The Bible is a compilation of God’s letters to us, and it is the primary way in which He speaks to us. When we read the Bible, we are reading God’s words and God’s Truth. We can learn to hear God by reading the Bible.
Why the Bible?
The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament takes place from the beginning of creation up until 400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus and covers His life in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the beginning of the church (Acts), and early letters to Christian churches in cities across the Middle East. The Bible is made up of 66 different books that were written over 1,600 years. The Old Testament has 39 books (the books of Genesis through Malachi), and the New Testament has 27 books (the books of Matthew through Revelation). The Bible was written by more than 40 individuals as they were inspired by God. Yet, miraculously, the Bible doesn’t contradict itself and has one theme from beginning to end: God loves us and has a plan to redeem us through Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. – 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
We all understand there are many opinions about who God is, what He has said, and what He has not said. Some of these opinions are accurate, and some of them are just plain lies. We are so glad God has not left us alone to decipher through all of people’s opinions. The Bible helps us to distinguish God’s voice from all other voices in the world. The world is full of theories, philosophies and opinions, but God’s Word is TRUTH!
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 NLT, “’People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The same way our bodies need natural food to grow, our spirits need to be fed with spiritual food in order for us to grow. Reading the Bible is like eating spiritual food. Therefore, in the same way that we eat food, we should consume the Bible every day.
Oftentimes we hear questions like, “When I am reading the Bible, how do I know that I am listening well?” This is a great question that many people ask. Here are three things you can keep in mind as you read the Bible. If you do these things you will be able to assure yourself that you are a good listener.
1. Acknowledge that God wants to talk to you.
2. Allow God’s words to draw you to His heart, help you turn away from sin and grow your faith.
3. Apply everything you learn.
There are many Bible versions. Which one should I read?
The original languages of the Bible are Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic (not English), so that means scholars throughout the years had to translate it. We call these translations “versions” of the Bible. There’s only one Bible but numerous translations because of the complexity of language. There are many great versions of the Bible to read but, for the sake of time, we recommend the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT) and the New King James Version (NKJV). As a new believer in Jesus, it is important for you to hear the Bible in modern day English in order to understand the Truth of God more easily. A great way to read various Bible versions is by downloading the YouVersion Bible app for Android or iPhone.
Also, sometimes the Bible can be difficult to grasp when you are just beginning. You may want to consider investing in a commentary, which gives insight on what the Bible is saying as you read through it. We recommend the “Life Application Study Bible,” which is a combination Bible/commentary.
The Bible is a big book. Where should I begin to read?
There are many fantastic books of the Bible: Genesis, Proverbs, Romans and Colossians to name a few. But perhaps the best place for you to begin today is reading the Gospel of Mark. In some Bible versions, the Gospel of Mark is referred to simply as Mark. The Gospel of Mark tells the story of Jesus.
Make the decision to stay connected to Jesus by beginning to add 5 minutes per day of reading the Bible to your 5 minutes of prayer. You can always spend more time than that, but make the decision to give at least 5 minutes of your day to hearing God speak through His letters to us. Let’s start by reading chapter one of Mark together.
Mark Chapter 1 (NIV)
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,”Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
New Believers Guide
As a new believer, what’s next? Being a Christian is bigger than praying and asking God into your heart. Discover what your next steps should be through seven days of encouragement in New Believers, a guide that will walk you through how to move from just believing in Jesus to becoming His disciple.Book (pdf)