Introductory issues that touch on basic principles and cornerstones of the Christian life.
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Activated Basic Course 1 – Who Is Jesus?
Life sure can be confusing! We search for answers, but often end up with more questions. What are we here for? Why is there so much pain and heartache in the world? Where can we find hope, even when things seem to be going all wrong? Where can we find the strength to face life’s challenges? Where can we find happiness that lasts?
The answers to all these questions and more are found in a very personal and close relationship with Jesus, who promises us not only eternal life in Heaven, but that He will stick by our side until we get there. He has a world of happiness, peace, freedom, contentment, and everlasting love waiting for you. All you have to do is connect to the source of this life-changing power. Receive Jesus into your heart, and He will fill your life with the love and understanding you have always longed for.
Activated Basic Course 2 – God’s Word
Genuine, lasting friendship is built on communication. You know how it is with a close friend—you share your thoughts, they understand you, you understand them. That’s how Jesus wants to be with us. He wants our close friendship, not merely a distant relationship. And for that friendship to grow, communication is essential. Directing our thoughts and needs to Jesus in prayer is one side of this communication; hearing from Him is the other. He reveals His thoughts to us through His Word—both the recorded Word in the Bible and the living Word that He speaks to our hearts when we listen to Him while praying.
His words to us are a precious gift of His love and a special token of His friendship. They are not only for our information and instruction, but they are also an invaluable reservoir of courage, strength, faith, hope, and life. If ever you’re feeling depressed or confused or just plain weary, nothing lifts your spirit like taking a few minutes to read a couple of Psalms or a chapter from the Gospels or a Christian publication based on the Scriptures.
Activated Basic Course 3 – Prayer
When you stop to think about it, our modern means of communication would probably be totally incomprehensible to someone living only a few generations ago. Yet without a second thought we pick up the telephone and talk with someone thousands of miles away, or send a letter via e-mail to someone on the other side of the world, which we’re confident they’ll receive in a matter of minutes.
Although the concept is probably as inconceivable to those who have never tried it as the telephone or the Internet would be to our ancestors, connecting with Jesus through prayer is just as simple, just as real, and just as practical as picking up the phone and calling your closest friend.—And you’ll never hear a busy signal, you’ll never get an answering machine, and there are no long-distance charges!
Activated Basic Course 4 – Eternal Salvation
Some people live in eternal insecurity. They can never be sure, no matter what they do or don’t do, that they will go to Heaven when they die. It’s enough to make a nervous wreck out of anybody—and I once read about a man that it did just that to.
He had received Jesus as his Savior and tried his best to live according to Jesus’ teachings, but found he couldn’t live up to other people’s standards, what they said was necessary to merit salvation. According to them, every time he made a mistake or had an unholy thought, he lost his salvation and was right back where he had started, a lost sinner.
Finally he wound up a nervous wreck and was hospitalized. While recuperating in the hospital, he spent much of his time reading the Bible. One day he read Ephesians 2:8–9: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”—and he finally got the point. Salvation wasn’t dependent on anything that he had done or could do beyond believing that Jesus had died for sinners like himself. He got so excited about this simple truth that he felt better immediately and started sharing his discovery with everybody around him: “Do you know that all you have to do to be saved is believe, that’s all? Just believe! God’s grace plus your faith plus nothing!”
And he was so right! We’re saved by grace through faith—not by good works, or by being perfect, or doing penance, or keeping an endless list of dos and don’ts. Jesus has already done it all! And just like you are saved by grace, you are kept by grace. You don’t need to worry about losing your salvation, because you can’t. Once saved, always saved!
Activated Basic Course 5 – God Speaks
Can you imagine really caring about someone—your spouse, your best friend, your child—and never talking with him or her? Of course not. Love is built on communication, and so are all of the most important relationships we are blessed with.
So if Jesus wants to be both Husband and best Friend to us, as the Bible says, and if God is our heavenly Father, then isn’t it only logical that They would want to talk to us?
If Christianity were merely a philosophy or code of ethics or even a religion, those might simply be clever analogies—husband, friend, father—to try to explain our relationship to God and Jesus in a philosophical sort of way. But true Christianity is far more than any of those, thank God! It’s more than rationale and rules, rhetoric and ritual, morals and ethics; it’s a living, loving, personal relationship—a relationship that grows richer and deeper and stronger through honest, open communication with our Creator.
The means of communication that God has provided is prayer, which means not only talking to God, but listening to Him too. He wants us to tell Him our needs and desires, our problems and fears, our innermost thoughts, and our secret dreams. And it works both ways. He also wants to answer our questions, help solve our problems, encourage us when we feel down, and share our victories and joys. Most of all, He wants to help us understand and experience His love in a very real and personal way.
We’ve all seen cartoons of a person at a point of decision, with a guardian angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, each trying to persuade the person to do or not do this or that. The message is simple, clear, and often amusing, but what few people seem to realize is that there is also a lot of truth to those cartoons.
Even a lot of people who believe in God don’t realize how real the spirit world is or what a major part it plays in their daily lives. Numerous passages in the Bible make it clear that God and His angels on one hand and the Devil and his agents on the other are constantly trying to influence us—and they do it largely through our thoughts from the unseen spiritual realm. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
In modern terms, God’s Spirit is like a radio station and our minds are like radios. God’s broadcasts inspire faith, hope, love, wisdom, truth, instruction, and other positive thoughts that inspire positive actions. The Devil is like another station. He deliberately tries to flood the spiritual airwaves with his lies and propaganda and time-wasters—anything to occupy our minds and distract us from receiving and following God’s messages.
Whose voice are you tuned in to? Who guides your thoughts and thereby controls your time and actions?
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