Following Jesus - A Course for New Christians
Lesson 4: You believe in Jesus - What difference does that make to your life in your family and at work?
Rev John Hibberd
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
These lessons are for new Christians. The pastor will teach some parts of the lesson. He will ask you to talk about some other parts of the lesson. You can ask the pastor questions too.
Notes for the pastor: it would be good to begin each lesson with some worship and prayer.
1. The pastor should ask people to go into groups of about six people. The people will then try to answer the question: ‘You believe in Jesus. What difference does that make to your life in your family and at work?’ Tell them that they have about 10 minutes to do this.
2. The pastor should ask the groups to tell him their answers.
3. The pastor should then teach them from these notes.
· In lesson 1, we said that it is important to believe in Jesus. You must decide to do this for yourself. But that is only the first step.
· The Bible says that you must also join God’s people – the church. When God’s people meet together, they listen to the leaders. So they hear what the Bible says. They want to learn more about Jesus.
· When we listen to the Bible, we learn many good things. We learn that we cannot do only what we want to do. Some things that we do are wrong. If we want to follow Jesus, we must do what the Bible says. To do that will involve some changes in your life and in my life.
· People wrote the words of the Bible a long time ago. They lived among a different type of people. Their customs were different. That is all true. But the words in the Bible still speak powerfully to us today. Why is that? There are two reasons.
· God helped the people who wrote the Bible. That is the most important thing. God made us. He knows how we should live. He uses the words of the Bible to show us his plan.
· The people who wrote the Bible knew about human life. They wrote about families and work. They wrote about the good feelings and the bad feelings that we have. Such things are important for all types of people, and such things are still part of our lives today.
· Some parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand. You may think that you understand what one part of the Bible says. Then you read what another part says, and you may think that it is the opposite. Usually this means that you have not understood both parts properly.
· The Bible speaks clearly about how we should live our lives. If you do not understand some details, do not concentrate on such small things. Instead, you should look at the things that God has made clear. You should try to live as God wants you to live.
When we follow Jesus, we live a completely different life. The Bible says:
One of Jesus’ followers wrote this Bible passage to help new Christians. He wanted them to follow Jesus. He writes about two completely different ways to live. He explains that there are things that you should not do as a Christian. These are things that you may have done before you became a Christian. They may be things that other people do, people who live in your town or village. What are the things that you yourself must stop doing?
· You must not get involved in magic or anything to do with evil things. Jesus defeated the devil, and all his evil plans. You do not need to fear the devil or his evil work any longer. You must not respect or give honour to evil spirits any more.
· You must not have sex apart from marriage. The Bible says that sex is only for a husband and his wife. It is wrong for a husband to have sex with another woman. It is wrong for a wife to have sex with another man. It is wrong for two men to have sex together, and it is wrong for two women to have sex together. People who are not married should not have sex. They should wait until they marry.
· You must not hate people. When you hate people, you want to fight them. Some families have been fighting other families for many years. This is not right for a Christian. Why? God loved you, even when you did not love him. You were his enemy. He forgave you for everything wrong that you have done. He now tells you to love other people. He tells you to forgive them.
· You must not get drunk. Some people drink alcohol or take drugs because they are not happy. They want to forget bad things in their life. Sometimes, when they are drunk, they have sex apart from their wife or husband. Sometimes, when they are drunk, they fight. Alcohol does not solve the problems in your life. It may even give you more problems. Do not turn to alcohol. Instead, turn to Jesus. Christians should not get drunk. They have a better way to live.
· There is a warning here. The Bible says that we must not continue to do these bad things. God has planned good things for those who are his people. If we continue to do bad things, we have no place with God.
It may be difficult for you to stop doing some of these things. They have become bad habits.
· You should tell God that you are sorry. Then you should try not to do those bad things again. Ask God to help you. If you fail, then say sorry to God again. Try again and again to do only good things.
· You want to stop your bad habit. Then it can be good to tell one other person about it. You should tell someone who would not tell other people. In this way, you have a friend to help you. They should ask you often if you have won your fight against this bad habit. This may help you to have a real victory over bad habits.
The Bible passage that we read tells us God’s way. It tells us how God can help us too. We heard these words:
You cannot fight these things by yourself. But God will help you all the time. His Holy Spirit is in the life of every Christian. The Holy Spirit begins to give you a new character. The words in this Bible verse speak about that character. You need to ask God for more of his Holy Spirit. You need to look for ways to show that you love other people. You need to be kind to other people too. You need to be a true friend. As you live more in this way, you are working with God’s Holy Spirit. Your life will change. You will become more like Jesus, because he always lived in this way. The bad parts of your character will become less and less. The Bible verses that we read spoke about ‘selfish desires’. You must choose how you live. If you live in a selfish way, you will live the life that is wrong for a Christian. If you choose to live in the way that the Holy Spirit wants, that is good. Then you will be living as God has planned for you to live.
We spend a lot of time in our homes and with our families. This is an important part of our life. We need to think how God wants us to live in our home. The Bible says a lot about married life and family life. God gave us families as part of his plan. The people who wrote the Bible knew about this. They knew that family life and married life can go wrong. People who lived at that time had the same sorts of problems that we have now. The Bible says:
This was God’s plan. He wants men and women to marry. He wants those who are married to stay with their own wives or husbands for the whole of their lives. He wants married people to enjoy their life together. He wants them to be happy. How can we make married life happy? The Bible has words to guide husbands and wives. The Bible says to wives:
What does this verse mean? It means that wives should not be selfish. Wives should not think: ‘What do I want?’ They should think: ‘What does my husband want?’ Wives should choose to consider first what their husbands think is right. Some people think that this is not a good way to live. They think that the husband will be selfish. Then his wife will be very unhappy. But the Bible says that this is right for wives. This is how they should show that they love their husbands. Wives should also pray for their husbands. A wife should show her husband that she loves him. She should show that she respects him. Then he will be happy. Even if he is a bad man, her good attitude may cause him to change.
The Bible says to husbands:
Husbands may be happy when they hear this advice to their wives. But there is difficult advice for husbands too! Husbands must love their wives as Jesus loved the church. How did Jesus love the church? He died to turn us back to God. Therefore husbands must not think: ‘What do I need?’ They should think: ‘What does my wife need?’ A husband must think of all that his wife needs first. Some men think that this is not a good way to live. They think that other people will laugh at them. In some places, a husband thinks that it is right to beat his wife. In some places, a husband believes that his wife is there to serve him. But it is different with Christians. The Bible says that the husband and wife should love one another. Then they will enjoy a happy married life. As the Bible says:
We have already heard that sex apart from married life is wrong. So, husband and wife should only have sex together. They should not have sex with any other person.
The Bible also speaks about children:
Are you a parent? Do you beat your children? Do you shout at them a lot? Such actions may force them to obey you. But such actions may also make them hate you. When the child is older, he may run away from home. This Bible verse tells you: ‘Don’t make your children be angry’. Encourage your children. Be kind to them. Sometimes you have to tell them not to do something wrong. That is your duty as parents, but you should also encourage them a lot. You should tell your children about Jesus too.
Are you a child? Do you refuse to listen to your parents? You should listen to them. They want things to go well for you. This Bible verse says that you should obey them. This will please them, and they will then be kind to you.
Can you understand how different family life can be for Christians? The real change is that we think about Jesus first. We ask ourselves: ‘What would Jesus do?’ Jesus always thought about other people and what they needed first. He didn’t think about himself. So we think about him and about other people. Then, last of all, we think about what we want for ourselves. This is the real change. We will no longer live in a selfish way. Instead, we try to live like Jesus did.
Most people have to work. If we can work, then we should do so. The Bible says:
God made us so that we would live useful lives. We should not use our time to gossip about other people. The Bible also says that we must work well:
This Bible verse tells us that we should work well at all times. We should do the best job that we can do. We should always tell the truth. We should not steal anything from our place of work. All of these actions will show that Jesus has made a difference to our lives. We should also speak about Jesus to the people that we work with.
The main point of this lesson is to answer the question: How we can become better Christians? This should make a difference to the way we live at home with our families. And it should make a difference to the way we work. You have become a ‘disciple’ of Jesus. Do you remember what this word ‘disciple’ means? It means that we want to become more like Jesus. We want do this for the rest of our life.
We will finish this lesson with a Bible verse for you to learn and to remember. Before we learn this week’s verse, we need to check last week’s Bible verse. Can you remember it?
[Note to the pastor: ask them to say last week’s verse from memory.]
Last week’s verse was:
The new verse for this week is:
This verse reminds us that we should live as God wants us to live. It also tells us that Jesus will return one day. We want that day to come. Why? Because God will create a new heaven and a new earth on that day. He will destroy all that is wrong and all that is evil. Then we will be there with Jesus. And the time that we stay with him will never end.
Repeat this verse each day. Ask God to give you the real desire to become a better Christian every day of your life.
Where you see the word ‘heart’, this does not just mean the heart that makes the blood to go around your body. It is our custom to describe the heart as the centre of our life. When we speak about ‘knowing the truth in your heart’, we mean that you know it for yourself. It has become real to you. It may be your custom to speak in the same way of your mind, or your stomach. You must use the word that fits your customs. This will help people to understand the true meaning of the teaching in these lessons.
In the Bible verse, these words mean the way in which people desire to live when they do not follow Jesus. So these words describe the way that Christians should not live.
A kingdom is the place where a king rules. The kingdom of God is over which God rules. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God may rule more and more on this earth.
© 1997-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
23 May 2003
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