Following Jesus: What’s Next?

So you’ve decided to follow Jesus… yay! =) I’m so glad you’ve chosen to respond to His invitation. No matter where life takes you, God will always be with you to lead you, transform you, and show you His plan for your life. You won’t regret saying “yes” to Him in the long run!

Here are a few simple ways to take the next steps in your journey with God:

1. Tell someone you know you chose to follow Jesus.

“…’Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.'” –Jesus (Mark 5:19)

You’ve essentially (in very human terms) “made up with God” by dropping your angry fist of defiance, recognizing your sin against Him, asking His forgiveness through Jesus, and allowing Him to make you a child of God who obeys all He says to do (Romans 8:1-2, 9-16). Amazing! And as you’ve discovered just how wonderful Jesus is, now’s the time to let others know.

So go! Stand up. Glow. Share Him. Kindly tell others what He’s doing in your life and how you’re changing. Look for the opportunities He’s bringing your way.

Hey, check that out! You’re a reconciler now (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)!

2. Let Him grow you in obedience and show you His ways…daily.

“…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body [the Church], being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies…” –Paul (Ephesians 4:15-17b)

“…The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected…” –John (1 John 2:3-5b)

Following Jesus means we decide daily to choose His way and grow closer to Him (Mark 8:34-38; Luke 6:46-49; Colossians 3:1-17). You have entered into a lifelong process that will transform you. God’s making a new creation out of you, so don’t be surprised when you start seeing the changes (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). It’s a good thing!

Now, He may ask us to let go of a lot of things, even things we really don’t want to… Like, really, really don’t want to…but in our hearts we want to obey…but…aaaah!!!

(Can’t you just feel the conflict?!)

Sometimes it’s down right painful to yield our will and trust He knows best, but remember that God wants to empty our hands to prepare us to receive all of the good He desires to give us (Matthew 7:9-11). He has a specific plan for your life and wants to show you, but you must let Him lead you in it (Jeremiah 29:10-14; Isaiah 30:15-26).

So let Him.

And know that you will face crazy opposition at points (especially from the enemy…read more on that) and may be tempted to quit and give up, but not to worry: God will help you and finish the work He’s started in you (Philippians 1:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). That’s a promise!

3. Start reading God’s Word (the Bible) daily.

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” –Paul (Romans 15:4)

As Christians, it’s so important to learn all we can about Who God says He is, how He acts, and what He wants for us. We also need God to change our old way of thinking by soaking and meditating on His thoughts, promises, commands, and expressions of love and truth. God’s unchanging promises and truth help us stand firm in our faith against attacks, trials, and the sufferings of Christ that Jesus promised we would experience in this world because we are His (Isaiah 40:7-8; James 1:2-7, 12-18; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Ephesians 6:10-18). And where do we find all this?

In God’s Word. (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4-6)

You can get a copy of the Bible in print, on your phone, or online. Just pick a Bible that you can access everyday, translated into a language that you can understand (I like the NASB version), and set a consistent time to read first thing in the day. This time with the Lord in His Word will keep your heart focused and set the tone for the rest of your day.

Now, like working out at the gym, don’t lift more than you can carry!  It takes steady commitment over time to strengthen weak muscles. So, start with a small daily reading goal and build your way up from there. Sometimes, it’s tempting to think we don’t have enough time to read, but it only takes a few minutes a day to read just one chapter of Scripture! And it’s a critical piece of the armor God provides us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” as we face each day.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few selections to help you get you started:

  • Genesis 1-3 (Creation and the beginning of the rescue plan)
  • Genesis 11:27-25:11 (Abraham and God’s great promise)
  • Deuteronomy 1-8 (Israel’s escape and how to honor God)
  • 2 Chronicles 11-20 (God’s interactions with the leaders of His people like Kings Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, and Jehoshaphat… it’s film-worthy stuff!)

(Psst! For a more in-depth reading of the Scriptures, I’ll be posting a 5-10 minutes a day Bible reading plan that you can finish in less than a year!)

You’ll be amazed at how much of the Bible you can read starting at even just 5 minutes a day! And believe me, your appetite for God’s Word will only increase as you faithfully pursue Him. (That’s a good thing! 😉 )

4. Converse with God in prayer daily.

“‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… Or what man is there among you who, when his son ask for a loaf, will give him a stone? …If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!'” –Jesus (Matthew 7:7-11)

“…but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” –Solomon (Proverbs 15:8)

Conversation is a two-way street (at least the best ones are!), and consistent, solid conversation is the bedrock of any relationship, including ours with God. God loves hearing His people come humbly to Him and pray (Matthew 7:7-11; Hebrews 13:12-16; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; 2 Chronicles 7:12-16).

Start your day with talking to God in a quiet place and taking some time in that quiet place to hear His voice. Then, keep checking in with Him throughout the day.

No matter what it is, God invites us to come to Him with everything on our hearts. He will always hear and respond to those who love and obey Him (Proverbs 15:8, 29; 1 John 3:18-22). And just like any good father you know (or heard of), He only gives what is best for His children, that is whatever we ask that is according to His will (and timing!).

Prayers can be as short as a “texting” check in or as long The Neverending Story. You can pray out loud and quietly inside. And prayer can happen at any time and any place because He’s everywhere and knows where we are (Psalm 139)! Shoot, to get away from the noise of a busy house or office, I’ve even retreated to my car and sat in the backseat to meet with God!

If you need help knowing what to say…

When you pray, tell Him whatever concerns you and believe He hears you (1 John 5:13-15). You can ask Him to work in Your life, pause and thank Him for your food every time you eat, admit when you fail Him (or just feel like you have) and repent, tell Him you trust His plans for your life, praise Him for all He’s given you, ask Him for help with the deadline you’re facing, or just tell Him you love Him – He wants to hear from you!

Here a few example prayers from Scripture that you can use too:

He’s also looking for His “sheep to know His voice” and obey Him in everything He says (John 10:1-6, 27-30). If we don’t listen, we will find it harder and harder to hear Him and stay close. He’ll teach you how to hear His voice and help you obey Him too.

So remember to pray and to listen often, with a soft heart and ready mind to obey His every word – it’s our life’s blood!

5. Commit to becoming a consistent part of a faithful, Christ-following church.

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” –Luke (Acts 2:42-47)

Now that you’re a follower of Jesus, you are part of God’s family, His Church, so it’s time to worship God and grow alongside your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-32). Now, this may be an intimidating thought right now – how do you even choose a church anyhow? And what if you’ve had terrible experiences in the past…

I mean, like really terrible?

I hear you. I’ve had a few experiences myself that were doozies. There’s surely no perfect church as of yet. (Remember what I said earlier about being in a process of transformation? Yeah, so clearly being a Christian doesn’t equal being perfect already!) But, there’s hope yet – Jesus is fully committed to perfecting us as His Church (Ephesians 5:25-27).

And what He wants done, gets done.

Wow!

And as believers in Christ, Jesus wants us to join Him in His plans for us His Church, His Bride.

So ask God to help you, expect Him to respond to you, and with a willingness to go wherever He wants, start looking for a church where you can regularly participate, get baptized, and hear from Him alongside fellow believers.

Then, keep going.

Seriously.

Like every week.

I mean it.

Yes, even if…

You really don’t like that song they play over and over…

Or the way they do that thing with the lights…

Or how long the service is…

Or that weird mouth thing the pastor does when speaking…

Or (gals) that persistent older lady who keeps trying to set you up with her nephew…

Or that one usher who shakes your hand like it’s a water pump…yeesh!

Or you just feel like sleeping in…

(come on, now… it’s Jesus we’re pursuing!)

Remember to be kind, hold fast to God’s truth and wisdom, look for signs of a healthy church, and remain open to God’s direction. And please, don’t disrespect His Bride (Hebrews 10:23-25; Ephesians 5:29-32). Because just like God wants to help you know Him and grow in relationship with Him, He also is committed to lead and grow His Church in His ways and in His timing.

It may take a few visits, but He’ll lead you to the right place. You can trust Him!

For a few more resources: