Spiritual Growth Program Phase 1

SPIRITUAL GROWTH PROGRAM
FOR DISCIPLES AND DISCIPLE-MAKERS

Phase 1

Copyright 2006:
Dr. J.M.B. Eloff
johann@mansfield-crc.com
P.O.Box 71 Mansfield, QLD, 4122

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be duplicated in any form without the permission of the publisher.

Fourth edition, 2006.
Printed in Australia.

Foreword

The Spiritual Growth Program as a Personal Devotion Program

Our world today is over-populated. Each day, millions of poor people struggle, just to survive and make a basic living. On the other side of the world, there are people who have all they need to make a good living, and yet in their hearts they are, for some strange reason, deeply dissatisfied. Amongst all these people there are many who have little hope that things will go better for them in the future, and many have completely lost all hope. For this reason, we are all in desperate need of the Good News that comes from the God who made us. The Church, as the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth, is the bearer of this Good News. If the Church becomes silent, the millions of people sinking in despair, will never be given the chance to be saved by Jesus Christ, from the pain in their lives, and the hopelessness of their future.

Unfortunately, many church members don’t really understand what it means to be a member of the body of Jesus Christ in this confused and broken world. They don’t realise that the privilege of church membership carries with it a responsibility to take on a certain role and to carry out a certain task in the world. For many, church membership means little more than to turn up to a church service on Sunday, listen to the minister, sing, and give a bit of money.

The most important task that Jesus Christ gave to the church, was to help people to grow spiritually. Church members have to be taught how to learn from Jesus Christ Himself, how to become the kind of people He meant them to be. If this fails to happen, the church will, without a doubt, become like a dead body, pushed out onto the side-lines, just as spiritually bankrupt as the rest of the world. One may well ask whether the world would even notice the disappearance of this ineffectual church! Once in this position, no emergency strategies will be able to bring this dead church back to life and restore it to a place where it can be of any use. We believe that this Spiritual Growth Program is a dynamic tool for helping church members to get up out of their pews and become part of God’s plan to bring hope to a despairing world. We pray that God will use this program in the lives of people in their churches, to enable them to carry out the task He has given.

Because the task of the Church can only be carried out by obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, the Spiritual Growth Program is presented in the form of personal daily devotions. Church members should be encouraged to use the program regularly during a daily quiet time. As each person meets with the Lord, to learn from Him, He will teach them Himself, all that they need to know about Him. If they follow the practical guide-lines given in the program, they will see positive changes in their lives. God will speak to people, and as they learn to obey Him, they will live lives that please him. This program has been put together prayerfully, and it is Biblical, easy-to-understand and very practical. We trust that you will enjoy using it in your church!

Acknowledgements

In his book, “Personal disciplemaking” (Here's Life Publishers, San Bernardino, VSA. 1988), Christopher B. Adsit sets out the theoretical framework which forms the basis according to which personal disciplemaking takes place. In the book, he also formulates certain objectives towards which personal disciplemakers can work. These objectives are grouped according to phases, as well as particular areas, of spiritual growth. This theoretical study by Christopher Adsit, has been used as the basis for the development of the Spiritual Growth Program for Disciples and Personal Disciplemakers.

There is one additional spiritual growth area which has been incorporated into the program, as well as a number of additional objectives and material to be used by spiritual growth leaders (personal disciplemakers) as they guide disciples in accordance with the stated objectives.

Contributions from the following persons are also acknowledged with thanks: Dr Paul David Tripp; Dr S.J. Eloff; Prof. Flip Buys; Prof. J.L. Weyers; Revs Tiens van der Walt, Fanus Viviers, Gerrie Schoeman, Gawie Malan, and Lukas Neethling; Dr Nico Mulder Mr Costa Vayenas; Mrs M.E. Eloff. Rev. Dirk van der Merwe’s considerable contribution during the first phase of the program’s development deserves special mention. His expertise and continued involvement are sincerely appreciated. Rev. Jan van Heerden deserves special mention for his design of the front page and marketing material.

The translation from Afrikaans to English was done in a competent and responsible way, by Mrs Ianthe van der Walt.


GROWTH PHASE 1 (NEWBORN)


Day 1


Let’s start at the beginning.

You can’t begin to grow until you have been born. In the same way, you can’t begin to grow spiritually until the Living God becomes your Father. When we become children of the Living God, we become like newborn babies.

As a spiritual newborn baby, you have wonderful potential within you. You take after your spiritual “Dad” (God, the Father). If you develop normally and have good, healthy growth, that is, if you grow in obedience to our Heavenly Father, you will start living like Jesus (the Son of God). But first, you need spiritual “antenatal care” (newborn care). That is the work of the Holy Spirit and He chose to use Spirit filled people in our spiritual growth. The only thing that is going to keep you alive spiritually at this point, is easily digested spiritual food, and the love, nurture, closeness and protection of God’s other children. So, another Spirit filled person who really loves God, has to begin immediately providing for your spiritual needs.

You need a Spirit filled person to take on the role of spiritual “midwife” in your life. Someone who can see to it that the process of conversion has taken place completely in every respect. Someone who can help you know for sure that the blood of Jesus Christ has washed you clean from all your sin. Someone who can help you to understand how beautiful our Heavenly Father has made you. Someone who can help you to start drinking spiritual milk for yourself. Someone who can help you to sever (cut through) completely, the umbilical cord that used to attach you to your old, sinful life, so that you can become joined to Jesus Christ. Remember, without Him you can do nothing – you will die spiritually! Read John 15:1-17.

Ask a Christian friend to help you with this process. Now, read 1 Peter 2:2 in your own Bible. Go to some trouble to join a spiritual growth group, a care group, a cell group or a Bible Study group where you feel nurtured and at home.


GROWTH AREA: THE WORD


Day 2


There are certain things you need to know about your new Father.

If you read Genesis 1:1, you will see that your new Father is the Almighty Creator, who made everything out of nothing. In Exodus 3:14, you will read that He is always the same, and never changes. Psalm 14:1,2 says that it is only fools that think God does not exist, while He is very much alive! Psalm 71:19 says there is no-one else like God. In Psalm 77:14, we read that He is the God who does things that make people wonder. In Psalm 90:2 and in Isaiah 41:4, we read that He is God from everlasting to everlasting. Isaiah 45:15 says that He is the only true God. Matthew 19:26 says that with God, all things are possible. John 1:18 says that no-one has ever seen God. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that our Heavenly Father is unapproachable, because He made Himself known to us in Jesus Christ who became flesh. Read John 1:14 and 1 John 1:1-3. Revelation 4:8 says that God is holy.

Now, read these verses in your own Bible, as well as Psalm 103. Then, close your eyes and try to create a picture in your mind of how wonderful your new Father is.

Day 3


Did you know that God speaks to us through the Bible?

Your heavenly Father wants to communicate with you in a special way. He wants to teach you much more about Himself and his will for your life. The Bible is the Word of God to us, people. This is the special way in which our heavenly Father speaks to us. God reveals (makes Himself known) to us through the Bible. He has done this in two different ways in the past. In the time before Christ, God spoke to people through the prophets. Now that Christ has come, God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Read Hebrews 1: 1-3. John calls Jesus Christ the Word of God, who is God Himself and became human. Read John 1: 1-3, 14. This is what John means when he says that he and his fellow apostles are proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Word of Life, whom they have heard and seen and touched with their own hands. God revealed Himself (that is, His Word) to people, and they told and wrote down what they had seen and heard, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Read 2 Timothy 3:16. This is how the Bible came into being, as the vehicle through which God’s Word comes to us.

During the days to come, you will get the opportunity to really listen to what God wants to communicate to you personally, through the Bible as his Word.

Day 4


Do you understand the message of the Bible?

You became a child of God recently, by accepting, through faith, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and that He rose again from death, ascended to heaven and is now preparing a place for you in the eternal “house” of your Heavenly Father.

Let’s make sure you understand where you come from, and where you are heading spiritually. Let’s therefore focus on the message of the Bible for a couple of days. It will help you understand your relationship with your Heavenly Father, and it will help you to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to someone else.

Representatives:

The first thing to understand, is that God created us, human beings, and appointed us as His representatives. In obedience to Him, we were to fill the earth, and cultivate, preserve and rule over all Creation. Read Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15. God gave some rules to show us how to carry out our Creation Task successfully. These rules are contained in the Law – the Ten Commandments. Read Exodus 20:1-17. Jesus Himself came to teach us the right attitude towards the Commandments. In Luke 10:27, He says that we must love God more than anything and our neighbour as ourself. This is the essence of God’s Law and of his will.

Now, look at the following questions, and decide for yourself whether you are busy carrying out God’s Creation Task according to these ten rules, and with an attitude of love: Is anything or anyone more important to you than your Creator? Do you misuse the name of your Creator? Do you do all your work faithfully to the glory of God? Do you set aside God’s Day as a day of rest, for yourself and those who are with you? Do you honour your parents? Do you have respect for your life and the lives of others? Do you have respect for your marriage and the marriages of others? Do you have respect for your property and the property of others? Are you truthful? Are you content with what you have, not begrudging others the good things they have?

So, what is your conclusion? Do you love God more than anything and your neighbour as yourself? Try to remember 1 John 5:3.

Day 5


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?

Sin:

The second thing you have to understand, is “sin”. Sin means to disobey God’s Law, to disregard His Word and to oppose His Will for your life. Read 1 John 3:4. His will for your life is, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind… and to love your neighbour as yourself.” But “sin” is exactly the opposite. It is like ignoring your Creator by living with your back to Him, not returning his love. In 1 John 1:5, we read that God is light. To live with your back to God, then, is like working in the darkness of your own shadow. Sinners are like blind people in the dark, doing the works of darkness! They ignore God, their Creator who wants to have a love relationship with them… who invites them to spend eternity in heaven with Him…

The Bible says that all people are sinners. Read Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1: 8, 10. The fate of sinners is the lake that burns with fire and sulphur – the second death. Read Romans 6:23 and Revelation 21:8.

Remember, this is where you come from. Since, through faith, you have received Jesus Christ as you Lord and Saviour, this is your past. You have been made righteous by God Himself, and you are no longer under condemnation. Sin no longer has authority over you, since you are in Christ Jesus and under God’s grace. Learn Romans 6:14 by heart.

Day 6


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?

Repentance:

The third thing you need to understand is “repentance.” Clearly, we have failed to carry out the Creation Task God has given us, according to the standard set by His Law. Under the original “Covenant of Works” (Creation Task) we have failed to gain God’s approval. So Jesus comes to us with a new covenant (agreement), involving a new task: “Repent and believe.”

God invites each one of us to come and sort out our case with Him. Read Isaiah 1:18. God comes to find us right where we are, in the person of Jesus Christ, who is also called “Emmanuel” – that is: “God with us.” Read Matthew 1:23. He comes to us so that we can have abundant life – eternal life. Read John 10:10.

This is the new “Covenant of Grace.” We are no longer required to satisfy God by doing good works. Instead, we repent of our rebellion towards God, confess our failures and accept His forgiveness and grace. Read Matthew 4:17. To repent means to turn right around, back to God, your Creator, who gave you life. It means bringing your deeds into the light of God’s Word, measuring them against the standard of His Law, so that you can see clearly what you have done wrong, and what God wills for your life. In the light of the Word, you see yourself as you really are. Read Revelation 3:20. Now make sure that you aren’t just occasionally talking to God over your shoulder, but that you have turned right around, with your back to the world and your face to God.

Day 7


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

We are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days. You will do this by answering the following questions. Write your answers in a Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: Has anything happened to you during the past week to make you realise that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in Days 1-6 that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 8


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?


Confession:

Confession means telling God that you are sorry for your sin, and that you are firmly resolved not to commit this sin any longer. It is like when a person who is bankrupt falls on his knees before his creditor and begs for mercy. Read 1 John 1:9. If there is anything that still makes you feel guilty or ashamed, you can tell God about it right now.

Forgiveness:

God promises to forgive you, if you confess your sin to Him. Read 1 John 1:9, and Isaiah 1:18. If there is anything that makes you ‘feel’ guilty or ashamed after you have confessed all your sins and failures to God, then that comes from Satan. Feelings of guilt and shame after being forgiven by Christ, are tools used by Satan to keep us from loving God and our neighbour. This kind of guilt and shame are not sins to repent from, but lies from Satan to be rejected.

Day 9


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?

The Love of God:

Do you understand that it is all about the love of God? God created you in order to be your God and to love you. He loved you even before you were born. Read Psalm 139:15,16 and Ephesians 1:4a. He promised to be the God of nations and generations, including babies and little children. Read Genesis 17:4-7. Through his word, He has been inviting people to respond to his covenant-love initiative, ever since. He has been inviting us to keep his covenant and to love Him back. Read Genesis 17:9-14; James 1:18. Through his word He has been inviting people from all nations and generations to respond to His invitation to love Him back. He kept his covenant by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to reveal his love to us in no unclear terms.

Day 10


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?

Jesus Christ:

Jesus Christ was without sin, but God dealt with Him as a sinner in our place, so that we, through our unity with Him, could be acquitted (found not guilty). Read 2 Corinthians 5: 20, 21.

God wants us to respond to his love. The problem is that we tend to grow up, and turn our backs on Him. He promises to take you back as His child if you accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Saviour (from the guilt, shame and penalty of your sins). Read John 1:12; 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13 and Ephesians 2:8. Accepting Jesus means surrendering your whole life to Him, in faith.

Once you are His child, you are always His child and nothing or no-one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand. The saving work of Jesus is permanent.

Day 11


Do you understand the message of the Bible (continued)?

Faith:

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being convinced of things that we can’t actually see. The things we can’t see, Jesus came to make known to us, and they are written down for us in the Bible. To have faith, then, means to have knowledge of God and His promises (as they are revealed to us in the Bible)… to believe that He is a Promise-keeping God to me, and to give myself over to Him completely because I trust Him with my life. Here is a prayer you can use to respond, in faith, to God’s invitation. Go on your knees now, and, with these words, give your life into His Hand:

Dear Father God, You have said that You want to be my God. I really want to be Your child. By Your Grace, I have turned around and come back to You. I confess that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin, and I know that You will forgive me because Your Son Jesus died on the cross, also for me. I entrust my whole life to You, no matter what it may cost. Lord Jesus, I believe that You will raise me also to life on the last day when You come again, according to Your promise. I open the door of my life, so that you can come in as my Lord and my God. In your Name Lord Jesus, Amen.

Day 12


Do you know the message of the Bible (continued)?

Gratitude:

The Bible teaches us how to thank God for our salvation through our love. In 1 John 5:3 we read that love for God is to obey his commands. We show our gratitude by offering our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice that is acceptable to Him. Read Romans 12:1. This means that our whole life becomes a life of gratitude, and that everything we do to and with our bodies, will be like a holy offering of praise to God. We may not allow ourselves to be squeezed into the world’s mould. Paul urgently appeals to us to allow God to change us by renewing our minds. Then we will understand the will of God.

Read Romans 12:1,2,9-21. Here Paul says that our love must be genuine. We must hate wrong-doing. We must hold fast to what is good. We must love and respect one another as brothers and sisters. We must work hard and serve the Lord. We must rejoice in our future in Christ. Because of this future, we can be patient during hard times. We must never stop praying.

Day 13


Do you desire to hear what God wants to tell you in His Word?

For the past thirteen days, you have been learning new things about the Word of God. Now you need to pause for a moment and examine your own attitude towards the Word of God. Ask yourself the following questions and reflect on them: Do you have a deep desire in your heart to hear what God is saying to you in His Word? Do you listen and search earnestly for what God wants to say to you every time you take this Spiritual Growth Program in your hands?

You won’t experience healthy spiritual growth until God has placed this hunger for His Word in your heart. Pray and ask God to make you deeply aware of His Presence, to place this desire in your heart, and to make it strong!

Read the Bible!

It won’t help much if you have a burning desire to hear what God himself is saying to you in His Word, if you don’t start reading the Bible regularly. So, go to the trouble to get your own Bible, if you have by some chance not yet done so. Look up the text verses in each day’s reading, read them closely and really think about them. You are just like a real disciple, learning from the Lord Himself. You have a wonderful life-time of learning and growing ahead of you. And remember, our Lord will finish the good work He has begun in you! Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24.

Day 14


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

We have said that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days. You can do this again this week by answering the following questions. Write your answers in the same Quiet Time Journal you used last week, so that you can have something to share again at your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: Has anything happened to you during the past week to make you realise that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in Days 7-13 that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.


GROWTH AREA: PRAYER


Day 15


Do you know that we can talk to God by means of prayer?

Read Matthew 6:5-13. Prayer is communicating with God. It involves talking to Him about everything or to voice our thoughts, and it involves listening to Him. Prayer is the way a Christian “breathes”. It is like that first cry made by a new-born baby. The doctor does whatever is necessary to help the baby give this first loud yell, because that is what lets him know that the baby has started healthy breathing. Without this breathing, life is not possible. Nothing is more important for spiritual growth than to respond to God by means of prayer.

God desires that we would speak to Him – that we would share our thoughts, desires, crises, yes, our entire existence with Him, in prayer. He is interested in each and every one of His children, and he is actively involved in everything we think and do. In Genesis 3, we read about how God visited Adam and Eve in the garden, and communicated with them.

Prayer is often difficult because we are not familiar with it, and not used to doing it. Satan will do everything he possibly can to thwart your attempts to pray, because prayer effectively short-circuits his power and authority in your life. You are going to need a lot of help, discipline, patience, perseverance and determination in order to acquire this vitally important art. The Holy Spirit who now lives in you will help you grow in your prayer life.

Day 16


Do you know that we can tell God how we feel, and what we need?

Have a quick look at Psalm 22. Notice how David makes his feelings and needs known to God in his prayer. Although God loves us with intensity and with a passion, we always have to remember that He is God. He is the Creator, King, Saviour and Lord of the universe, and He deserves all our respect, honour and worship. And yet, you can approach Him in prayer, with boldness and complete trust, because in Jesus Christ you have a High Priest: He is your mediator (like an advocate), who intercedes on your behalf with the Father. He is a mediator who was tempted, in the same way that you are, only without sinning. So He understands you completely. God invites you to come to Him and speak to Him. Read Isaiah 55:1-3 and Matthew 11: 28-30. He invites you because He loves You and has adopted you as His own child.

Day 17


Do you know that God answers prayer?

Read Psalm 10:17; 34:15,17; 40:1 and 1 Peter 3:12. Prayer is not just a psychological exercise or a form of meditation that we engage in purely for our own benefit. It is a genuine conversation with God. He speaks to us by means of His Word, the working of His Holy Spirit in our hearts, and even in His day-to-day involvement in maintaining His Creation.
We speak to God and answer him by means of prayer and a life of gratitude… And He answers us also!

Day 18


Do you sometimes experience a desire to talk to God about how you are feeling and what you need?

Read Philippians 4:5-7. As a believing child of God, when you have made your desires known to God, you can experience His peace, which is far more wonderful than our human minds can understand. Pray and ask God to place a strong desire in your heart to speak to Him about the way you feel right now, and about what you need, and just, simply, about yourself.

Day 19


Do you want to try and speak to God by yourself?

By now you know that we can speak to God by means of prayer, that we can tell him how we feel and what we need, and that He is willing and eager to answer our prayers. Wouldn’t you like to try and talk to Him by yourself? You can start by talking to Him every day during your Quiet Time, the same time you set aside to work on this Spiritual Growth program. In this way, your Quiet Time can become a regular part of your day (perhaps early in the morning) when you have an appointment, on your own, with our Heavenly Father.

A Quiet Time consists of two parts. The first part is when you learn from God, as you have been doing during the past number of days, and the other part is when you talk to God. During your Quiet Time, you open yourself up so that God can speak to you by means of His Word and His Spirit. Then, you think this over for a while, to make it your own, and you respond to what God has been saying to you, by praying to Him. As a rough guide, you could spend half your Quiet Time reading the Bible and the other half praying. The writers of this Spiritual Growth program are eager to help you to learn more about God and to spend wonderful moments together with Him in prayer. We invite you to read the prayer in Matthew 5:5-13 again, because it is the best example of prayer in the whole Bible...that is how our Lord Jesus taught his disciples to pray.


GROWTH AREA: PERSONAL GROWTH


Day 20


On what do you fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God?

How do you feel, now that you have entrusted your life to God? You will probably experience a deep feeling of relief, joy or satisfaction. I am glad for you and I am very happy to be able to welcome you into the Lord’s family. I really want you to know that you have not just joined another club. You have become the eternal child and heir of the Living God. You have become a citizen of His Kingdom. It is perhaps only later that you will really understand the extent and eternal significance of this.

Perhaps you were expecting special “Hollywood” effects following your “prayer of surrender” to God. If you don’t feel the way you imagine a child of God is supposed to feel, then I want to explain to you the role of feeling and emotions in the life of a Christian. Let’s use the image of a steam train to represent the Christian life. The train consists of a locomotive (knowledge of God and His Word), the coal wagon (trust in God and His Word) and a guard’s van (emotion as the fruit of our faith and obedience). The train can run with or without the guard’s van (emotion). It certainly wouldn’t make any sense to try and pull the train with the guard’s van. Similarly, the locomotive (knowledge) can only run when coals (trust) are loaded from the coal wagon into the locomotive.

In the same way, you must not fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God on your emotions, that are always changing. Rather, you must place your faith and trust in the sure facts of God’s promises in the Bible (His Word). This sure knowledge is what will keep the “train” of your Christian life running steadily along the track.

So, your faith needs to be anchored in the trustworthiness of the Lord – that He can and will fulfil His promises in your life. Even when you feel far from God, and even if you don’t always feel like a child of God, you can still know that you are His child and heir. Everything depends on God faithfully carrying out His promises, and not on the way you feel about things. This is the truth that sets us free. Now read Psalm 119:105; John 8:32 and Hebrews 10: 22,23. Tomorrow we’ll talk some more about faith.

Day 21


What have you learned from the Lord Jesus Christ this week?

We have said that we will give you a chance every seventh day to reflect on what you have been learning from the Lord during the previous six days. You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in the same Quiet Time journal you used last time, so that you can share something with others at your next cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened during the past week to help you realise that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord been teaching you during the last week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in Days 15-20 that you didn’t understand or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 22


Let’s talk some more about your assurance that you are a child and heir of God.

You need to understand that the prayer you prayed when you gave your life to the Lord, was not an enchanted formula that magically picked you up and deposited you into the Kingdom of God, the minute you uttered the words, like in some kind of Fairy Tale. That prayer was an honest expression of your attitude towards God. At that moment, God adopted you as His child, by grace, because you put your trust in Him alone. Read what is written in John 1:12, Romans 3:28, Galatians 3:26; 4:6; Ephesians 2:8,9, and Timothy 1:9.

Day 23


Do you know that there is a difference between “belief in Jesus Christ” and “faith in Jesus Christ”?

Fruit farmers sometimes do an interesting thing. When they have a fruit tree that has always born exceptionally delicious fruit, but has now become too old to bear well, they cut a young, green shoot off of the old tree and trim the cut end to make it flatter. Then they make a T-shaped cut into the bark of a young, healthy fruit tree and they push the flattened end of the shoot underneath the bark where the T-shaped cut was made. Then they bind up the bark with a special kind of tape. In this way, they “graft” a shoot from the old tree into a new, young tree. Now the young tree can draw nutrients out of the soil and carry them to the shoot. A shoot which has been engrafted like this can start bearing exceptionally delicious fruit once more.

To have faith in Jesus Christ is like being cut off, like a shoot, from your old, sinful life, and being grafted into Jesus Christ to become one with Him, just as the new shoot becomes one with the tree. Read John 15:1-11 and Romans 11:17-24.

To believe in Jesus, that is, to believe that Jesus exists, does not really get you anywhere. As James explains in James 2:19, even the devil “believes in Jesus”! But the devil is not grafted into Christ. There are a great many people who believe that Jesus Christ existed, but they have never surrendered their lives to Him in faith.

Day 24


Why do you sometimes doubt that you are a child and heir of God?

You have to realise that now, on top of the normal day-to-day problems in your life, you have acquired Satan as your enemy! You are intensely vulnerable. Satan’s first goal with you is going to be to convince you that your “prayer of surrender” meant nothing. He wants to destroy the seed of God’s Word before it gets a chance to take root, grow and bear fruit in your life. Read Matthew 13:4,19. Remember, if Satan gets his way with you, then you will say, later in your life, “I tried being a Christian but it just didn’t work for me.”

Satan’s best weapon is getting people to have doubts about the truth. Once people start to doubt, he can dish them up any old lie for the truth. This is how he seduces people away from God. You can’t run away from Satan. You have to resist him by pushing the truth that God has revealed to you in the Bible, in his face.

Day 25


Do you understand who the “new you” is?

In order really to understand the “new you”, we have to stay for a moment with the “old you.” I would really like to try and show you the condition God has saved you from. The reason for this is not to make you feel guilty all over again about how bad you used to be; rather it is to help you understand just how wonderful the “new you” is. The Bible says: You were a condemned sinner (Romans 3:23; 6:23); your sins were separating you from God (Isaiah 59:2); you would have spent eternity in hell (Revelation 21:8); you were not capable of pleasing God (Isaiah 64:6). And to think that Jesus Christ has saved you from all of that and made you brand new!

For more information on the "old" and "new" you, click here.

Day 26


Do you understand who the “new you” is (continued)?

It is important to understand the good news about the “new you”, and to relate to it personally. God made you alive together with Jesus Christ when He forgave all your sins. He destroyed the record that contained all the charges against you. He removed it forever. He also sent the Spirit of the risen Christ into your heart, making you spiritually alive, and enabling you to call Him Father. Read what Galatians 4:6 and Colossians 2:13,14 says about this. Paul uses legal terms here to refer to the acquittal that Jesus Christ obtained for you. God took the original “IOU” on which all your sins had been written up against you, and He nailed it to the cross of Jesus. And Jesus paid for your debt with His life. Your debt has been settled. You are completely absolved from the sins of your past, present and future – that is grace! The “new you” is completely free of guilt!

Day 27


Do you understand who the “new you” is (continued)?

The record with the charges against you has been destroyed, but remember that you have an enemy: Satan has kept a “copy” of your “IOU.” He will try and bring charges against you, but “copies” carry no weight. In the Courtroom of God, the Judge, only original documents count.

You are truly free and you must not allow yourself to be intimidated or manipulated by feelings of guilt, and paralysed, by Satan’s attempts to make you believe that you are still guilty before God. Your sin has been forgiven by God and forgotten. Read Hebrews 10: 15-17. Jesus Christ has paid your debt. If you doubt this, then you are doubting God’s Word. Anyone who wants to lay guilt on you again, does not acknowledge the saving work of Jesus Christ in your life, and will have to answer to God for it!

Day 28


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in Days 22-27 that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 29


Do you think it is possible to be sure that you are a child and heir of God?

There are many promises in God’s Word. God makes these promises for His children – for you! Remember, God promises that His children are also His heirs. This inheritance is written down in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. This means that you can fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God, on God Himself. God Himself has made the promises and God can be trusted to keep His promises. You cannot offer your faith to God, as an act of goodness that somehow deserves God’s favour. The thing to depend on is not the strength of your faith, but the faithfulness of God.

All through your life as a Christian, the Holy Spirit will keep on confirming to you that you are a child of God, by making God’s promises come true in your life. Read Romans 8:16. The things that disturb God’s Spirit will also begin to disturb your spirit. For example, it will begin to disturb you when somebody uses the Lord’s name in vain. Things that are important to God will start to become important to you. The Holy Spirit will teach you, and bring to your mind everything that Jesus Christ taught and commanded us (John 14:26). He will enable you to call on God as your Father (Romans 8:15). You are no longer a slave. You need not live in fear any longer. You are a child of God and a citizen of His Kingdom, because you have been born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3–5).

Now, read Hebrews 10:22,23. If you are sure that you are a child and heir of God, you need to share this with somebody straight away.

Day 30


Do you know how the Holy Spirit works in your life?

Read Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15. We can’t talk about the Holy Spirit without first understanding who God is. The Bible teaches us that God is Three-in-one (the Holy Trinity). This means that He reveals Himself to us in three distinct ways. This is difficult for our human minds to comprehend in this life, but when we get to heaven, we will understand it completely.

God makes Himself known to us as our Heavenly Father, and our Mighty Creator. He also makes Himself known to us as the Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Saviour, because He shed His blood for us on the cross. He also makes Himself known to us as the Holy Spirit, who makes us holy, and who is called our Comforter, because He is the one who comes to live in our hearts when we become God’s children. Read Romans 8:9-11.

Wherever the Father is present and busy working, the Son and the Spirit are also present and busy working. Wherever the Son is present and busy working, the Father and the Spirit are also present and busy working. Wherever the Spirit is present and busy working, the Father and the Son are also present and busy working.

Father, Son and Spirit – One Divine Being. This God is closer to you than your own breath!

Day 31


Do you know how the Holy Spirit works in your life (continued)?

God causes the gospel to be preached to us. The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds so that we can understand it clearly, and discern between right and wrong. He also penetrates our hearts, opens up what was closed, softens what was hard, heals what was broken and makes new what was old. What was bad in my heart, He changes to good. He gives me new tastes and appetites, and a new will. My “I won’t!” is turned into “I will!” My disobedience is changed to obedience.

The Bible calls this work of the Holy Spirit, “being born again.” Read John 3:1-8. God uses this spiritual rebirth to make us willing and able to carry out His Will. Read Philippians 2:13. A born-again person is truly free to obey God. Read what Romans 8:4 says. When the Holy Spirit lives inside you, there is a power available to you that wasn’t there before. The Holy Spirit comes to do new things in your life. The seed is sown into good ground and the new life comes up, like a strong, young plant. The wonderful adventure of growth in the Spirit lies ahead of you! Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

Day 32


Do you know how the Holy Spirit works in your life (continued)?

Read Galatians 5:13-26. You have to remember that you have two natures living inside you: The sinful nature and the Spirit-controlled nature. Read Romans 8:5, and put a marker in the place, because we are going to come back to Romans 8. The things that your sinful nature is keeping you busy with, are hostile to God. The sinful nature does not submit to God’s Will, regard His Word, or obey His Law. Have a look at Romans 8:7. However, the nature that submits to the control of God’s Holy Spirit is capable of doing what God requires. Read Romans 8:4,5.

To read more about your new identity in Christ and the 2 natures living inside you, click here.

Day 33


Do you know how the Holy Spirit works in your life (continued)?

Read Matthew 7:15-23. The Bible describes your life as a child and heir of our Heavenly Father and as a disciple (pupil) of Jesus Christ. To be an authentic child and heir of God and disciple of Jesus Christ, your behaviour has to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This also means that you allow Him to be Lord of your whole life. This is what Romans 8, which you have already read a few times now, is all about. Because Jesus Christ is in you, the Holy Spirit lives within you too. Read Romans 8:9,10 and Galatians 3:26, 4:6.

Your spiritual growth as a believer is a step-by-step process of deliberately submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit. You have to submit your way of thinking, your will and tastes, your emotions and the things you do, to the Holy Spirit. A tree is known by its fruits. Someone who submits to the Holy Spirit is known by the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in his life. Read Galatians 5:22,23.

Day 34


Do you know how the Holy Spirit works in your life (continued)?

The spiritual growth process goes hand-in-hand with confession of sin and guilt. This is the process whereby, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you put to an end your sinful ways of doing things, and God’s image is restored within you.

Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit now lives in you, and He will bring your mortal body to life by the same power. In this way, you will inherit what God has made available(bequeathed) to you, as His heir – eternal life! Read Romans 8:17.

And now God asks you very earnestly to allow yourself to be directed by his Holy Spirit. He entreats you to put an end to your sinful way of life. Please read Romans 8:12; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:18 and 1 John 5: 14, 15.

Day 35


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in Days 29 – 34 that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 36


Do you truly accept that God loves you and do you desire to live according to the example set by Jesus?

Read John 3:16 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. In these passages, John and Paul are making sure you know that God loves you personally. Pray right now and tell God yourself that you accept His love. Also tell Him that you are eager to live according to the example set by Jesus Christ. Tell Him that you want to do what Jesus would do, and you want to do what the Bible says you must do. Thank Him for loving you and making you his child and heir even though you don’t deserve it, just out of grace.

Day 37


Are you really sure that you are a child and heir of God?

If you want to anchor a boat securely to make sure it doesn’t run onto the rocks, you have to find a secure anchoring ground to fasten it onto. If you fasten the anchor to the boat itself, the waves and the wind will still drive the boat onto the rocks. That is why you have to find a secure anchoring ground outside of the boat itself. In the same way, you can’t fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God onto your own ideas or feelings (quickly take another look at day 20). You have to fasten your assurance to something outside of yourself, to what God has revealed about Himself, and to what He has promised you (knowledge of God and His promises as he has revealed them to us in the Bible).

Suppose three [1]“...men are walking along the top of a narrow wall. The first man is called Facts, the second Faith and the last, Feelings. As long as the middle man, Faith, keeps his eyes on Facts, he can walk securely and steadily on the wall. If he turns around and looks over his shoulder at Feelings, he starts to wobble and feel insecure.”

Let’s take a look at a few facts or “knowledge anchoring grounds” you can use to fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God, really securely:
• Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins (in the year 33 A.D. during the term of office of Pontius Pilate.)
• After His death He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea.
• On the third day He rose from the dead and appeared to various people (1 Corinthians 15:3). This event is fixed in history. It can never change.
• By His resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that His death was no accident, but part of God’s redemption (salvation) plan, as it had been foretold by prophets more than a thousand years previously.
• By healing the sick, walking on water and quieting the storm, driving out demons, bringing the dead back to life and rising from the dead Himself, Jesus proved that He is God and that He is able to carry out His promises to us (John 14:11).
• Because we believe in the risen Christ, God adopts us as His children. Because we are His children, He sends the Spirit of His Son (teh risen Christ) into our hearts, enabling us to call Him 'Father' (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).

Day 38


Are you really sure that you are a child and heir of God (continued)?

Yesterday we looked at a few “knowledge anchoring grounds” to which you can securely fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God. Let’s take a look, now, at some “promise anchoring grounds.” As we saw yesterday, God has accomplished certain things: These things are historical facts, and they demonstrate that God is who He says He is. Because we now have this secure knowledge about God, we know that we can also trust Him to keep these promises that He has made to us:
• Jesus Christ stands at the door of your life and He knocks on it. He promises that if you hear His voice and open the door, He will come in and feast with you as your Friend (Revelation 3:20).
• God the Father promises that if you confess your sins to Him with a sincere heart, He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you of all that is filthy and ugly in your life (Read 1 John 1:9).
• Jesus Christ promises to give you, who accept Him by believing in Him, the right to become a child of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; 4:6). God Himself testifies to this truth: God has given you Eternal Life through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you have the Son, you also have Eternal Life. If you accept the testimony of God Himself, then you can be sure you have the Eternal Life He promises you here. You can be certain of this because God Himself has said it is so, and you accept and believe God’s testimony (1 John 5:10-13).
• There is now no longer any condemnation for you, who belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).
• You are a new person now. Your old, bad life, is over; your new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).
• Jesus Christ promises that nothing will be able to grab you out of the Father’s Hand (John 10:29). Nothing can ever separate you from the love God has for you, in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:38,39).
• God the Father makes this promise to you, who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ: He promises to raise you up from the dead at the last day, so that you can inherit Eternal Life (John 6:40).
• You can be absolutely certain that God loves you, no matter how you are feeling right now.

Day 39

Are you really sure that you are a child and heir of God (continued)?

Perhaps you still have some uncertainty in your heart about whether you really are a child and heir of God, or not. If this is the case, why don’t you look up any five (or all) of the following verses, and spend some time thinking about what they say:

John 3:16-18; 5:24; 6:37,51; 10:27-29; 11:25,26; 17:1-3; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Romans 8:1-3,31-39; 10:13; Ephesians 1:4-7,13,14; Colossians 1:12-14; 2:3,14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Hebrews 7:24,25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 2:12; 4:10,15-17; Revelation 1:5,6).

Day 40


Are you really sure that you are a child and heir of God (continued)?

We have looked at “knowledge anchoring grounds”, and “promise anchoring grounds”, to which you can securely fasten your assurance that you are a child and heir of God. Today we are going to look at the testimony of the Holy Spirit, as an anchoring ground for assurance.

Read Romans 8:16 and Galatians 3:26 and 4:6. God’s Spirit comes and lives in our hearts the moment we surrender our lives into His Hand. God’s own Spirit convinces us that we are His children. All through our lives as children of God, the Holy Spirit confirms to us that we are God’s children. He does this by keeping His promises to us in our lives. When the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, the things that are important to God, also become important to us. The Holy Spirit reminds us of all the things that Jesus Christ promised and commanded (John 14:26)... and He will never leave nor forsake us! Read John 14:16.

Day 41


Have you started joining in with church activities yet?

If you haven’t been in a church for a while, or perhaps ever, it can be rather a daunting experience... especially if you have to do it on your own. People who have established a routine of going to church over many years, often don’t realise how strange and difficult it all can be for a new person. It helps a lot if you can first join in with one of the cell groups in a church. It could be a growth group, a care group, a cell group or a Bible Study group of your choice. It always helps if a member of the group invites you to come along to a meeting.

Remember, though, if the members of a church don’t know about you, they can’t invite you. The minister of the church is the best person to start with, if you find you have to take the first step yourself. Introduce yourself to him and ask for information about the activities in his church. Then he can introduce you to the leaders of the activities you are interested in, and they will invite you to their meetings. Once you have made a few friends, it will be easier to come to worship services and become a member of the church.

Day 42


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in the previous six days that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.


GROWTH AREA: FAMILY LIFE


Day 43


Do you know why God joins people together in marriage?

It may be that you are not yet married, or even in a love-relationship with anybody. Perhaps you are divorced, or your life-partner has already passed away or you intend not to get married. Possibly you were, or still are, very unhappy in your parents’ home, or in your own marriage. It doesn't matter. Please do the daily readings relating to family life, just the same. I realise it may seem to you like an unnecessary exercise. You may even find it painful to read about love relationships, when it seems that someone may never come along for you. This is a difficult area for singles who don’t want to be single. This may bring some hope to a frustrating situation to know that God is in control. With God all things are possible!

Use these daily readings as an opportunity to shape your thinking and prepare yourself for marriage. You can also use them to return in your mind to the painful experiences of your parental home, or your own marriage. You can use this as an opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness for the ways you have hurt other people, or for yourself, to forgive those who have hurt you. In this way, you can let God use what has happened in the past to help you grow and be healed of the pain of things that lie behind you, and to grow closer to Him.

There are many people today who feel that it is not necessary to be married. For various reasons, they choose to live together, unmarried. You need to understand that marriage was God’s idea. He instituted it Himself (Genesis 2:18). His purpose with marraige was, on the one hand, that a man and a woman who love each other, would make each other happy, for as long as they both live. His purpose on the other hand, was that these two people would glorify Him by means of their relationship with Him, with each other, with their children, in the church and in society as a whole. He wants them to have one and the same attitude of love, in all these different relationships, and in this way to be a witness of God’s love in the world. Now read Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 10:25-28; Romans 15:5-7.

Day 44


Do you know why God joins people together in marriage (continued)?

God knows our deepest longings. As “selves”, on our own, we human beings experience a kind of loneliness, almost a helplessness. Because the Lord knows and understands the deep needs of our hearts, He has made provision for us. In His great wisdom, He created a woman and brought her to the man (Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 18:22.) Man and woman were God’s provision for each other, and thus marriage came into being, instituted by the One who desires to help His human creatures to live meaningful lives, to His glory.

Sometimes the Lord gives an individual the gift of remaining single. Unless this is the case, however, we humans can only be truly happy when, by God’s provision, we are married (Genesis 2:20-22). When Adam received and accepted the gift of the wife God brought to him, he acknowledged that she was the perfect answer to the problem of his loneliness and incompleteness (Genesis 2:23).

God’s intention is for us, human beings, to have our personal needs met in marriage, so that we can carry out our calling as His creatures, in the best way possible. It does not necessarily mean that we need all our personal needs met before we can be effective for God. Sometimes it is better not to have all our needs met, if we want to serve God, for then we are even more dependent on Him and less on ourselves. But the reason we marry is to be able to glorify Him better and to enhance our calling from God.

Day 45


Do you know why God joins people together in marriage (continued)?

One must accept one’s marriage partner as a gift from God, to help and hone (rub the rough edges off) one, to God’s glory

Do you ever wonder (or maybe when you are married some day, you will) if your marriage partner is really God’s choice for you? Perhaps you went ahead (or you are going to) and picked out a partner according to your own wisdom, without seeking God’s guidance. If you are still unmarried, you must make very sure this doesn’t happen! But if it does happen (or if it already has) you must confess this to the Lord and ask Him to forgive you for it.

The good news is that you can accept that the Lord can even take your self-willed choice and work it into his Plan. This is what happened with the couples in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16. They were married before they came to know God. Later some of the men and some of the women came to know God. From the passage in 1 Corinthians 7, it is clear that God still regarded them as marriage partners, and their marriages were still legitimate in His eyes.

Day 46


Do you know how God joins people together in marriage?

There are three principles that are very important for every marriage. In Genesis 2:24, we read that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave (be joined) to his wife, and that they are to be united (become one flesh).

Leave: The unity God wants to see in marriage is possible only if both partners somehow detach themselves from the early parent-child bond they have with their parents. This act of detachment is portrayed in public by means of a legal procedure, performed at a wedding. The marriage between a man and a woman also concerns the state and society as a whole. It is important for the people around them, and society in general, to be aware that these two people have taken an oath before God to be faithful to one another until they are parted by death. This is why it is important for a wedding between a man and woman who love each other, to take place in public, and for the marriage to be legitimized according to the rules of the state. For this reason, the man and woman sign a legal contract, before witnesses, and under the supervision of a legal representative appointed by the state.

Cleave: This beautiful old word means more than just to “adhere”. It means to “adhere closely” and it is a very apt word to describe the strong bond of love that exists between two people. We can say that a married couple are “glued together” even “welded together” in love to form a unique whole. A new relationship comes into being between them, which is totally different from the relationship they had before. To “cleave” to your marriage partner means deliberately to remain so closely bonded that no other person is closer to you than your marriage partner; nothing comes before him/her in your life – except God, who brought you together. It is possible to be this close to one person, and one only. This “cleaving” love is important in marriage, because it is a grown-up love that expresses itself in mutual faithfulness.

Become one flesh: Because a man and a woman who love one another leave behind their earlier attachments to other people and they bind themselves to each other before God and other people, these two people in fact become one. Marriage means that they are going to share with one another everything their lives consist of (comprehensive personal community). This includes their relationship with God, their dreams and ideals, their hopes and desires, their feelings and needs, their fears and pleasures, their interests and talents, their support and patience, their understanding and longsuffering.....and their bodies. By the way in which they become physically one, by caring for each another, pampering and caressing each another, and by having sexual intercourse, they actively express this unity of the marriage bond that they have with each another. This is a very special, God-ordained part of marriage. In the context of marriage these physical comforts and pleasures are meant to be enjoyed without shame or guilt.

Sometimes people think that a marriage without children is not a whole and complete marriage. This is not true. A marriage is a very special relationship, instituted by God Himself, and it is already a significant social unit, even before children come along. If, because of circumstances, there are no children, it is still a full-fledged marriage, and the partners are still fully man and wife to each other. Children are an additional blessing in a marriage (Psalm 127:3). Children also give a married couple the opportunity to grow as parents.

Day 47


Do you know how Satan tries to destroy a marriage?

Read 1 Peter 5:8,9. Satan wants people to be unhappy with their lives – but not only that: His highest goal is to prevent us from living to God’s glory. If he can make it so that people are not honouring God, first and foremost, in their marriage relationships, then that fits right in with his plans.
Marriage gives Satan many opportunities to exploit human vulnerability and thus destroy what is beautiful in our love lives: Here are some human weaknesses and typical circumstances that play into right his hands:
• Unbelief, unfaithfulness, suspicion and mistrust, disunity, ignorance, disobedience.
• Forgetting or just ignoring God’s purpose for marriage.
• Forgetting that we actually belong to God, not ourselves.
• Social occasions with suggestive dancing, drinking, smoking and dirty jokes, and the opportunity to get drawn into extra-marital relationships.
• Only being interested in each other‘s bodies – limiting the relationship to the superficial and physical.
• Thinking that just because the wedding took place in a church, this guarantees God’s approval and blessing.
• Discovering after the wedding that marriage is not what we dreamed it would be – becoming disillusioned.
• A spirit of deadly competition between man and wife.
• Reacting negatively to each other’s weaknesses.
• Each partner thinking that he or she alone is in the right.
• Making unrealistic demands on each other.
• Continually comparing our marriage partner to someone else.
• After a while, beginning to doubt that our spouse was the right person to choose for a life partner.
• Becoming too busy for each other, and beginning to live separate lives.
• Getting into circumstances where a third person (or something else, like work or drink or sport) begin to have a greater attraction for us than our marriage partner.
• Allowing relatives (or other people) to interfere in the marriage to an unhealthy extent.
• Not succeeding in relating to each other intimately, in relaxed conversation and during sexual intercourse.
• Not succeeding in reading the Bible and praying together every day.
• Not working purposefully at communicating clearly with each other about our needs, unselfishly meeting each other’s needs, and serving each other in love (even in ways that require us to make sacrifices.)
• Buying in to the idea that our dull marriage-life is normal, that it can’t be changed, and that this is just the way it is in a marriage.

The good news is that Satan’s vicious tactics for stealing the joy out of our marriages can be thwarted. We are God’s children and He wants to help us to weed out the things in our thoughts and our lives that are preventing us from honouring Him and being happy in marriage.

Day 48


Do you know God’s model for a successful marriage?

Our marriages don’t always come up to God’s ideal in every respect, and neither will they always do so. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean we have to just settle for a mediocre marriage that falls far short of God’s ideal. God gives us a life-time to grow closer to His ideal for us personally and for our relationships. Remember, when problems come up, the fault lies not with marriage, but with the people in the marriage.

The Bible often represents a person’s life as a house. Sometimes a person lives alone in his house and he is the boss of the house, the king of the castle. He makes the rules and he does as he pleases. He lives for himself, because his life is completely self-centred. When two such people get married, there’s a big collision. The reason for this is easy to see: There is no room for two bosses in the same house, or even for a “king and queen” in the same castle, because they will be challenging each other all the time. In the same way there is no room in a marriage for two self-centred people who are both trying to get their own way all the time. There will be constant conflict: Who will win? Who will give in? Who will be the least in a situation?

There is only one solution: Both “king” and “queen” have to climb off of their “thrones” and acknowledge Jesus Christ as the King of their lives. God’s solution for our marriage dificulties is first and foremost for each one of us to get to know Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. Then we also have to accept His supreme authority over us as our King, and live our practical day-to-day lives according to His rules. This is God’s model for giving us victory over the problems and conflicts we experience between ourselves in marriage.

Day 49


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in the previous six days that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 50


Do you have respect for your marriage and family life, and for the marriage and family life of others?

Pray for your parents, for their marriage (if they are still alive, and married) and for yourselves, as a family, even if you and your siblings are no longer living with your parents. Pray for your own marriage partner, marriage and family, if you are married and have children of your own. Ask God to give you an attitude of respect for your own marriage (if you are married) and for the marriages of others, and to strengthen this attitude in your heart.

This is the right way to protect your marriage (if you are married) against break-up. This is the right way to strive for a happy marriage, the way God intended it when He originally instituted marriage.

If you are married, you are welcome to answer the following questions honestly for yourself, in the light of what the Lord is saying, also to you, in Genesis 2:24. Otherwise, you can just read the questions through and learn something from them about the way your marriage should look one day:
• Are you and your marriage partner great friends?
• Of the following people, who means the most to you: your marriage partner, your child/children, another person, some cause or business interest?
• Are you allowing family or friends to interfere in your marriage in an unhealthy way?
• Are you completely satisfied when it comes to sex in your marriage? Do you think your partner is satisfied?
• Can you say with certainty that your most important and intimate relationship with another person is the relationship you have with your marriage partner?
• Can you also say with certainty that, in love, and as an assignment from God, you are pursuing a marriage relationship that is good in every respect?

If you are single, you are also welcome to answer the following questions:

• Are you keeping yourself holy while God prepares someone special for you?
• Do you trust that God’s choice of partner will be perfect for you?
• Are you asking God in prayer for someone special to spend your life with?
I understand that this is a difficult area for you who are still single and really don’t want to be single. May the fact that God is always in control, bring some hope into the frustrating situation you find yourself in.


GROWTH AREA: FELLOWSHIP


Day 51


Do you know that you are part of God’s family?

Read through Matthew 12: 46-50, Mark 10: 29-31 and Luke 18:29. The good news is that you are part of God’s family! You are going to go through, amongst other things, the good times and the hard times of being a Christian, together with this new family. You need never be an alone-Christian! The best part of belonging to this family, is that you will experience together with them, not only the sweet and sour of this life, but also eternal life, as Jesus promised.

Day 52


Do you experience a need to make contact with fellow-believers and to take an active part in the life of God’s family?

Maybe you feel you can get along quite well enough without other believers, or that Christianity is a “private matter.” Perhaps, in the past, other Christians or churches have disappointed you or even hurt you. It could be that you have had some experience of nominal Christians (people who call themselves Christians, but are not really children of God because they have never surrendered their lives to Him.) It is really important for you to know that Jesus Christ wants to give you a spiritual home, where you can also be a brother or sister to other lonely people. Read John 17: 20-26. Pray to God and ask Him to plant and grow this attitude in your heart, and to send you to the church that is right for you.

Day 53


You really need to go to some trouble to make contact with fellow believers!

What you are looking for in a church is fellow believers. Now you are probably wondering how you will know when a church really is the “true church” and not a false church. How will you know which church to join? Well, the way to recognize the true church is to look for three things:
• The Word of God (that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ as our only Saviour, risen and glorified) is preached faithfully as it is written in the Bible;
• The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are celebrated as the Bible teaches;
• Church discipline (to hold each other accountable) is applied with love.

So, the three marks of the true church are the pure preaching of the Word, the pure administration of the sacraments and the pure application of church discipline. Read John 14:6, 1 John 5:12, Matthew 26: 26-29, Matthew 28: 18-20 and Matthew 18:15-17. Join a church that meets these three criteria and where God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are worshipped, and get involved in the activities of the church. Go and love the people in the church where God sends you.


GROWTH AREA: WITNESSING


Day 54


Do you know that a Christian must testify to others that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour?

Witnessing (or testifying), for a Christian, means telling others what he has himself heard, seen, read and experienced of Jesus Christ. Read 1 John 1:1-4. For a newborn baby it is absolutely critical to cry, so that he can get oxygen into his lungs. It is every bit as important for you, as a new Christian, to tell someone else (to “confess with your mouth”) that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.. Witnessing doesn’t mean that you have to understand everything or be able to explain everything. You only have to tell what you know. Now read Matthew 10: 32, 33 and Romans 10: 8-11.

Day 55


Do you know that Satan tries to make young Christians doubt their salvation in Jesus Christ?

Yes, it’s true. Satan goes out of his way to make young Christians, especially, doubt their salvation in Jesus Christ. But this even happens to people who have been Christians for years. He is going to try and make you doubt. Now that you have been warned, you can prepare yourself to resist him when he does it. Read 1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 2:4,5,7; Zechariah 3:1; Mark 4:15; Luke 4:6-8; 22:31; John 13:2,27; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4,14,15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.

Day 56


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in the previous six days that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 57


Do you have a burning desire in your heart to tell someone that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour?

If you understand the message of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour (see days 4-12) and it touches your heart very deeply, you will feel compelled by His love and you will simply not be able to keep quiet about it. First read Acts 4: 1-22 through carefully, and then read John 18 – 21 the same way, so that you can come to a deep realisation of what Jesus Christ did – also for you. Pray to God and ask Him to plant in your heart this desire to tell someone about Him, and to make the desire grow strong.

Day 58


Now the time has come to tell someone that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour

Today you are going to face a challenge: If your heart is full of joy and love for the Lord, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Find someone you can trust with your deepest feelings, and tell that person what you believe about Jesus Christ. Of course the best thing would be to look that person in the eye as you are telling the good news. If this is not possible, you can phone. Don’t forget to say that you believe that John 3:16 is true for you. Once you have told this to one person, it will be easier to tell the next person. Don’t keep the good news to yourself. Now that you have told one person, go ahead and tell someone else.


GROWTH AREA: MINISTRY


Day 59


Do you know that the Lord wants to prepare you and use you for a special task in His service?

Maybe you are still feeling a bit new and strange as a child of God. Or else, maybe you have become so well integrated into a church-family that you feel as if you have been a child of God for years. I trust that you have in fact found a real spiritual home with other children of the Lord. Have you managed to tell someone, yet, that Jesus Christ is your Saviour and Lord? Do you realise that in this way the Lord has already started using you in the lives of others? If by some chance you have not realised this yet, then you really need to read 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 through carefully. Then, Lord willing, we can come back at a later stage to this exciting subject.

Day 60


Are you excited about the fact that the Lord wants to use you in His service?

Maybe you don’t feel at all ready for what you read about yesterday in 1 Corinthians 12. Maybe you think it sounds a bit strange. Don’t worry. The Lord will not expect you to do anything without first preparing you for it. We are going to go on this journey together, and the Holy Spirit will lead you very clearly. Pray to God now, and ask Him on the one hand, to make you calm, so that you won’t feel afraid that He will expect more of you than you are ready to do, or expect you to do something peculiar or strange. On the other hand, ask Him to make you excited all the same, about being used in His service, and to nurture and strengthen this attitude in your heart. Read Exodus 3 and 4:1-17. Look again at chapter 3:11,13 and chapter 4:1,10,13. Do you see how Moses struggled with this assignment? He became one of the greatest leaders of all time!

Day 61


Have you observed how other Christians use their spiritual gifts?

Quickly read through 1 Corinthians 12 again, and make a list of the different spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to individual children of God. Now go and observe the mature Christians you have contact with, in the church you have joined. Whenever you are with them, see if you can discover which spiritual gifts they have received. Take note how they use their spiritual gifts in the service of the Lord, and try talking to them about their gifts. Later, when you are ready for it, we will talk again about the gifts with which the Holy Spirit has equipped you, or will equip you in order to use you in His service.


GROWTH AREA: THE WORLD


Day 62


Do you know that God is the Creator of heaven and earth?

By now, you have been a child and heir of God for at least two months. During this time, a lot of new things have almost certainly been happening in your life. How did it feel to be back at work (or school) amongst your old friends? Are you still good friends? Have you maybe made new friends, who are also children of God? Being back in your old life was probably not always easy for you. Well, life goes on, and even children of God can’t stop working and carrying out their everyday responsibilities. That is why we are going to spend a few days looking at your relationship with the world you live in as a child of God.

Do you remember that on Day 2 of this program, we read in Genensis 1:1 that God is the Creator of heaven and earth? It is time, now, to read the first chapter of the Bible (Genesis1:1-31) through carefully. Read Genensis 2:1-3 as well. As you busy yourself every day with the ordinary things of life, you must remember that they were all made by God, and belong to Him. You are busy with God’s people, animals and things. The way you work with them is part of your service to God.

Day 63


What have you learnt from Jesus Christ during this week?

Do you remember that we are going to give you an opportunity, every seventh day, to think about what the Lord has been teaching you during the previous six days? You can do this again now by answering the following questions. Write your answers in your Quiet Time Journal, so that you can have something to share with others during your weekly cell group get-together.

Question 1: What has happened to you during the past week to make you aware that God is present in your life?
Question 2: What has the Lord Jesus Christ taught you during the past week? Where is this written in the Bible?
Question 3: Was there any part in the previous six days that you didn’t understand, or that you couldn’t or didn’t want to do? Write it down clearly, so that you can get help with it during your next cell group get-together.

Day 64


Do you know the difference between nature and culture?

Do you remember how, a few weeks ago, we read in Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15 about how God created the first people and appointed them as His representatives, and how, in obedience to Him, they were to fill the earth, and cultivate, preserve and rule over all Creation? We called this the “Creation Task.”

Everything God has made, we call “nature”, and everything that we as people do with God’s creation, we call “culture”. That is why we have another word for “Creation Task.” The word is “Cultural Mandate.” The way we have been created, we are perfectly equipped to carry out this Cultural Mandate. When we, in obedience, carry out this mandate given to us by our Creator, we are doing the thing He planned for us to do, and we are being the people He planned for us to be.....and this is the secret of a meaningful life! This is what makes us feel that our existence is worthwhile. It is what makes us feel that we are part of God’s big plan with the world.

God doesn’t just leave us to work out for ourselves how to be His representatives in our world and in the lives of other people. He gives us ten rules (the ten commandments) in Exodus 20:1-17. When we work with His creation, we are to follow these rules. In Luke 10:27, Jesus tells us what our attitude must be when we work with God’s creation....an attitude of love! Go and read these rules carefully, and then ask yourself: Could you break any of your Creator’s rules, and not make yourself or someone else unhappy in the process? When we work with God’s creation, without obeying His rules, and without an attitude of love, we damage and destroy it. God intended for us to use the natural materials He gave us, in order to build and cultivate something fit for use, according to His will, in His service and for the benefit of others and ourselves, but instead of this, we selfishly use up the good things God made, and just end up doing harm.

Day 65


Do you understand your responsibility as a Christian, to look after the environment?

Please read Genesis 1:26-29 and Psalm 24:1,2.

Do you realise that you have an important role to play in the environment? Your environment consists of all the created things, both living and non-living, that exist around you. If you touch these created things, you change them. You either change them into something useful or you destroy them.

The the part of God’s creation that has not been transformed by man, is called the “natural environment”, eg. the rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, plants, flowers, sea, and so on. The basic elements that make up the natural environment are: water, soil and air.

The part of God’s creation that has been transformed by man, is called the “cultural environment”, eg. towns, cities, buildings, structures, furniture, motor cars, newspapers, books, and so on.

But why do you have such an important role to play in your environment? Because you, as a human being, are the most intelligent part of the environment. God therefore made you responsible for your environment. This is a very great responsibility because the survival of man on earth depends on the stable and continued existence of a suitable environment. If we destroy our natural environment, we destroy the very things that we need for survival like air, water, soil, animals, plants, people, and so on.

What does “conservation” mean? Conservation means to protect and care for all the created things in the environment where you find yourself. How do we do this? Natural resources can be divided into two types: renewable and non-renewable resources. Some natural resources can be made new (renewable resources) and can therefore be used again. Water can be purified, seeds can be planted, animals can reproduce, soil can be regenerated. The problem is that this is time-consuming and expensive.

Most of the time, though, natural resources cannot be made new (non-renewable resources) and can never be used again. Air and water-purifying mechanisms are expensive. Fertilizers to regenerate the soil are also limited in availability. Animals may not reproduce as quickly as man kills them. Minerals (like coal, gold, diamonds, platinum, uranium, chromium, iron) can never be made new. People can reproduce, but you can never bring a dead child, mother or friend back to life again. If all the natural resources in your environment have been used, you will have to go without them, as will your the generations to come.

Taking care of (conserving) your environment thus means: not to pollute air that can't be purified; not to pollute water that can't be purified; not to cut down a tree unless you also plant a tree; not to kill animals if their survival is at stake; to use our minerals sparingly so that there will be enough left for the generations to come; to protect the lives of our fellow men.

In other words. When care has been taken to ensure that water and soil are renewed and that human activity does not in any way threaten the survival of plants, animals and our fellow men, we can say that these resources are being utilised in a sensible way, and proper conservation is taking place. When minerals that can't be renewed are utilised according to a set plan, in order to ensure that they are preserved, conservation is taking place. This is the reason why useful waste materials, such as water, paper, plastic, glass, scrap iron, and so on, must be recycled. Conservation, then, aims at maintaining a proper balance between development on the one hand, and the preservation of natural resources on the other.

Why do we have to conserve our natural environment? For today. Everyone prefers to live in an environment where the quality of life is acceptable. This is the aspiration of every human being. Isn't it yours as well? For tomorrow. The way we change our world today determines our future environment. All people want to ensure an acceptable environment for their children. Conservation means survival. Helping your environment to survive means that your environment can provide for your survival, in return. Shall we take care and survive, or shall we destroy and die? Take care!

Day 66


Do you respect what God has made, and do you have a desire to represent God in His Creation?

Please read Psalm 1:1-3 and Psalm 8. Then, please go and take a look at your own bedroom, your wardrobe and your personal desk. Are they clean and neat? These kinds of things generally reveal something about your thoughts, your heart and your relationships! Pray to God and ask Him to give you an attitude of respect for yourself and the people that live and work with you, and ask that He will strengthen this attitude in you every day.
• Go and take a look, today, at the ways people treat God’s Creation. Just notice in how many ways people destroy themselves, one another, animals, plants, soil, water, and so on, all in disobedience to God’s rules.
• Make a point of using all your senses to start observing the beauty in God’s Creation. For one whole month, go every morning at sunrise to a garden or some natural bushland that you find beautiful. Look around you, then close your eyes and listen, take a deep breath and become aware of the fragrances in the air. Taste a blade of green grass, feel the softness of a petal, or the rough bark of a tree. Notice the cool morning breeze on your skin, and think deeply about the nearness of your Creator. Then thank Him for the beautiful world He has made.
[1] Bennett, M.L.B. Christianity Explained. 1985. P.58

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