DAY 40 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Well… praise the Lord we did it, day 40 of our Red Letter challenge! So, how was it? I hope over the past 40 days you have learned more about Jesus and what He asks of His followers. I pray you never stop learning and growing.

This challenge is meant to last a life time, because when we follow Jesus and His words, we find the life we were made for. When Jesus left His disciples with the Great Commission to reach the world, He concluded with this statement:

Matthew 28:20

“and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus promises to be with us, day in and day out, ALWAYS! I don’t know about you, but knowing that Jesus is ALWAYS with me gives me confidence to do the things He is calling me to do.
I want to encourage you continue pursuing the five main principles we studied during this Challenge:
Being – Spend time connecting with Jesus each day through prayer and Bible Study. You have made it regular practice over the last 40 days, so you know you can make this a consistent routine in your spiritual life.

Forgiving – Think back on our week of “Forgiving. Is there any unconfessed sin in your life you need to ask God to forgive? Is there someone in your life you still need to forgive? Remember, when we forgive others, we are the ones who are set free!

Serving – God wants you to be involved in His work on earth. If you haven’t already, make serving part of your life. When you serve, you get to be a part of what God is doing all around you.

Giving – Be a cheerful giver. You can’t out give God. He is the most generous giver of all and He wants you to be like him.

Going – You have a story to tell! God has placed you in the lives of others to make a lasting impact. Allow God to work through you and trust Him to give you the words to say. Someone’s life could change forever because of your willingness to share the Good News of Jesus and His love.

It’s not always easy following in the footsteps of Jesus; we will need the support, and encouragement from each other, the family of God, and the church. Most importantly, we will need the Holy Spirit. May we echo the words of Paul:

Philippians 4:13
“I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”

 
DAY 40 CHALLENGE

So, here is your last challenge: Pursue Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Allow God to use you to do mighty things for His kingdom. After all is said and done in this world, may you hear God say “WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!



DAY 39 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

As you have been going through the 40-day Challenge, I hope you’ve had some victories. But if you’re like me, you’ve struggled at times. When you follow Jesus, there will be days that you struggle. There will be days that don’t go as planned. The Christian walk is not easy by any means. But even when you fail, it doesn’t disqualify you from being a follower of Jesus! As you have spent time reading God’s word, praying and seeking Him, trust that He has a plan for your life.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Have you ever taken a trip with your kids when they were little? I remember many vacations with my wife and son. We always had a great time when we got to our destination but getting there was always an adventure! My son would start asking “are we there yet?” just a few hours into our trip! I would always laugh and say “no, Joseph, we’re not there yet. Just enjoy the trip!” That answer never seemed to satisfy him, but when we got there, it always was worth the wait. Our Christian life is a lot like that road trip. We get so focused on the destination, we don’t enjoy the journey. Heaven is our ultimate destination but Jesus wants us to enjoy the here and now!

John 10:10 AMP 

“I’ve come that you may have real life, and enjoy it in abundance – to the fullest, until it overflows!”

I love how The Message puts it:

“Jesus [said] … ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’”

It’s amazing to know that through Jesus, you can live life to the fullest. Jesus didn’t say our lives would be perfect, but if we are connected to Him, we can face any situation with confidence knowing He is with us.

John 15:5

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay connected to me . . . you’ll produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t do anything without me!

God has a plan for every area of your life. Your education, your marriage, your career – not just your church life! And he promises to lead and guide us if we trust Him with the details. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know what next year will bring, but I know God sees the road ahead so I’ll trust Him and enjoy the journey.



DAY 38 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Mark 16:15 ESV
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

As we near the end of the 40 Day Red Letter Challenge you may be thinking “I am sure glad we’re near the end because this ‘Week of Going’ requires way too much from me.” Many would say “I’ll forgive, I’ll serve, I’ll be generous, but don’t ask me to talk to anyone!”

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are given the mandate to preach the Gospel to all nations, even to every creature! Some may see this as a chore or a burden, but it is our greatest privilege as believers! Not only is the Gospel of Christ a message of hope – it’s the only message that will bring life to those who receive it.

At times, Christians can actually become ashamed of the very message that caused them to believe in Christ and be saved by Him. That’s something that should be sobering to everyone! If it weren’t for the love of God that gave boldness to those who shared the Gospel to us, we wouldn’t even be Christians today. We can learn a lot from the Apostle Paul and his personal declaration regarding the gospel message.

Romans 1:16 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

When Paul met Jesus on the Road to Damascus, he asked the Lord “Who are you, Lord? And “What would you have me to do?” Before his conversion Paul was beating, imprisoning and murdering Christians for their faith. So it was no surprise to him that it wasn’t popular follow Jesus after his conversion, yet, Paul was not fearful of or intimidated by the opposition to the Gospel.

Saint Francis of Assisi once said “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

It’s so easy to make this our mantra for sharing our faith. While there is nothing wrong with letting our lives speak to the God who lives within us, there comes a point when simply living a good life, being a good friend or a good Christian before others isn’t enough. When we don’t tell our friends what Christ did for them and what He demands for us to be saved, what’s that friendship for? And when we tell ourselves we’re being salt and light but we don’t tell them the source of that salt and light in us, then what good is it? Our kind acts and thoughtful deeds have limited power in themselves. Only Christ can truly save, and they should believe in Him as much as we believe in Him.

How could we be ashamed of the Gospel when the power of the Gospel is the only thing that can give hope to a dying world? Without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no hope.

The Gospel is not intended to save civilization from wreckage, but to save people from the wreckage of civilization! I once had a boss that continually reminded me to “keep the main thing the main thing!” What a true statement. Spend a few moments reflecting on Jesus words regarding “the main thing.”

Luke 19:10 ESV
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
 
Mark 8:36 ESV
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
 
DAY 38 CHALLENGE

Pray and ask God to give you a boldness to share the gospel with someone when the opportunity arises. The Bible says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” If you have never done this before, start with your story! You can use these verses as a guide: ROMANS 3:10, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10.



DAY 37 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Mark 5:19 NIV

“Go to your home [oikos], to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 

When Jesus worked a miracle on someone’s behalf, like the demon possessed man in Mark 5, it was his custom to give them a simple assignment–to return home with good news. Jesus wasn’t referring to a home as a structure but as a network of relationships. You have heard me refer to this as our Oikos. Oikos is the Greek word New Testament writers used to represent those key relationships we all find at the center of our daily lives. Like everyone else, your oikos is made up of your friends and family, neighbors, coworkers and those you meet in your day to day activities. The Oikos principle is the primary way we reach out to our community with God’s love and Jesus’ expectation is that you reach your Oikos by telling them what God has done for you! 

One of the most important aspects of embracing the Oikos principle is committing ourselves to expanding our circle of friends. For some of us, that comes naturally. For me, it’s not that easy. My wife and son are extroverts and make new friends everywhere they go. It takes me a little longer. As we learned earlier this week, it really takes me being pushed out of my comfort zone.

One of my goals this past year was to get more involved in my community, meet new people and build new relationships. You may think “that’s not hard, you’re a pastor,” but actually; it is very difficult for me. I am naturally a very introverted person and the nerve-racking process of being in new situations and meeting new people is very taxing mentally and physically. Towards the end of the year, I took the plunge and joined a peer group that meets in Nashville monthly. It was awkward for me at first; but now that I have been attending for almost a year, I have made several new friends and have grown spiritually through this experience.

This year I’m looking for ways to meet even more new people. I am actually very excited about expanding my community of influence even further. To help accomplish this, I have joined a local gym. As I begin my new gym routine, I have committed to ask the Lord to put people in my path and give me the boldness to make new connections that will ultimately help me point people to Him.

What does our Oikos have to do with the Red Letter Challenge? Well Jesus made a point to welcome strangers into his circle and I believe He wants us to do the same!

Luke 9:11 ESV

When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.

How can you expand your Oikos? Well, start my taking inventory of your interests. What do you enjoy doing? Consider inviting some of your friends from church and some of your unchurched friends to join you in an activity you really enjoy. As everyone gets to know each other, you would be surprised how God will open the doors for new friendships to be formed and His story shared. I want to encourage you to join me in this challenge of getting more involved and meeting new people. You never know who you will meet and how God will use you to impact their lives forever!

DAY 37 CHALLENGE

Get out and meet someone new! Join a group in your community or neighborhood doing something you enjoy. Get in a new social circle! Meet new people. If this is too much for you to do on your own, ask a friend to join you.