RED LETTER CHALLENGE DAY 4

Jesus talked a lot about giving and having a spirit of generosity. Generosity at its’ core is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, or ever will become. We live a life of generosity as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to His grace. We give because God so generously gave to us. We see this clearly in John 3:16.

John 3:16 (ESV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God gave us His only Son and Jesus gave us everything (His life), so we could be reconciled to the Father through a relationship with Him. When I think about generosity, I can think of no greater example than this! 

In the fourth full week of the Red Letter Challenge, we will see that Jesus challenged his followers to make generosity a way of life. You may not know that Jesus talked about money more than even heaven or hell. He wanted us to understand that God is more important than money or any material possession we could ever have. You may be thinking “I’m not rich, I don’t have anything to give,” but we all have been given so much.  
 

Matthew 6:19-21 (NCV)

Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. 21 Your heart will be where your treasure is.

We spend most of our lives trying to “get” things. A better job, a bigger house, a nicer car.  “Wanting” and “getting” come natural to us.  On the other hand, “giving” is much harder. Why is that? If we learn to give like Jesus, our giving will be a result of our loving.  I remember one of the very first gifts I was able to give my wife. We were dating at the time and I was working an entry level job in food service,  making minimum wage. I didn’t own a car and bummed rides from friends or walked to work most days.

You see, we had been dating for a while and I wanted to buy a Christmas gift that would show Pam how much I loved her. I had my heart on a ring I had picked out at one of the famous jewelry stores in the mall! It was beautiful and it was more than I could afford. I was determined to get it, and worked as much as I could, saving every penny until I finally had enough. When it came time to exchange gifts, it didn’t matter what I would get from her. I was so excited to give her the gift I had worked so hard for. I was giving her this gift as a result of my love for her. Yes, she loved it, and it wasn’t until much later after we were married that I told her how much it had cost and how hard and long I had worked to purchase it! Here is a little fact I conveniently left out. I was sixteen at the time and this was the first time I had purchased anything of real value. It didn’t matter to me that I had to work all year after school while others my age were playing sports or having fun; I was motivated to give Pam something of value, by love. As followers of Jesus, our giving should not be a result of “having to,” but out of the knowledge that we “get to!” 
 

DAY 4 CHALLENGE: 

Sometimes it’s hard to give when we are holding on too tightly to things. Think about what these things might be in your life. Before we go deeper in week four, ask God to prepare your heart for what He would have you give and give up. Ask Him to give you a heart of generosity.  



RED LETTER CHALLENGE DAY 3

Jesus lived a life of humility. He never put himself above others. He spent time with those no-one wanted to spend time with, He healed the sick, raised the dead and fed thousands. Everywhere He went, Jesus demonstrated a heart of service. Before going to the cross, Jesus challenged His disciples to follow His example and serve others. 

John 13:12-15 (NLT)

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.

As we spend more time with Jesus, our gratitude for what God has done leads us to serve Him. We don’t serve because we have to, we serve because we get to! When we serve out of the overflow of what God is doing within us, we get to experience the joy of serving others. I am reminded of the joy of serving by the example many in our church family set on Football Sunday. Cooking, preparing, cleaning, setting up and tearing down were all part of the task of serving and I saw each of you serve without being asked and with smiles on your faces. Why did we do all of this? Paul gives us an answer to this question.    

Galatians 5:13 (NLT)13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Jesus lived a life of humility. He never put himself above others. He spent time with those no-one wanted to spend time with, He healed the sick, raised the dead and fed thousands. Everywhere He went, Jesus demonstrated a heart of service. Before going to the cross, Jesus challenged His disciples to follow His example and serve others. 

John 13:12-15 (NLT)

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.

As we spend more time with Jesus, our gratitude for what God has done leads us to serve Him. We don’t serve because we have to, we serve because we get to! When we serve out of the overflow of what God is doing within us, we get to experience the joy of serving others. I am reminded of the joy of serving by the example many in our church family set on Football Sunday. Cooking, preparing, cleaning, setting up and tearing down were all part of the task of serving and I saw each of you serve without being asked and with smiles on your faces. Why did we do all of this? Paul gives us an answer to this question.    

Galatians 5:13 (NLT)

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

 
When we serve others, we become the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around us. When we understand the freedom we have in Christ, we realize we don’t have to serve, we get to serve! When you realize how Good God is and what He has done for you, you want to serve. 
 
DAY 3 CHALLENGE

As you head into your day, be sensitive to God’s prompting and leading. You’ll be surprised to find the number of opportunities God gives us to serve others and share His love when we are looking for them. A big part of the 40-day Challenge is demonstrating Jesus love by serving those around us. During the 3rd full week of this challenge, you will begin to serve. You will learn who God calls you to serve and how He calls you to serve. Remember, while serving others won’t save you, it may help save someone else!



RED LETTER CHALLENGE DAY 2

Have you ever had found out you were having company unexpectedly? I sure have. If you are like me, in the rush to make sure your home was presentable when your guests arrived, you quickly put things into any closet or drawer you could find! And some even may have found their way under the bed! Your guests arrived and were welcomed into a clean and tidy home.  After they left, you were relieved you were able to “clean things up” in time.  Everything looked great on the outside, but if they only had opened a closet door or two, they would have discovered an absolute mess inside. 

Our lives are alot like this! We can create the appearance that everything is perfect when in reality, in may ways we are broken inside, full of regrets, hurts and pain. 

This reminds me of the two thieves who were crucified on either side of Jesus.  They both were a mess, but only one was willing to expose who he really was to Jesus and saw Jesus for who He was. 

Luke 23:39-43 (NLT)

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.

Why would Jesus pardon one who in all probability never said grace much less do anything to deserve it? The only thing more outlandish than the request that was given that day by the repentant criminal was that it was granted. Maybe this criminal heard Jesus speak. Maybe he had witnessed him love the lowly. Maybe not. Maybe the only thing he knew about Jesus was what he saw, a beaten, battered and bruised suspended preacher. His face crimson with blood, His bones peeking through torn flesh, his lungs gasping for air. He must have realized in the midst of all that was happening that he was in the company of the One who could forgive his sins and grant him eternal life. I can imagine the repentant criminal asking Jesus “Any chance you can put in a good word for me?” and Jesus response “Consider it done!” 

We can spend many years regretting sins from our past and reliving hurts and regrets. With all he had done wrong to put him on that cross next to Jesus, the criminal had the courage to ask for forgiveness and Jesus granted it. The greatest act of love we can experience is the grace and forgiveness Jesus offers. We must be willing to open the closet doors of our lives and show Jesus the mess that we have hidden inside. This all sounds good, but for many, it means having an honest conversation with the Lord and opening up the doors and drawers and exposing everything we try to so hard to hide. 
 

DAY 2 CHALLENGE

Read John 8: 1-11.  Jesus extended grace and kindness to the woman who was caught in adultery. Have you received the forgiveness that Jesus offers? Have you realized there is no sin too big that God did not die for on the cross? All of us are in desperate need of God’s grace. The second full week of our 40 day challenge will focus on receiving God’s forgiveness and learning how to forgive other people.



RED LETTER CHALLENGE DAY 1

It’s Day one of the Red Letter Challenge. I pray you are excited about learning and putting Jesus’ words into practice over the next 40 days. Our lives are so busy, we often struggle to find time to spend in God’s word. To be successful in this challenge, you will have to make a conscious effort to allow room for God to work in your life.

John 15:1-5

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.(ESV)
 

Jesus is telling us something very important here. He compared our relationship with Him to a vine in a vineyard. He described His Father as the vinedresser. Under the watchful eye of the Father, Jesus is continually pruning and shaping us so we can bear fruit. He said if we “abide” in Him, we will grow and bear much fruit. So what does it look like to “abide” in Him? It means we welcome Jesus into our lives. Not as a silent guest without opinions or commands, but as The authoritative voice whose opinions matter more to us than anyone else’s and whose commands are the very laws of life.

To put it simply, we have to continually come to Him and we can’t stop coming to Him!

So, here on day one, you have a choice to make! Abiding in Jesus will require some effort on your part. You may have to change your schedule or give up something to make time with Him each day a reality. I can promise you if you put forth the effort, you won’t regret it.

This week we will look at 5 key principles Jesus taught His followers. The following weeks, we will spend the entire week on each principle and the RED LETTERS that go with it. As we commit together to read His words and put them into practice, we will discover what we find ourselves doing will flow out of who we are and who we become as we spend time with Christ. Remember……..apart from Jesus, we can do nothing!
 

DAY 1 CHALLENGE

Pray and invite Jesus into your Red Letter Challenge Experience. Think about your schedule and commit to spending time with Jesus every day. What you gain from this experience will ultimately be determined by what you put in to this experience.