DAY 35 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

After Jesus resurrection, He spent time with the disciples preparing them for a time when He would return to the Father in heaven. Jesus told the disciples He would not physically be with them much longer, but one would come after Him, who would give them power to live the Christian life. One who would give them power to share His love with others. 

Acts 1:8 NLT

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
 

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He instructed the disciples to share His story with the world. It may seem like Jesus gave them an impossible task, IF, they had to accomplish it on their own. They didn’t! He promised the Holy Spirit would empower them to share the gospel message “The Good News” with the world. The disciples did just as Jesus instructed them to, as have many faithful believers who lived after them. We are believers today because of their obedience.  The disciples did their part, but they are no longer here! It’s now our privilege to continue the work that was started so long ago. We are now the ones Jesus calls to be witnesses to the world around us. The problem today is, far too many Christians don’t see themselves as witnesses for the Lord. We simply come to church,  listen to sermons and go about our lives not giving much thought to sharing the gospel. But, God wants us to go out into our world and be a witness for Him, wherever we are or wherever He sends us. 

You may think “what impact can I make?” I’m not a pastor; I don’t have what it takes to be a witness for God. You may think you are too young or too old, but God doesn’t set age limits on when we should start or stop being a witness for Him. I love Dr. Charles Stanley’s view on

Acts 1:8. 

“The question isn’t whether or not we are adequate to be His witnesses, but whether our hearts are willing. The Lord has promised the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes through our life, but if we won’t use His divine strength, then we waste opportunities for impact. Earthly responsibilities have a way of stealing our attention and limiting our obedience to the Lord. However, nothing in life is more important than doing the will of the Father.

Have duties and pleasures of this world lured you away from your responsibility to tell others about the Savior? Salvation is not just an experience to be enjoyed; it’s a gift to be shared. You don’t need a theology degree. Just tell what Jesus has done for you, and the Spirit will do the rest.” 

I heard a story once that Billy Graham was supposed to come to a particular city to preach a crusade and there was preacher there who didn’t want him to come. The preacher was just kind of liberal and he said, “We don’t want that man here in our city. Why, he will set evangelism back 50 years.” When Billy Graham heard that he said, “Well, I didn’t want to set evangelism back 50 years, I wanted to set it back 2000 years.” God’s plan for reaching the world is the same today as it was when Jesus walked with the disciples. It’s up to you and me to tell others what Jesus has done for us. If we are obedient and take advantage of the opportunities He gives us to share our story, the Holy Spirit will do the rest! And…. we will be blessed as we see our friends and family follow after Him.  

DAY 36 CHALLENGE

Think about your story. How you came to Christ and who invested in your life so that you could come to know him. Think about some of the times in your life where you saw God working and how you would share this. Pray that God will give you an opportunity to share your story with “the one.” As you spend time reflecting on what God has done for you, you will realize you really do have a story to tell! 



DAY 35 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

As Christians, sometimes it’s easy to surround ourselves with great Christian friends and only hang out with them and other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to have great Christian friends who we enjoy being around. God also wants us to expand our circle of friends to include those who don’t know Him. For whatever reason, this is difficult, especially when it comes to forming new relationships and meeting new people. What I have discovered is the more we allow God to push us out of our comfort zone, the more He uses us to make an impact in the lives of others. When you stretch yourself and go beyond the levels of your comfort, you experience parts of God you would otherwise miss.

In this story we see Jesus approach a group of tax collectors and He invites them to dine with Him.  We know that tax collectors were outcasts and were considered traders amongst their own people. Yet, we know that one of them became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and spent the rest of his days serving the Savior of the world.

Matthew 9:9-13 NLT
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

When Jesus called Matthew, to be His disciple, he followed! Even though Matthew left his responsibilities to follow Jesus, he didn’t forget his friends and loved ones. He threw a dinner party and invited his fellow tax tax collectors and friends to his home so that they could listen to Jesus and receive spiritual healing. Unlike the self-righteous Pharisees, Jesus didn’t look down on those who were far from Him, instead, He was moved with compassion and mercy towards them. Jesus didn’t condone their sins; but introduced them to spiritual healing through a relationship with Him. We know from Mark’s account of this story that many of Matthews associates and friends followed Jesus. All because Matthew cared enough to invite them!

It might have been easier for Matthew to follow Jesus and never look back. We know from this story he cared enough about those around them to introduce them to Jesus! I pray that you are encouraged today by Matthew’s example and get involved with the people God has placed around you; some that you may not even know yet! You never know where God might lead your relationships.
 
DAY 35 CHALLENGE

Pray that God will reveal someone new to you who you can connect with and build a relationship that will point them to Jesus. Ask God to reveal to you those who are already in your sphere of influence who are waiting for your to invite them to Jesus! Once He has revealed someone to you, begin to look for opportunities to invite them to meet Jesus. 



DAY 34 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Matthew 6:33 NIV

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

We learned in our “Week of Giving” that God wants us to give our lives to him. He wants us to use our gifts, talents and resources to impact the lives of others and reach the world for Christ. But before we go out and proclaim to the world who God is, we must first live out our faith in our home. We all want our children and grandchildren to have a true love for the Lord and a personal relationship with Him. If we want our children to have a faith that influences the way they live their lives — and the critical life decisions they make — then in our homes we need to be modeling our faith daily. Our families need to see and hear what God is doing in our lives.  

While Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they were able to lead the Philippian jailer to faith in Christ through their actions and testimony. You can read the entire story in Acts chapter 16. I want to look at the verses related to the Philippian Jailer’s conversion. 

Acts 16:32-34

32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
 

The Philippian Jailer’s first action after trusting Christ as His Savior was to share this gift with his family and his entire household.  The passage tells us that “all his family” were baptized. If we are going to “go into all the world” and share the love of Christ, we first must begin at home. You’ve probably heard statistics about how important family time is. Yet it seems families are spending less and less quality time together. Sometimes pouring into your family and sharing what God is doing in your life can be difficult since our days are so busy and filled with activity. But if we want to see our children become adults who are strong in their faith, we have to intentionally live out our faith at home. 

According to Focus on the Family, research shows that kids who are most likely to carry their faith into adulthood are those who are actively engaged in spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, devotions and church attendance in their formative years.

Your personal relationship with Jesus and your faith journey will directly affect how you live your life, raise your children and make decisions. As we head into our week of “GOING” the first place we must go is into our HOMES! 
 
DAY 34 CHALLENGE

At some point today, share what God is doing in your life with a family member or close friend. Pray with your family and have everyone pray at least one sentence. If you don’t know what to pray, start by thanking Him for all the things He has given to you and done for you. 



DAY 33 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

A rich young man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. By his own standards, he seemed to have lived a pretty good life, yet, while speaking with Jesus, the desire of his heart was exposed, and it became clear this young man leaned more toward loving his money than following Jesus!

Mark 10:17-23 NIV

 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

With all his professed desire to gain eternal life, the rich young ruler loved his money more than his soul. He left distraught over the answer Jesus had given him. It wasn’t so much having money, as it was his attachment to it. Jesus was not saying that money or having money was evil. He saw the heart of the rich young ruler and wanted him to know what he lacked most was a relationship with the living God. The rich young ruler couldn’t let go of his earthly possessions and in the end, lost everything.

Shortly after World War II came to a close; Those in Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the old country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning, an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully. The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son . . . would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled, “Oh, yeah . . . I would!”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. The soldier smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister . . . are you God?”

You are never more like God than when we give!

John 3:16 NIV

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

Had the rich young ruler really understood this, his end may have been different. You can have everything this world has to offer, but without Jesus, you lack the one thing that matters most. God tells us He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and He promises us that the one “who is generous will be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9). Let’s believe Him and learn to make giving a lifestyle. Deep inside most Christians is a genuine desire to release instead of keep . . . to give instead of grab. It is worth whatever it takes to cultivate that and make giving a way of life. Trust Jesus, it’s worth it!
 
DAY 33 CHALLENGE

On this last day in our week of giving, honor God by giving something of value to someone. This doesn’t have to be monetary, but something that demonstrates your trust in God rather than earthly possessions.