DAY 32 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

To follow God faithfully means following after Him with everything you have. This means everything we are and everything we have. When we realize all that God has given to us, we can’t help but thank Him and ask Him to help us use what He has given us to the best of our ability. Jesus wanted to help us understand who God is and what He has called us to do. To help get this point across, He told a story about a master and his two servants.

Matthew 25:14-30 ESV

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The master in the parable asked the servants to look after his money while he was away. When he returned, he asked for an accounting of what each had done with what they were given. Two of the servants doubled what they were given. The third servant was afraid of losing the master’s money and hid it instead of using it for the master or investing it. His fear disappointed and angered his master, who said, “Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.” The master took away everything the servant had been given.

Just like the master was generous and trusted the servants, God is generous to us. We each are given gifts, talents and abilities, and God wants us to use them for His glory. Fear kept the servant from making something of what the master had given him. Fear can keep us from using what God has given us. But if we are going to be successful in life, we must trust that God will enable and empower us to do anything He calls us to do. God loves to see His children move forward in faith, using their resources, gifts and talents for His purposes and when we do, He promises to bless us with even more resources and responsibilities.

Matthew 25:29

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

Each of us are given gifts to look after and use for our Master. Like the master and the servants, God is waiting to see what we will do with what He gives to us. One day Jesus is returning and like the servants, we will give an account of what we have done with our gifts. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like the first two servants who worked with and invested what they were given.

 

DAY 32 CHALLENGE

Read the following scriptures and meditate on them today. Ask God to help you identify the resources, gifts, talents and abilities He has given you and how He would want you to use them for His purposes.

Luke 6:38 ESV – “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

1 Peter 4:10 ESV – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”



DAY 31 CHALLENGE

Money can be an extremely divisive topic, because how you spend your money shows where your heart is. I know this because Jesus said it:

Matthew 6:21

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

According to Jesus, giving is a response to what is happening in your heart. I love the story found in Exodus 35:4-36:7. Moses told the Israelites that the Lord wanted them to build a tabernacle and each of them should decide in their own hearts what to give. The people gave so much that Moses had to tell the people to stop giving! There are two verses that really stand out to me in this passage.

Exodus 35:29

29 All the Israelites who wanted to help brought gifts to the Lord. They gave these gifts freely, because they wanted to. These gifts were used to make everything the Lord had commanded Moses and the people to make.

Exodus 36:5 “The people have brought too much. We have more than we need to finish the work the Lord told us to do.”

It’s easy for us to see where their hearts were! The passage tells us they “gave freely because they wanted to.” And because they gave freely and cheerfully, they had more than enough to do the work God had called them to do. 

You may be familiar with the term TITHE. Tithe in Hebrew means “tenth.” The practice of tithing goes all the way back to Abraham. From the beginning, God’s people have returned the first 10% to Him as an offering to show that we fully trust Him to provide for us.   

Leviticus 27:30

 “A tenth of all crops belongs to the Lord. This means the crops from fields and the fruit from trees—a tenth belongs to the Lord.

In this passage, we see Moses giving the instruction to tithe as law. Why? He explained the first 10% of what they produced or earned was “holy,” or set apart, and belonged to God. Tithing acknowledged that it was God who PROVIDED the harvest. It served as a reminder to Israelites that God was the source of everything they had and giving back a tithe to God demonstrated their thankfulness for His provision. The tithes from the people were brought to the tabernacle (storehouse) and provided for the Levitical priesthood, festivals, and needy. 

In the New Testament, the local church became a representation of the Old Testament storehouse. Today, tithes not only help to care for church buildings and those who work there, they support the expansion of His kingdom by spreading the gospel and ministering to the community for His name’s sake.  Jesus only spoke about tithing one time in the four Gospels, and He made a very interesting point. 

Matthew 23:23

““Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have NEGLECTED the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, WITHOUT neglecting the former.”

Jesus was saying, “don’t give me your tithes without practicing love and devotion to God and others. And don’t say you love me without showing gratitude with the first fruits.” Dr. Charles Stanley puts it this way “The tithe is given to God from our increase and for our increase. It is our acknowledgement that all we have and all we are able to achieve comes directly from the hand of God.”

Remember, we don’t give to God, we return to God what is already His. And when we give freely and cheerfully, we receive His blessings in our lives. 

2 Corinthians 9:7

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully”

DAY 31 CHALLENGE

Return to God what is already His. If you are not already tithing, honor God by tithing to your local church. In the Book of Malachi, God tells his followers to “Test Him.” This is the only time in all of the Bible that God says this. Test Him with your tithe; and see how God will pour out His blessings on you. It doesn’t always mean material blessing in this world, but when we give to God, we are always blessed!  



DAY 30 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

One of Jesus’ greatest teachings is the Sermon on the Mount. In this teaching, Jesus talked about making sure we don’t store up treasures here on earth, but instead, we focus on storing up treasures in heaven!

Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Matthew 6:24-34 NIV
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Three times in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry and to trust Him. Dr. Adrian Rogers put it this way “The ignorant worry because they don’t know enough; the smart because they know too much. The rich fear losing what they have; the poor fear not having enough. The old worry because they’re facing death; the young because they’re facing life.” Isn’t this so true? I heard him say once that “worry is interested paid on borrowed trouble!” This doesn’t mean we don’t plan ahead or work hard, we do. It simply means we must trust God more than our ourselves. Our challenge for today is to confront the goals we have set for ourselves and to see how they align with Jesus’ teaching. The world tells us MORE is BETTER. And BETTER brings SATISFACTION and CONTENTMENT. Jesus taught that TRUE SATISFACTION and TRUE CONTENTMENT are found in what we do for Christ! How we live and what we do in Jesus’ name will last for eternity.

There was once a rich man, who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to take it with him to heaven when he died. He prayed that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him. An angel heard his plea and appeared to him saying. “Sorry, but you can’t take your wealth with you.” The man begged the angel to speak to God on his behalf and ask if He would bend the rules for him.
The angel appeared to the man again and informed him that God had decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man found his large suitcase and filled it with bars of pure gold, and placed beside his bed. Soon after, he died and showed up at the gates of heaven to greet Saint Peter. The man explained to Saint Peter that he had been granted permission from the Lord to bring one suitcase with him to heaven. Saint Peter verified his claim and said “You’re right, but I must check the contents before letting it through. Saint Peter opened the suitcase and inspected the worldly goods that the man thought to be too precious to leave behind and exclaimed, “You brought pavement?” This story is just an illustration, but isn’t that how we are sometimes?

Jesus wants us to focus on what really matters. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus is not saying we won’t face difficult times or circumstances, but He promises if we keep our eyes on Him and His kingdom, He will take care of us and give us the strength we need to make it through.
 
DAY 30 CHALLENGE

It’s time to take inventory of what we have. Go through a room or closet this week and select items you can donate to those who are needy. Make yourself a note in your BIble or Journal to remind you to trust God to provide what you need! Here is a sample of what you might write: 

TRUE SATISFACTION and TRUE CONTENTMENT are found in what I do for Christ, not what I accumulate on earth! How I live and what I do in Jesus’ name will last for eternity.



DAY 29 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Jesus was talking to a large group of people when He dropped this bomb on them!

Matthew 25:31-40

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters of mine, you did it unto me.’

We’ve learned in this challenge that one of the ways people will see God in us is when we actually do what He says we should do. Jesus told his disciples that what we do for the least of those in the world, the least privileged and less fortunate, we’ve done it for Him! Jesus isn’t saying giving to others is something we HAVE to do to go to heaven. He is saying that the very people who believe in Him and love Him will be the ones who help those who are needy because of who we are in Him! The closer we are to Jesus, the more we will want to do for others. The Old Testament tells us of how the prophet Elisha helped a widow. Her husband had died and the creditors were coming to take her children if she couldn’t pay what her husband owed.  You can read the full story in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Elisha asked the woman to trust him with what little she had. She did as he asked and miraculously, she had enough oil to sell and pay her debts and provide for her sons. She was obedient and God multiplied what she had. God always gives you more than you need, more than you anticipate, more than you can imagine.

Jesus was not asking the disciples to change the entire world, but He was asking them to change their world, by seeing and meeting the needs of those they came in contact with. God designed us to make a difference in this world and to make an impact with our lives. He loves to bless us so we can in turn, bless others. When we give to those who are in need, whether it’s by giving food, or helping someone move a couch, we find fulfillment and receive God’s blessings in our lives.  
 
DAY 29 CHALLENGE

Give food to the needy. Whether it’s giving to a local food pantry, or bringing cans of soup to church this Sunday for donation to the Ark, be generous to the “least of these.”