DAY 28 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Luke 6:30-31 ESV

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do for others what you want them to do for you.

Luke 6:35-36 ESV

I’m telling you to love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to people without expecting to get anything back. If you do this, you will have a great reward. You will be children of the Most High God. Yes, because God is good even to the people who are full of sin and not thankful. Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy.

Did you know that at the end of 2018, only 4,833 different people have successfully climbed Mt. Everest? Did you also know that 288 people have died trying to reach the top of the mountain? I have always been fascinated with accounts of those who have tried to conquer the highest mountain peak in the world. I recently watched a documentary that followed climbers and their journey. I learned that individuals have paid as much as $60,000 to get to climb the mountain.  Even though I am fascinated by the mountain and people’s efforts to climb it, I wouldn’t climb it personally even if someone offered to pay the $60,000 for me. Frankly, I’m not interested in investing the time, effort, and risk necessary to succeed at such a task. I will just stick to watching the documentary.

Well, the words Jesus spoke that we will look at today in my opinion are the “Mt. Everest” of Christian behavior. Jesus set the standard of loving others in the form of giving as high as it could possibly be set. This passage illuminates what I believe it the heartbeat of God Himself. Ultimately, we worship a God who gave up the best he had!

John 3:16-17 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

As a follower of Jesus, I know and believe the reality of Jesus ‘death and resurrection. Yet, at times I wonder how disappointing it must be for God to look at me and see that I still fail Him.

If He did send Jesus expecting that after His death and resurrection, we would be eternally grateful and therefore live lives of complete holiness; you would presume He must be very disappointed. However, God sent Jesus not because He expected perfection from us, but simply because He loves us. God sent Jesus knowing that even after His death and resurrection, we would fail Him. 

God gave His only Son to mankind without expecting something of equal value in return. We were given a gift, the gift of grace, mercy, and forgiveness and His desire is for us to give the same to others, expecting nothing in return!

During the apostle Paul’s missionary journey, he ends up in Philippi. There were no church buildings, synagogues or places for the early Christians to meet. After being baptized, a new believer named Lydia offered her house as a meeting place for the newly founded church to meet. She did this, expecting nothing in return. She simply wanted to be a part of what God was doing in her city. 

Acts 16:13-15 NLT

On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Like Lydia, all of us have something to offer. God doesn’t need us to accomplish His work, yet He invites us to participate! Like the boy who offered his lunch or Lydia who offered her home, we may feel like we don’t have much to offer but Jesus will take what we have and multiply it for His glory. The boy’s meager lunch fed thousands and Lydia’s home became the launching pad of the modern church! So, when you feel like what you have is inadequate, remember God can do a lot with a little!

 

DAY 28 CHALLENGE

God has given you something that someone else can use. Use your resources to help someone today!  



DAY 27 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

I love Christmas morning. Not because of the gifts I will receive, but because of the gifts I get to give. I love seeing the joy on the faces of my family members when they open the gifts I have selected just for them. If you’re like me, you just feel better when you’re able to serve someone or give them something. God created us to be the happiest when we are serving others or giving our lives away! Why? Because He wants us to be like Him. We worship a God who have up His most prized possession for us! He gave His only Son, Jesus to die for us.

 Matthew 20:28 NLT

Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 Jesus came to serve and to give. And we are the most fulfilled when follow Jesus’ example. We are wired to be the most fulfilled when we practice serving and giving every day! We are happiest when we live a life of generosity. To live this life, we must remember two promises that Jesus made:

 The way we give to others is the way God will give to us!

 Luke 6:38 ICB

Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands — more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.

Anything we give up or sacrifice for his Kingdom will be returned to us a hundredfold.

 Mark 10:29-30 ESV

There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come eternal life. 

 God says that anything that you give up for his sake, anything you sacrifice for his Kingdom will be returned a hundredfold. Do you know how much a hundredfold is? That’s 10,000 percent interest. I don’t know any stock or bank that can promise a return on your investment like that. We don’t give because we have to. We give because we want to be like Jesus. And God promises when we give and serve, we will be blessed by Him. As we begin our week of GIVING, spend some time thinking about these questions:

  • Why do some people trust God with their eternal salvation, but they don’t trust God with their finances?
  • Are you living a life of generosity?
  • What has God asked you to sacrifice for His Kingdom?
DAY 27 CHALLENGE
 
As we start our week of giving, lend or give something to someone without expecting anything in return.  


DAY 26 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

We talk a lot about serving those in our OIKOS (the 10-30 people God places in our sphere of influence) and our community. It’s so important, that we not only talk about serving, but we actually do it! When it comes to how we should live in the world around us, Jesus compared us to salt and light. Jesus instructed us to feed the hungry and care for the sick, but it goes much deeper than that!

Matthew 5:13-16 NIV
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We all know that salt has one purpose, to make things taste good! Biblical counselor Tim Keller put it this way “I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of corn on the cob without salt on it. When I’ve eaten a piece of corn on the cob that I really like, I will put it down and what do I do I say? That was great salt. No, I say, that was a great corn on the cob. Why? Because the job of the salt is not to make you think how great the salt is, but how great the thing is with which its involved.” 

Salt is a preservative that works only when it penetrates the food it is added to and when it remains pure. If it becomes contaminated, it loses its’ flavor and it is completely useless! Like the salt that must remain pure to be useful, we as Christians must be in the world around us while keeping ourselves from being influenced by sin in the world. When we do this, we are able to show the people we come in contact with how great our God is! When we serve others, it’s not about looking good in front of others. It’s all about sharing the goodness of God through our love and actions.   

Jesus also compared us to “light.” Light penetrates darkness and Jesus said we are to be the light in the dark places that surround us.  Far too often, we only shine our light in places that are already bright. You may remember the song “This Little Light of Mine!” The best part of that song was getting to sing loudly “Hide it under a bushel? No!” It seems silly, but that verse is so true. As followers of Jesus, we have the light inside of us, but it can be so easy to hide our lights under a basket.  We do this for many reasons, fear of rejection or simply a lack of courage to stand for truth. Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

In other words, He wants us to be salt and light wherever we go. Jesus wants us to actively live out our faith outside the church walls. Just like the Good Samaritan, we are to see the needs of others and meet them in love.  And remember, when we serve those who don’t know Jesus, we can be the salt and light that leads them to Jesus, bringing glory to God!

DAY 26 CHALLENGE

Serve God today in one of the following ways:

  1. Follow God’s prompting and do something for someone in your OIKOS!
  2. Visit an elderly person.
  3. Clean a neighbor’s yard or do a chore for your neighbor.
  4. Encourage someone who needs a friend.
  5. Volunteer at a local food pantry, soup kitchen or non-profit organization.


DAY 25 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Today, we’ll look at a story in the Bible about a man who was paralyzed. This man had four friends who heard about Jesus, the miracle worker, who was healing the sick. Like many others, they decided to take action and bring their friend to Jesus.

Mark 2:1-12 ESV

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

By the time his friends arrived at the place where Jesus was, the house was full of people who were also bringing their sick loved ones and friends, hoping they would be healed. At that moment, this man’s friend’s had a choice to make. They could find a way to get their friend to Jesus, or give up and go home. They didn’t give up! Instead, they made their way to the roof and lowered him through a hole they created. This was a risky endeavor, and many would have given up. Jesus saw their faith, and the love they had for their friend, and not only healed him physically; He forgave his sins, healing him spiritually!

I love how Max Lucado describes this scene “The friends want Him to heal their friend. But Jesus won’t settle for a simple healing of the body — He wants to heal the soul. He leapfrogs the physical and deals with the spiritual. To heal the body is temporal; to heal the soul is eternal. The request of the friends is valid — but timid. The expectations of the crowd are high — but not high enough. They expect Jesus to say, “I heal you.” Instead He says, “I forgive you.” They expect Him to treat the body, for that is what they see. He chooses to treat not only the body, but also the spiritual, for that is what He sees. They want Jesus to give the man a new body so he can walk. Jesus gives grace so the man can live. Remarkable. Sometimes God is so touched by what He sees that He gives us what we need and not simply that for which we ask.” 
 
Who do you know who is sick? Who do you know that needs encouragement? While don’t know why God heals some and not others, we are looking forward to a time when Jesus promises us no more sickness, disease, death, or even tears! Jesus promises that all who follow Him, will experience this type of life with Him in heaven. Until then, we have a responsibility to serve and take care of those who are sick!The friends of the paralyzed man had faith in Jesus and their friend was rewarded because of their faith. This means that God honors your faith and your commitment to those in need!

Matthew 25:35 ESV

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

DAY 25 CHALLENGE

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS SICK, VISIT THAT PERSON. IF YOU CAN’T VISIT THEM, CALL, SEND A GIFT, OR MESSAGE OF SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT IN A CARD, EMAIL OR TEXT MESSAGE.