DAY 24 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

This week, we have been learning about the things Jesus taught His disciples in the months leading up to His death. Today, we are going to see how Jesus interacted with the children. In Jesus’ day, children were seen and not heard, but when the people who were following Jesus started bringing their children to Him, Jesus demonstrated something quite different!

Mark 10:13-14

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ . . . And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them”

Jesus was not only willing to welcome the children into His presence; He spent time with them and blessed them. Knowing how Jesus felt about children will help us understand and connect with God’s heart when it comes to serving others! It is our responsibility to include our children and our grandchildren in our faith journey.  The best way they can get a glimpse of who Jesus is in our lives is by watching us serve others and serving others in Jesus name along-side us.

From a very young age, you could always find our son serving with us. Whether we were setting up chairs, visiting the sick, folding bulletins or preparing meals for those who were shut-in, we brought him along and allowed him to serve. Of course, there were times when he couldn’t participate due to type of task at hand, but as much as was possible, we intentionally made serving others a priority for our family. It’s great to talk about Jesus with our children, but they also need to see us be the “hands and feet” of Jesus.

It’s never too early to teach our kids what true servant-hood looks like! They need to see us model generosity, kindness and compassion before them if they are going to grow up to be devoted Christ-followers. They need to witness servant behavior in their world and it starts with us! 

If you are wondering how to help the children in your life develop a servant’s heart, start small!  Teach them to see others the way Jesus would see them. Whether He was performing a marvelous miracle or holding a child, He did everything with great compassion. While big service projects are great, it’s the every day acts of kindness and compassion that our children and grandchildren see that will help them understand what it means to serve others. There are so many opportunities to serve others that God places in our path each day.  Let’s teach our little ones to recognize them and serve God in some small way every day! If you don’t have children or grandchildren of your own, consider investing in the lives of the children in our church! As Steve Williams says “It takes a village!” You can make a difference in a child’s life forever by a simple act of kindness. A smile, a hug, or a kind word can go a long way!

DAY 24 CHALLENGE

As you continue in your week of serving, there are two challenges for today.
  1. Over the few days, do something to serve a child in your life.
  2. If you have children who still live in your home, or grandchildren who you see regularly, involve them in serving the people God places in your path. It could be something as simple as teaching them to hold the door open for someone or offering to help someone with a chore around the house.


DAY 23 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Luke 10:25-37 NIV

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

When Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” the natural question to ask is “Who is our neighbor?” A neighbor is anyone you come in contact with. Let’s face it….most of the time we don’t walk on a road and see someone bloodied up who needs our help.  We are far more likely to run into someone with a flat tire. Jesus was teaching us to be aware of those around us, to truly see the needs of others, and when we are able, to meet them. We need to be a friend like Jesus, who meets us where we are and shows us compassion and mercy. The problem with so many of us is we just don’t see, we don’t look! We’re so busy, we pay no attention. People all around us are hurting and need our help. We must be spiritually sensitive to God’s leading when we come across those who are in need.  

The Samaritan could have passed this man by just like the others had, instead, he stopped and met the man’s needs. He had never met the man on the side of the road, he was a total stranger, yet, the Samaritan cared for him through the night and then paid the bill. He did whatever it took to show kindness. What did he gain from it? Nothing. He didn’t expect anything in return. The Samaritan showed extraordinary kindness to this man who was beaten and left for dead.  He had compassion on him and sacrificed his time, money, and his energy to help him. Helping others will always cost us something, but it’s worth the cost. The Bible says God blesses us when we we show kindness to others. 

Isaiah 58:10-11

If you feed those who are hungry and take care of the needs of those who are troubled, then your light will shine in the darkness . The Lord will always lead you. He will satisfy your needs in dry lands . . . You will be like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dry.

Why are we kind to others? Because God has shown us extravagant kindness when we had nothing to give in return. When we show kindness and serve others. we share the love of Jesus with the world and shine light in the darkness.  When we meet the needs of those who are hurting around us, God promises to generously meet our needs! That’s what the Christian life is all about!
 
DAY 23 CHALLENGE

Do something for a neighbor of yours. Show them you care. NO STRINGS ATTACHED!



DAY 22 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Today, we are focusing on the people Jesus calls us to serve. It’s our nature to want to be served and so many times when we serve others, we often expect to receive something in return. But God wants us to be people who naturally serve and don’t expect anything back in this world.  Jesus was dining in the home of an important Pharisee. Jesus told the host not to simply be hospitable to those who could pay him back with their own hospitality, Instead, he should invite those who had nothing to give him in return!

Luke 14:12-13

Then Jesus said to his host“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When I think about serving others without expecting anything in return, I recall times in my own life when God used someone to serve or bless me when I had nothing to give in return. When I was a young youth pastor in my early twenties, God used two men in my life to bless my family in ways we could never repay. I was considering attending Liberty University, and while on a trip to see the college, we were invited to lunch by the Dean of the Seminary. (This also happened to be the same man that encouraged me to go to college to prepare for full time ministry, even though I was getting a late start and was married with a child.) During lunch, he introduced Pam and I to the president of the university.  Both encouraged us as we prayed about moving our family to a new place to prepare for God’s calling in our lives. In a matter of weeks, we sold our home and moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to begin school. When we moved, we had enough money left over from the sale of our home to pay for one semester of college. We went by faith, believing God would make a way! On the first day of school, as I waited in a very long line to register, Pam decided to leave the line and take a walk around the campus. She wandered into the president’s office to say hello, and to make a long story short, he not only welcomed her and remembered her from our lunch; he offered her a job! A job that would provide for our family while I was in school and cover the cost of my tuition as well. To say I was shocked was an understatement. God had provided for us in a way that was totally unexpected!

God used both men to serve my family when we had nothing to give in return. They made a tremendous impact in my family and both have continued to invest in our lives to this day. I have often wondered why these men chose to help us when they really didn’t have to and there was nothing to be gained by it.

As I have answered God’s call to serve others in my own life, I realize they were simply being obedient to God’s call to serve others, and we were the ones who were blessed by their obedience. Pam and I have tried to model this example in our own lives as we have had opportunities to serve others.  We pray God will use us to bless others in the same way He used two men to bless us.

Jesus said when we serve others, we show our love for Him!

Matthew 10:40

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

God didn’t put us on earth just to live for ourselves. He wants us to love one another, encourage one another, help one another and serve one another. It’s amazing how we can truly impact the lives of others when we choose to be obedient and serve expecting nothing in return. The Bible says that God “will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers” (Hebrews 6:10 NLT). When we serve with the right motives, we are blessed beyond measure!

DAY 22 CHALLENGE

Be intentional about seeing opportunities to serve and looking to the needs of others.  Do something for someone today who has nothing to give in return.



DAY 21 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

In the final months before His death, Jesus spent time teaching the disciples some very important life lessons. These lessons were meant to teach them how they were to carry on after His death and resurrection. The disciples had a limited amount of time with Jesus and He wanted to prepare them for the difficulties He knew they would face when He was no longer with them.  The disciples had walked with Jesus, witnessed Him perform many miracles and now, as He was pouring out His heart and investing in them, they were focused completely on themselves! It’s no surprise while Jesus was teaching them about serving others, the disciples were arguing about “who was the greatest among them.”

Mark 9:30-37 GW

30 They left that place and were passing through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where he was 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He taught them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over to people. They will kill him, but on the third day he will come back to life.” 32 The disciples didn’t understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him.33 Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 He sat down and called the twelve apostles. He told them, “Whoever wants to be the most important person must take the last place and be a servant to everyone else.” 36 Then he took a little child and had him stand among them. He put his arms around the child and said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me. Whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

I love how the disciples gave Jesus the silent treatment when He asked them what they had been discussing along the road.  Of course, Jesus already knew what they had discussed and what was truly in their hearts; yet, He patiently and lovingly addressed what was on their minds. I can only imagine how Jesus’ words must have blown their minds. To think the King of the universe came to not to be served, but to serve, and was inviting them to do the same. Jesus wanted them to know there was no greater calling than to think of others above themselves.  He wanted them to understand the highest virtue they could emulate was humility rather than pride.  Humility is not viewed as a virtue in our culture today, and it wasn’t viewed as a virtue in the disciple’s day either.  It is our nature to be dominated by pride and to be consumed with ourselves more than others. We are taught at a very early age to be first, be the best, and to be number one.  We are taught to promote ourselves and to put our needs first.  But Jesus tells us the exact opposite! In Jesus’ counter-cultural Kingdom, the ones who are blessed are the ones who serve others and put others before themselves.

This reminds me of a great friend of mine who recently passed away. I met him at a youth camp several years ago. He was sitting with a group of college interns, cutting up and having a great time with them before the long week began. Later on in the week, he was speaking to over 1000 teenagers and I will never forget my shock when I learned that he was the step-brother of Elvis Presley. Later, I learned all that he had accomplished in ministry.  He had preached in Billy Graham crusades all over the world. He was interviewed by all of the television talk show greats and was friends with all kinds of famous people! But, rather than letting success get the best of him, he always pointed others to Jesus.  More than anything, he enjoyed spending time with young people and investing in their lives. He loved pouring into the next generation of ministry leaders and teaching them value of love, compassion, kindness and selflessness.  I learned more from watching him than any theology book I have ever read, and believe me, I have read a lot! My friend had been seen as the best, and had seen all this world had to offer. He knew how empty this world on its own can be, and how quickly life comes and goes. He didn’t want to entertain others, he wanted to serve others and give his life away on behalf of his King, Jesus. He invested in me, my wife, and my son, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Because of his investment in me, I will continue what was started so long ago.

You will be asked to do a lot of serving this week! As you go, remember Jesus’ teaching and the blessing that is ours when we put others above ourselves.

DAY 21 CHALLENGE

FIND A WAY TO PUT SOMEONE ELSE’S NEED ABOVE YOUR OWN TODAY!