DAY 12 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

The world around us moves at such a rapid pace, it’s becoming harder and harder to slow down. The days and weeks seem to go by faster and faster and we find ourselves worn down and exhausted. God gave us a remedy to this problem. It’s called a Sabbath, which simply means a “day of rest.”

Exodus 20:9-10 ESV

The Bible says, “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me.”
 

Jesus told the disciples to observe the Sabbath, knowing it was intended for their benefit. In those days, the Pharisees turned the Sabbath into something it was never intended to be.

They created all sorts of rules regarding what it meant to “keep the Sabbath.” There were rules regarding what you could do and what you couldn’t do.  There were so many rules, keeping the Sabbath became more of a burden than a blessing. Jesus wanted the disciples to understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. He reminded them the Sabbath was made FOR man’s benefit.

Mark 2:23-27 ESV

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest,he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

The Bible teaches us that the Sabbath is a day to rest and remember who God is in our lives and what He has done for us. The fast pace of life demands we take a day to rest our bodies, recharge our emotions and refocus our spirit. If we neglect doing this, we’ll find ourselves running ragged. When we make time to worship God and rest, we will be able to slow down and live life the way God intended it to be!
 
DAY 12 CHALLENGE

Plan a day of intentional rest and worship. If you are able to make Sunday your Sabbath, make plans to worship and then spend the rest of the day doing something for yourself to help you relax and refocus.  It could be a hobby or maybe just a walk, hike or drive to enjoy God’s creation. Do your best to turn the world “off” for the day and truly rest.



DAY 11 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Luke 15:21-23 ESV

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.

I love this passage! We all know the story of the prodigal son who asked his father to give him his inheritance early, moved away and squandered every bit of it! He found himself penniless and alone, and decided it was time to go home! While his brother was not so enthusiastic about his return, his father was so excited, he ran to greet him and instructed his servants to prepare for a long awaited celebration in honor of the son’s return. The father had a choice to condemn his son for what he did or forgive him, and he chose to forgive! 

If you are like me, you can identify with the prodigal son. There are times when we may fail and disappoint ourselves or those around us. When we realize the damage we have done or the sadness we have caused and come to our senses, we have heavenly Father waiting for our return with open arms. The prodigal son felt much regret and shame and even prepared an apology speech he would give to his father when he returned, but his father was so happy he had returned, he didn’t even have time to finish his apology! The father had already forgiven him and was more concerned with celebrating his return! Isn’t it amazing how long we keep ourselves trapped in our own minds reliving pain and regret when all the Father wants to do is welcome us home and celebrate with us! 

One of Rembrandt’s final paintings believed to have been painted in the final two years of his life is entitled “Return of the Prodigal Son.”  The description that accompanies this famous painting describes the scene this way. “Arriving at last at sickness and poverty, he returns to his father’s house. The old man is blinded by tears as he forgives his son, just as God forgives all those who repent. This whole work is dominated by the idea of the victory of love, goodness and charity. The event is treated as the highest act of human wisdom and spiritual nobility, and it takes place in absolute silence and stillness. The drama and depth of feeling are expressed in the figures of both father and son, with all the emotional precision with which Rembrandt was endowed. This parable in Rembrandt’s treatment is addressed to the heart of everyone: “We should be glad: for this son was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” There is no better reason to celebrate than the love and forgiveness we experience when we trust our lives to the father.  We are not promised that life will always be easy but even in difficult times, we can have a hope, joy, and peace that those who don’t know Christ don’t have. That is a reason to celebrate! 
 
DAY 11 CHALLENGE

Have some fun with this one today. Start the day by celebrating and thanking God for what He has done for you. Think about how you can celebrate God’s goodness and share it with others. One thing the world needs to hear is the goodness of God! Before the day is over, share God’s goodness verbally with a co-worker, friend or family member and / or by posting to your social media platforms. Let’s celebrate Jesus with the world! Follow your post with #REDLETTERCHALLENGE   ARE YOU READY TO ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE?



DAY 10 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

If you’ve attended church for awhile you’ve probably heard the word “fasting.” But, what exactly is fasting? Why do we do it? How do we do it? And, what are some Biblical examples of fasting?

Fasting is essentially giving up food something that’s meaningful to you for a period of time in order to focus your thoughts and attention on God.  Fasting brings you closer to God and helps you realize just how much God provides for you!

Fasting is not commanded in scripture and there aren’t a lot of rules and regulations concerning fasting. It will not make you more acceptable in God’s eyes. It’s not another number on the list of things you have to do to be acceptable. Even though scripture does not command we fast, it is mentioned over fifty times in the Bible. Jesus Himself demonstrated His total reliance on God the Father by fasting. As He prepared to face Satan in the wilderness, Jesus fasted for 40 days.  John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast, Paul and Barnabas fasted and the early church practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting. While teaching His disciples to fast, Jesus made it clear when we fast, we are to be authentic, transparent and leave pride at the door.

In Matthew 6:16

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

Jesus was saying fasting is a spiritual exercise, not a public demonstration, and it should be between you and God. As I mentioned, fasting is not commanded but it is interesting that Jesus says “When you fast.”

Here a few reasons for fasting:  

  1. Fasting is a means of personal cleansing. 

Daniel 9:2-5 NLT

“During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the Lord, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.”

No matter how much we attempt to avoid the impact of living in a fallen world, the influence it has on us is obvious. There are times in our lives where we need to separate ourselves from the influence of the world so we can truly hear from God.

2. Fasting prepares us for God’s work in our lives.

Acts 13:1-3 NLT

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas ), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

As we prepare for what God calls us to, fasting puts us in the right frame of mind for God to conform us to that purpose and to His image and also His will. 

3. In the most trying moments of life, fasting helps us to intensify our focus and prayers for others. 

Nehemiah 1:3-4

“They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”

Through deep prayer we can combat spiritual opposition and satanic strongholds. When Satan gains a foothold in our lives, we tend to try everything but fasting. When difficulties arise, as followers of Christ, we have the ability to harness the potential of the Holy Spirit through fasting and prayer. When Satan did his best to tempt Jesus, a fasting Messiah triumphed over the evil one. How many times have we cheated ourselves out of victory by not heeding the truth of scripture in fasting against strongholds. 

Psalms 34:8 NLT

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” 

DAY 10 CHALLENGE

GO ON A FAST TODAY

Choose something to abstain from for 24 hours. Choose something that’s meaningful to you and will make a noticeable difference in your life not having it. Most people will choose to fast from food, but you could also give up television, social media, your cell phone, your daily intake of caffeine etc.  As you are fasting, and you think about what it is you are giving up, use those moments to pray to God and thank Him for His provision in your life.     



DAY 9 RED LETTER CHALLENGE

Have you ever gone through an entire day and realized you didn’t have time to pray or read your Bible? We live in such a busy world, the day to day stress of working and making ends meet can tempt us to cut time with Jesus out of our lives completely.  Jesus understood the demands of life and wanted His followers to know the importance worrying less, slowing down and spending time with Him.    

It’s not easy, but if we trust Him and give Him first place in our hearts and lives, Jesus promises that he will provide for all our needs.

Read Matt 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

While it can be so easy to get caught up in making it through the day; we can’t lose sight of the fact that God is in control and He knows exactly what we need. It’s our job to seek His kingdom first and trust Him with the details of our lives. Jesus wants to be the most important thing in our lives and he wants us to trust him with the cares of life. You make think “that all sounds good but it’s easier said than done.” You’re right! To put God first, you have to spend quality time with Him. That only happens when we intentionally make Him a priority. We fill our lives with so many things, but fail to make time for Jesus, the most important thing!

DAY 9 CHALLENGE
As we focus on BEING with Jesus, we may need to say “No” to many good things, so we can say “Yes” to the best thing. Take your Bible and get away from all of the distractions.  Try to spend 30 minutes getting to know Jesus by reading His word and praying.
Re-read Matthew 6:25-34, write down the things in this passage that you find yourself worrying about continually.  Pray and ask God to give you confidence to trust Him to handle these things. Ask God for strength to trust Him with the details of your life, big and small!