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Red Letter Challenge – Day 40

October 19 – Day 40
“Going”

“Go therefore and make disciples.” – Matthew 28:19

Following Jesus is the greatest opportunity we will ever have in our lives.  I think the disciples understood this as they immediately left behind their trades and careers to follow Jesus when He called them.  I don’t know if we truly understand how special it is to be a disciple of Jesus.

When Jesus was born in Israel, the people who were the most highly respected were those who taught the first five books of the Old Testament.  They were known as rabbis and Jesus was referred to as a rabbi or teacher many times in the New Testament.  In those days it usually took a great deal of work to become a disciple of a rabbi and usually only the best of the best made it.

The disciples Jesus chose were not the best of the best.  He called guys who didn’t go to rabbi school, guys who were unschooled, ordinary men like Peter, Andrew, James, and John.  These guys didn’t deserve to follow after the greatest rabbi ever, so can you imagine how excited they were to get the call from Jesus to follow Him.

Challenge: Become a disciple or follower of Jesus.  If you are not a follower of Jesus, find one or two people who are mature disciples of Jesus and ask them to mentor you.  If you are already a mature follower of Jesus, seek out one or two people you could mentor.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 240-245.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 39

October 18 – Day 39
“Going”

“You did not choose me, but I chose and appointed you.” – John 15:16

As we wrap up this 40-day Challenge, remember that God loves you for who you are.  He chose you to be His son or His daughter before the foundations of the world even existed and before you ever did a thing.  You don’t have to earn your way into a relationship with God.  In addition, He has not chosen you because of your efforts, but simply because He loves you.

When you follow Jesus, there will be days that you struggle.  There will be days that won’t go as planned.  The Christian walk is not easy, but when you fail, it does not disqualify you from being a follower of Jesus.  With only a couple of days left, remember that God is the one who gives you your identity.  Who you think you are will determine what decisions you make and how you live your life.  Your identity was given to you by God and it was confirmed when your sins were nailed to the cross.  Why would we look to anyone or anything other than God for our identity?

No matter how you’ve done in this Challenge, God still loves you and He’s still chosen you.  Don’t get defeated or frustrated.  Get right back up and keep moving.  You have a story to tell.

Challenge:  Choose someone today who hasn’t done anything to earn your favor and find a way to bless that person.  

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 234-238.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 38

October 17 – Day 38
“Going”

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”  People love this quote and I think it’s great, because it emphasizes that our actions are very important when it comes to living out our faith.  But I think far too many people look at this quote and use it as an excuse to never speak.  There is a time to show people who Jesus is through our actions, but there is definitely a time to speak as well.  It’s not an either/or, but it’s a both/and.  I need to both show people who God is through my actions and I need to speak the Gospel.

We’ve lost our boldness when it comes to speaking about God.  Many of us would rather do anything else.  Why is that the case?  If God has truly died on the cross for you and paid the price that you deserved to pay, if He has literally rescued you from hell, wouldn’t you want to share that good news with others?  There are many people around us who do not know Jesus, and we have a responsibility to both show them and tell them all about Jesus.

Challenge: Write down five people in your life who do not have a relationship with Jesus or who do not attend a church.  Talk to one of those five people today about your testimony.  Make a plan over the next month to speak to the other four.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 228-233.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 37

October 16 – Day 37
“Going”

“You will be my witnesses.” – Acts 1:8

Each of us is unique and God has done extraordinary things for each of us by saving us from our sins and giving us eternal life.  Beyond that, God has done so much else for us and each of us has a story to tell.  What has God done for you?  What difference has God made in your life?  I believe answering those questions is far more effective than some of our evangelism strategies.  People connect with you when they hear how God has made an impact in your life.

The Bible reminds us that when we speak about Jesus, we do not go alone.  We go with His Holy Spirit and His power.  Many times in the Gospels, Jesus says that when we speak on His behalf His Holy Spirit will speak through us.  He will give us the words to say.  When you testify about who Jesus is and what He has done for you, God’s Spirit is given the opportunity to work powerfully and mightily through you.  Don’t underestimate what God can do through you and your story.

Challenge: Write down your testimony.  If you are struggling with what to write, answer these two questions: What has God done for you?  What difference has God made in your life? 

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 216-219.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 36

October 15 – Day 36
“Going” 

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35

One of the best ways to grow the church and build God’s Kingdom is to continue meeting new people and getting involved in the community.  However, it’s not always easy to meet new people and it may not feel very comfortable to form new relationships outside of your circle of Christian friends.  But God never calls us to a life of comfort and ease.  Instead, He calls us to a life that pushes us out of our comfort zone.

I believe that the more I push myself out of my comfort zone, the more God shows up.  One of the nicknames of the Holy Spirit is the “Great Comforter.”  You probably don’t need the Holy Spirit if you never leave your comfort zone, but when you go beyond the levels of your comfort, you experience parts of God you would otherwise miss.  Therefore, I encourage you today to get more involved with people you don’t know very well or with people you may not know yet.  You never know where God might lead your relationship.

Challenge: Talk to a neighbor you haven’t met yet or to one you don’t know very well.  Try meeting new people this week.  Consider asking a friend to go with you to meet new people.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 210-215.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 35

Good Morning!

Today we begin our last week of our Red Letter Challenge with an emphasis on “Going.”

October 14 – Day 35
“Going” 

“Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.” – Luke 8:39

You have probably heard statistics about how important family time is, and yet it seems like families are spending less and less quality time together.  Several years ago Time magazine had an article that said: “Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely children are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders, and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words, and know which fork to use.”  It may not sound like a big deal to have family dinner together, but clearly it’s important.  And what’s most important is spending time together doing things that glorify God.

In these moments, we can tell our children and family members about God and what He’s done.  Therefore, before we go out and proclaim to the world who God is, let’s first remember that we are living out our faith in our home.  How can you be a better witness of God’s love today?  Are there ways you can engage in godly conversations more often?  Do you pray with your spouse?  All of these questions are good to consider when talking about declaring what God has done in our homes.

Challenge: Gather your family or friends together today and share what God has done for you.  Pray with your family or friends and have everyone pray at least one sentence.  Try doing this as a family for a week.  If you don’t know what to pray, start by thanking God for all the things He has given to you and done for you. 

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 204-209.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 33

October 12 – Day 33
“Giving” 

“It is better to give than to receive” – Acts 20:35

Is it really better to give than to receive?  When we were children I’m sure most of us thought it was much better to get things than to give them.  However, as adults I’m sure we get much more satisfaction in giving a gift than in receiving one.  When I buy a gift for someone I truly care about, it’s hard to keep it a secret.  I usually want to give it to them right away.

We have all been given the most amazing gift in the entire world by receiving the grace of Jesus in our life.  As amazing as it is to receive this gift, it is even better when we can give that gift to others.  Any time I’ve ever gotten a gift I really like, I love to tell others about it.  I’m sure you are the same way, too, yet so often we fail to give people this greatest gift.  The best thing you can do with a good gift is to open it, enjoy it, and share it with others. 

Challenge: Give a great gift to a worthy person or charity today.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 196-201.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 32

October 11 – Day 32
“Giving” 

“Sell all that you possess and give to the poor.” – Mark 10:21

Yesterday we talked about tithing, but for some people giving a tithe is not really a sacrifice at all.  They believe that since they are tithing they are doing what God wants them to do.  I believe God asks us to give until it hurts, until it feels good.  The more you start giving the easier it gets.  It hurts to sacrifice at first, but if you keep giving and sacrificing, it begins to feel really good.

It is similar to exercising or working out.  If you haven’t worked out for a while and then all of a sudden go in and lift weights, you will be very sore, especially if you push yourself hard while you are there.  But you will realize it’s “good pain.”  Then you work out again and you feel less pain.  And then the next time, even less pain.  This pattern continues until you work out and experience no pain at all.

The same is true of giving.  To follow after God faithfully means following after Him with everything you have, including your money and your possessions.  He wants you to be a generous person.

Challenge:  Give sacrificially today.  Pray about where to give and how to give it.  Then act in faith.  

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 190-193.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 31

October 10 – Day 31
“Giving” 

“Do not neglect the tithe.” – Matthew 23:23

Money is an extremely divisive topic, because how you spend your money shows the condition of your heart.  Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there you heart is also.”  But there’s a second reason we don’t like to talk about money.  Money is the number one idol in our lives and it is difficult to separate people from something they love.  There is nothing wrong with money in itself.  It’s not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of money.

Jesus talked a lot about giving, but not much about tithing.  Therefore, some pastors don’t want to talk about tithing.  But 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.  If someone were to look into your bank account, would they know you are a follower of Jesus?  You cannot truly go all in for God if you cannot trust God with your money.

Challenge: Tithe for the next 6 months to your local church and watch how God works in big ways.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 184-189.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 30

October 9 – Day 30
“Giving” 

“I was naked and you gave me clothing.” – Matthew 25:36

Jesus talks in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 about making sure we don’t store up treasures on earth, but instead store up treasures in heaven.  He mentions not worrying about clothes, and this is something most of us have never had to worry about in our lives.  In fact, we could probably ask ourselves, “Do we have too much?  Can someone else benefit from the stuff that’s just sitting in our closets and dressers?

Imagine Jesus on the side of the road with no clothes.  If you knew it was Jesus what would you do?  Of course you would clothe Him.  You would give Him whatever He needed.  If your dressers or closets are full and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll have clothes tomorrow, you can be a big part in completing today’s challenge.

Challenge: Go through your dressers and closets and give all the clothes you don’t need to charity. 

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 180-183.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 29

October 8 – Day 29
“Giving” 

“For I was hungry and you gave me food.” – Matthew 25:35

We hear a lot about food in our country.  We hear about obesity and how much Americans eat, while at the same time we hear about millions of people around the world who are without food.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do for the least of those in the world, the least privileged, we’ve done it for Him.  He says that the people who take care of the least privileged will be the ones who are welcomed into His Kingdom.

This is not a scare tactic.  Jesus is simply saying that those who believe in Him are people who help the least privileged, it’s what they do.  The stronger a person’s relationship with God, the more natural it becomes to take care of God’s children in this world.  Even in America, the land of blessing and opportunity, people are still starving.  They need help, and who better to help them than the followers of Jesus?

Challenge: Give food to the needy.  This can be done to someone on the side of the street, or to our Backpack Buddies program or Matthew Ministry at Holy Cross.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 176-179.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 28

Good Morning!

This week’s devotions will focus on the fourth principle of “Giving.”

October 7 – Day 28
“Giving”

“Lend, expecting nothing in return.” – Luke 6:35

How many times have you truly given something and not received anything in return?  The reality is it’s actually hard to give without getting something in return.  We worship a God who gave up His most prized possession for us, His very own Son, Jesus, to die for us.  Through His death and resurrection, He paid the entire price for all the sin we’ve ever committed and ever will commit.  How disappointing it must be for God to look at us and see that we still fail Him.

If God sent Jesus expecting that after His death and resurrection we would be eternally grateful and therefore live lives of complete holiness, then 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.  This is what it means to lend, or give, without expecting in return.  We do not give because we have to, we give because we want to be like Jesus.

Challenge: As we start our week of giving, lend or give to someone and don’t ask for or expect anything in return. 

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 166-169.


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 26

October 5 – Day 26
“Serving” 

“Let your light shine before others” – Matthew 5:16

It is important for us to not just talk about doing good things and meeting needs in the community, but to actually do them.  In this Challenge we are to point people to God by letting our light shine.  God has wanted us to represent Him to the rest of the world from the beginning.  This is what He wanted to do with the Israelites in the Old Testament; this is what He wanted for His disciples; and this is what He calls us, as His followers who make up the church, to do today.  The amazing thing is that Jesus actually says that someone can see the good deeds we do and glorify God because of us.

It’s amazing to think that through what we do and the way we live, we can actually point people to a real relationship with God.  We may never know what kind of impact we have made in somebody else’s life, but we will continue to be faithful in serving Him and giving Him the glory.

Challenge: Serve God today in one of the following ways:

  • Volunteer at a food pantry or at a shelter.
  • Clean a neighbor’s yard.
  • Visit an elderly person.
  • Encourage someone who is sick.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 158-163.


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Choir

Melissa Sultan, our traditional service music director, will begin choir practice this Sunday, October 6, at 10:00am in the sanctuary.  If you are interested in singing with the choir please come to practice this Sunday to learn more about their plans and rehearsal schedule.  If you have any questions please contact Melissa at mgsultan96@gmail.com.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill


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Red Letter Challenge – Day 25

October 4 – Day 25
“Serving” 

“I was sick and you took care of me.” – Matthew 25:35

There is a story in the Bible about a man who was paralyzed.  The man had four friends who carried him on a mat to see Jesus.  When they got to the house where Jesus was, they saw the whole house was full of people.  Rather than give up, they took their friend all the way to the top of the roof and lowered him through a hole so he could Jesus.  When Jesus saw the faith of the friends He forgave the paralyzed man and healed him.

I don’t know how or why God heals some and not others.  It seems like He heals some who have faith and others who have no faith.  But 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.

Who do you know who is sick?  Who do you know who needs our encouragement?  Being sick is not what we were meant for, so 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 sort of life. 

Challenge: If you know someone who is sick, then visit that person.  Encourage, support, or call him/her.  If you can’t do that, then send a gift or message to someone you know who is sick.  

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Bill

Today’s devotion came from the book, “Red Letter Challenge,” by Zach Zehnder, pages 154-157.


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Holy Cross Calendar