Challenge Day 30

Today’s Inspiration. Do you ever start doing something differently with every good intention to keep up with it, only to give up days or weeks later? Most people think about this around February, when all of their New Year’s Resolutions lay forgotten by the wayside and the Girl Scout Cookies they bought from their friend’s daughter sit enticingly on the kitchen counter. I’m thinking of diet/food analogies now because I recently ended a health/weight loss challenge and without that motivation and accountability, I’m floundering and my appetite is growing.

Sigh.

As this challenge month is drawing to a close, there is one word that keeps coming to mind as being important: continue. Because what I’ve been challenging you to do—what you may have spent the past month doing—pray, read the Bible, love God and love people and love yourself intentionally, and encourage and build each other up, is important to do beyond this month. It is important enough to continue. You may have been doing something like this already; even if you have an established, daily habit of your own, this message is for you, too. Continue.

Challenge Day 30 Continue #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Paul urged the Thessalonians to do that in the verse we’ve been using for a few days now:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

Did you see that? Just as in fact you are doing.

I know you’re already doing it, acknowledges Paul. Be sure to keep doing it. Continue.

Today’s Challenge. Your challenge today is to pray about what God wants you to commit to continuing to do—between you and him and with the help of his Holy Spirit. Or perhaps there’s something new you need to start and then continue. Write it down. Figure something out and start small. And then find someone to keep you accountable—without someone there to motivate and encourage you, you may end up scarfing down a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

Today’s Participation. Share what you’ve decided to commit to online (#writinglifeaugustchallenge) or in conversation with someone.

Challenge Day 29

Today’s Inspiration. In your day-to-day life, are you more often a construction worker, or a demolitionist? Someone who builds, or someone who destroys?

I’m not talking buildings—physical structures—I’m talking people.

I am ashamed to admit that I find myself tearing other people down too often. Usually—and sadly—it’s those I profess to love the most that feel the brunt of this, because they’re the ones who see me at my worst. It’s like Paul said: “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Those are often the worst times. The best times are those when I am able to follow Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, which we’re going back to for today’s inspirational verse:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

Today’s challenge comes from the phrase build each other up.

Challenge Day 29 build up #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Earlier, I compared someone who builds people up to a construction worker. The idea is not far off—the Greek this word is translated from gives the sense of “to be a house-builder, i.e. Construct or confirm.” Your challenge today is to think about what it takes to construct something like a house and what the implications are when you apply that to a person or people. What does, or would, it take to build up another person? Pray for understanding as you begin. You may also want to look at cross-references for this verse to help you gain a better understanding of Paul’s meaning (he used the same type of language in 2 Corinthians 12:19 and Ephesians 4:29).

The next part is the harder one—pray about who, in your own life, you should work to build up. Then pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in doing just that—it’s something that is difficult to do in our own power, but possible with God.

Today’s Participation. Try your hand at some art today! Sketch a home or another structure to help you think through what it takes to build something similar, but label parts not as physical building materials, but spiritual ones. Share your sketch online or with a friend. (For Instagram, use #writinglifeaugustchallenge and follow me so I can see it!)

Challenge Day 27

Today’s Inspiration. Love God. Love your neighbor. That’s what we’ve been exploring since Day 19. And while your neighbor turned out to be anyone around you, the Bible also tells us to pay special attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of those verses is today’s inspiration:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

We’ll look to the words Therefore encourage one another for the challenge today.

Old red milk jug sitting in front of a beige brick wall. Photo text: Challenge Day 27, encourage one another. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. One thing I’ve learned from sitting under wise, Bible-loving pastors all my life: When you see the word therefore at the beginning of the verse, you need to know what came before it. Knowing that will help you put the verse into context.

Your challenge today, then, is to pray for understanding and then read through 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. You know Paul is telling his readers (and you!) to encourage one another, but why? The therefore indicates that he has just given the reason for this. In English we know this little word as a transition word, meant to connect two ideas and show the relationship between them. What Paul’s saying here is, Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you to encourage them. I’ve just given you the reasons they need this encouragement. 

Your mission? To read through and understand those reasons.

Today’s Participation. Complete the statement, “I need to encourage other Christians because ______________.” Use your understanding of the passage you read today to help you complete it. Then share the statement with someone either face to face or online.