Give God 90: Part 2 days 30 – 60

            When you reach this part of the challenge, you might have questions such as; why do I feel different? This is a great question to have! You should look and feel different because when you follow God’s instructions you become a different person. Now it’s time to really expand that feeling, and begin to see others through the eyes of the new you. Notice how people do little things, the look on their face, is it happy or sad? How they walk, are they just wandering around aimlessly or is there a destination? There are signs that people show when they truly need our help, if we are willing to see them. Yes it is time to examine how we treat others who are less fortunate than you may be.

            If you are thinking that you can’t afford to help anyone else, don’t be so quick to put limits on helping others. Money is only one way we help but that is not the only way we show charity to our neighbors. Deuteronomy 15; 11 reveals that the poor will always be around so there will always be someone we have a chance to help. Just because we have been trained to think of a poor person needing money doesn’t mean that is the only thing a person needs. Handing someone a dollar or two is quick and easy, doing that gets you away from an uncomfortable situation and gives you the illusion that you helped someone; but did you help them or did you pass up an opportunity to display a real act of compassion? Proverbs 25; 21 reads that we should even feed and offer water to our enemy and that may satisfy their physical need but it also satisfies our spiritual needs. When we throw money at a problem, we keep distance between the problem and ourselves. When we take time to speak with someone who is hurting or offer a meal to someone who is hungry we close the distance. This action may not always be comfortable, offering to listen to someone grieve the loss of a loved one or cry while expressing their situation might be a challenge for you but this is a 90 day challenge, a time to try things God’s way.

            Don’t get caught in the routine of “I gave at church” or “that’s not my calling” God puts people in your life that need something you have to offer. You have been given the ability to recognize the need and now you know that acts of compassion are always allowed, even on the Sabbath.  When any animal was in trouble, even on the Sabbath, a person is required to help. In fact any act to save a life is allowed on the Sabbath, animal and especially Human. These acts of compassion are an important part of our spiritual lives they connect us to each other and to God. How is it possible to connect to another person by simply dropping a can of beans in a box at the local food drive? No matter how good the cause may be that you may give to, take the time to do something on your own, go see the widow, take a pie to the neighbor or just listen to that person who needs an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on for a while. In other words don’t neglect the people around you that you have the ability to help. If what they need is more than you are able to provide maybe you pointing them in the right direction is all you can do.

            Don’t confuse that 10% tithing with your charitable giving; the original intent of the 10% was to go to the Levites. This is because they were the ones chosen to be the example for the rest of the nation, they could not own land and their job was to serve as priests. Consider them the first public servants, (without all the perks like today) the Levites truly were serving the rest of the nation and that 10% todays preachers refer to when the church wants more money; well that is different than the charitable giving. Even though if you attend a local church you should contribute to their needs like helping to keep the lights on, just remember, there is a difference between your obligation and your free charity and only you can decide where to draw that line.

There is an old saying “you have to spend money to make money” and that might be true. So expanding on that thought, we should give money to get money and then take it one step farther, we should satisfy someone else’s needs to receive the satisfaction we are looking for. If you are really looking for that personal satisfaction, you need to help someone other than yourself satisfy their needs first. So look around you, there is someone you have the chance to help. If you really don’t have any money, don’t worry, you probably have time. Time to chat or more importantly, listen; time to drive someone to the doctor or the store or maybe even time to share a meal with the lonely widow, don’t miss any opportunity God is giving you.

As you incorporate more of God’s instructions into your life, you might notice that some things you used to think were just for others are really about all of us. Someone used to say, “God said it, I believe it, and that is that.” Well the question becomes if God said it and you believe it; WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING WHAT HE SAID TO DO?????? Some of you might be thinking “I am doing what the preacher said to do” or “I’m doing the best I can.” If you are taking this challenge seriously, and putting these suggestions into your life, you’re off to a good start. Remember when you began this challenge all we wanted was a short time morning an night to spend in prayer and reading? If you haven’t expanded that time already, now is the time, 20 to 30 minutes morning and night. (Most people waste that much time checking their Facebook) As you give God more of your time, He will give you more of His. Chances are if you have been faithful and doing this challenge, you already are seeing the evidence of that. If not, it will show up when you are not expecting it.

            Day 35, Look at yourself, be honest, think about the music you listen to, the books you read and the T.V. and movies you watch. Do these things improve your life or are they tearing your life down. Everyone is different, so this is an individual choice, are the things you are exposed to creating confusion and drama in your life? Seriously, take a day to concentrate on what you watch and listen to for entertainment. Again be honest and don’t try to justify to anyone, you have to live with what you do. You have been studying and living God’s word for a month, you should have an idea of the difference between what He would choose and what you are choosing. Now might be a good time to add 2 things to your daily prayers; ask God to teach you to love what He loves, then ask god to teach you to hate the things He hates. This isn’t easy, there are things God considers so disgusting we are told not to have anything to do with them. The good news is, there are so many more good things that we are told we should embrace in our lives.

            When we change our attitude and begin to really follow the Creator’s instructions for us, the new Godly habits begin to replace the old bad habits in our life. We think before we act, we show concern and compassion for others before ourselves, our old habits lose their control over us and we feel better physically and spiritually.

            As you continue, day 40 – 45 you are half way through. Most people will be able to see some improvement in their life at this point but not everyone. If you notice things getting better for you that is great, if not don’t give up! You have a lot of time invested in getting to where you are, now is not the time to quit; just the opposite, now is the time to dive deeper and really commit yourself to following the instructions. Sound difficult? It really isn’t, you have been learning to crawl, stand and walk, now it’s time to run and jump.        

            This part might be the most difficult, look at your circle of friends, the people you hang out with. Ask yourself an honest question; “if I moved more than a 10 hour drive away, would anyone miss me for more than a month?”  If you moved, would these people you call friends still be friends? Would they drop everything and help you if you were in trouble? Would you be able to rely on them to “circle the wagons” if things were really, REALLY bad? Or do these people consider you convenient, comfortable or just a warm body to take up space? True friends are rare and hard to find, they do all of the things described above and more; real friends are often more close than family because real friends are the people we meet through divine appointment.  Many people become acquaintances or coworkers, they may have the same interests or enjoy the same foods but that doesn’t make them friends. Real friends will know you well enough to know when you need to hear from them and when they need to leave you alone and that is the kind of love it takes to be a real friend. The question is not who knows you that well; instead the question is who do you know that well? Think about the people in your life, who do you know so well that even if you have not seen each other for a few months you know when they need to hear from you?

            Since you have been doing things God’s way, do you have the confidence to have a friend like David and Jonathan were friends. 1 Samuel 18 reads their souls were tied together. Imagine how much courage someone needs to share their deepest feelings with another person. Being able to admit to the things that frighten you or to the things you might enjoy that some people think might be odd are things you would only say to a real friend. Friendship is important, throughout the Bible we see how friendships are made and tested, and just to avoid any confusion; we are not dealing with marriage in this context of friendship. That is a topic for another challenge! Concentrate on who you know, who do you encourage when they are feeling low or help out when they need it. Who can depend on you?

            Chances are God has already placed someone in your life that you are able to connect with and be a real friend. Having somebody being able to rely on you is a little scary, being responsible means we stop and think before we act. That doesn’t mean we always make the right decision it means we took time to think and made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time.

            Friendships do come with challenges, sometimes we don’t want to say the hard things or we try to sugarcoat or even avoid tough times but real friends work through it, they want the same thing; when things calm down they want to still be friends.

            So far we have looked at our physical, emotional and spiritual health and examined the things that we put into our bodies, minds and spirits. We have thought about what we eat, see, hear and who are friends are. If you have been completely honest with yourself, you may have decided to make some changes. Try to be patient and give those changes a chance to adjust and adapt to the new you. Between days 50 – 60 continue with your daily study time at least 30 minutes morning and night. Look for those people around you that are giving you the opportunity to connect with them. Be careful what you watch and listen to for entertainment. Finally before you begin the last 30 days of this challenge, think about where you were 60 days ago. Has beginning to live your life the way God intended already working to improve you? If this has had a positive influence on you in the first 60 days the next 30 will only get better. If you haven’t noticed a difference yet, don’t worry; you will.