Sunday, December 21, 2014

Emulating Christ Christmas Challenge

Emulating Christ Christmas Challenge
This is a challenge I have been doing daily on Facebook.  I wanted to archive it on my blog.  I invite you to join us... Scroll down to the day and start where we are.  I invite you to go back and do the other days between Christmas and New Year and use Day 1 as your New Years resolution this year.  Thanks for Sharing the gift and sharing your light.  Together we can make this world a brighter place and we reach out to each other in loving kindness.

17 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Refuse to say anything bad about anybody the entire day.

Christ never spoke evil of others. He did not gossip, complain, or berate. At times He spoke truth forcefully when He needed to stand up for what was right, but it never did it with the intention of hurting others. His goal was always to encourage them to change.
Psalms 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

16 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY:Try to see the potential in the people around you. Encourage and express to someone what you see in them. 

Christ saw endless possibilities in others. He encouraged them to reach beyond where they were and to become someone better. With the woman taken in adultery he said, "Go and sin no more..."encouraging her to move beyond her sin. (John 8:11) With the Young Man who had 'kept the commandments since his youth,' He challenged him to give up the things of this world to follow Him. (Luke 18:21-22).  

Wherever we are, the Savior beckons us to rise up and be more and do more because He sees in us more than we see in ourselves. We can be that same voice of encouragement to our friends and families. 

15 Days until Christmas..
CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: The Savior was patient with all he taught. Every day we encounter people who are not at the same place we are. Because of age, because of experience, or other factors they may not understand the things that comes easy to us. Today be more patient and understanding with those around you, including your children. 
2 Peter 1: 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
The Savior was patient with those he taught teaching story after story in parables to help them understand principles. He continued to teach and entreat the people to be obedient even when they did not seem to quickly understand. He didn't get frustrated at those who asked Him simple questions or came to hear Him teach without thought of bringing food. He was even patient with the Twelve when they could not cast out devils or stay awake with Him in the Garden of Gesthemany. He understood we all need time to grow and He was willing to give that time. He said, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." (1 Corinthians 3:2) As we are patient with others and their progress we walk the path of the Savior.

14 Days until Christmas...

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes and offer words of compassion and comfort to someone who is having a hard time.
John 11:35 Jesus wept
Christ wept and mourned with those that mourned. He comforted those that stood in need of comfort. He never compared His challenges to others in the attempt to 'one up' them. His compassion was perfect. As we seek to emulate Christ-like character we can be aware of how we respond to others in their time of need. We can attempt to change our words and we can pray for a greater depth of compassion for those we serve.

13 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Reflect on a trial, affliction or difficulty in your life. Determine how you will more patiently wait on the Lord and His timing. Be more willing in prayer to accept your cup and ask to let those experiences change you so that you can be a better servant to Him.
Psalms 27:14 "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
Christ was not only patient with others, He was patient with His Heavenly Father's will and timing. Christ prayed in the Garden of Gesthemany, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt 26:39) Christ was willing to fulfill His divinely appointed role and to pass through suffering because He trusted His Father implicitly. He knew that it was for His own schooling and for the greater good of us all. 
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12)

12 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Make a plan to help the poor and needy this Christmas.
The Savior was always ministering to the poor. He provided food for the hungry and kept His company with them often. 
"Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”
“What mean ye,” He cried, “that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?” (Isaiah 3:14–15.)
The writer of Proverbs would make the matter piercingly clear: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker,” and “whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor … shall [also] cry himself, but shall not be heard.” (Proverbs 14:31; 21:13.)" - Jeffery R. Holland

11 Days until Christmas...

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Complain less and be more grateful especially in your prayers.
Despite the difficulties in the Savior's life, we never hear Him complain. His prayers are full of gratitude to His Heavenly Father. Upon approaching the burial place of His dear friend Lazarus, Jesus's First words to His Heavenly Father were those of gratitude. In John 11:41 we read, "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." Because Jesus's will was completely aligned with His Father's he was able to be grateful in any circumstance. He saw the bigger picture through His faith and He understood how tragedy could work for good.
Psalms 95:1-2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
As we approach God with gratitude and live with a grateful heart, the Spirit will grant us greater understanding into our difficulties and trials.

10 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Be a healing influence in someone's life today. Heal a relationship, heal a self-esteem, help guide someone back on the spiritual path of healing.
The Savior came with 'healing in His wings." (Malachi 4:2) He healed the sick, the lame, the blind... in deed "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." (Matt 4:23-24) After a multitude of healing, Jesus caps off this nonstop scriptural sequence with these verses... 
"36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matt 9:36-38)
Surely that is a call is heal one another as much as it is a call to share His word, because as Christ went about teaching, he also bound up the wounds of the sick and afflicted. With the help of the Savior, we can be healers as well.

9 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Look inward at your personal purity. What unpure desires can you refine or give up in order to have a closer relationship with Christ.
Christ was pure. He was the pure unblemished lamb that was required in sacrifice under the Mosaic law. Because of His personal purity He was able to be that sacrifice and to have the relationship with His Father that is referred to as 'being one' in the scriptures.
Christ said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matt 5:8) It is an attribute that we must strive towards if we someday desire to live in the presence of God. 
"Whatsoever things are pure, think on these things" Philip. 4:8
"He that hath clean hands and a pure heart shall receive the Lord’s blessings" Ps. 24:3–5
When I think of 'clean hands' I think of actions and when I think of 'pure hearts' I think of desires and thoughts. May we all strive to follow the path of the Savior and seek for greater personal purity through His grace and through are willingness to take the necessary steps that move us along that path.

8 Days until Christmas...

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Be determined to be more faithful to the commandments and what you know to be true and right. Set a goal to work on one area that you struggle with.
Christ was perfectly faithful to all that He was entrusted to do. Regardless of personal sacrifice or cost He walked the path His Father asked Him to walk.
Christ told the parable of the 5 talents that illustrates our need to be faithful and wise stewards. (Matt 25: 14-30) 
Matt 25: 23 "His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." 
We are to be about the master's work as He was about His Father's work. "wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?" (Luke 2:49)
If we are trustworthy in that charge that He can entrust us with more responsibility and the help and enablement that accompanies those trusts.
2 Timothy 2:21 "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work."
Psalms 101:6 "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that awalketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me."

7 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Give the gift of your time to someone this Christmas instead of a store bought gift.
Christ always made time for others even when He was busy or tired. He never sent the people away often setting His plans aside. If they needed Him, He taught, He ministered and He healed them.
Needing a break to rest and eat, the Savior planned to depart privately in a ship with his apostles, yet the people upon seeing them preparing to depart gathered around Jesus (Mark 6:30-33) "And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things." (vs 34) Then instead of sending them away after the day was 'far spent' in teaching, He gifts them with the miracle of feeding the five thousand. (vs 35-44) We often focus on the gift of food in this parable and not the gift of time that the Savior spent with them prior to this miracle and despite his own hunger and fatigue.
This year for Christmas my children and I are giving gifts of service to each other. I am excited to see the things that my kids have come up to do for each other and for me, and I am excited to see how that increases our love for each other.
My very favorite Christmas growing up was my senior year. I knew it was my last Christmas at home and I wanted to make it special. I locked myself in the bathroom and drew portraits of all of my siblings and parents. Then I went through our family's old slides and put together a slide show of memories. I don't remember at all what I got that year, but I remember how I felt about my family as I made those gifts and I shared the slide show and my love for them that Christmas morning. There were lots of tears and hugs. That was my favorite Christmas.

6 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Be joyful and be positive today. Look for joy in your life and share that joy and happiness with others. 
The very gift of the Savior into this world was to bring joy. "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2:10)
True joy comes from being obedient to God and developing loving, kind relationships with others. As we are more in harmony with the Savior's teachings we can experience a greater fullness of joy.
John 15:10-11 "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
Joy is not just temporary pleasure or fleeting happiness. Joy is lasting; it is eternal and it is what we feel as we are close to Christ. It is possible to feel joy even in very trying and difficult circumstances. Unfortunately we often trade joy for temporary pleasure when we choose behavior that brings self-gratification and turn to self instead of turning outwards to others and being obedient to the commandments. 
I encourage you to not only share joy, but to see a greater measure of it through righteous living, that your joy may be full.

5 Days until Christmas...

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Think of a relationship where you need to be more forgiving. Make a commitment to work on letting go of grudges or hurts from the past. Choose not to get offended by little things. Allow this person the opportunity to grow and change and express you confidence in their ability to do so.
Christ extended the hand of mercy to all who will come to him. 
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matt 5:7)
Christ taught us to forgive all men, because in so doing we free ourselves of negative feelings that block the promptings and help that comes from the spirit. 
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32 )
Christ in pure love, even sought forgiveness to those who were carrying out his crucifixion. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." (Luke 23:34)
By following this Christlike trait we ensure that His arm of mercy and His forgiveness will be offered to us.
Mark 11:25-26: "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."

This is a message from a Widower that I heard speak at a conference 2 years ago. 
His story of forgiveness is amazing and has help me to forgive.

4 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Commit to live with great integrity in your life.  Choose a place where you struggle to act consistently with your beliefs.  We all have areas of Hypocrisy where we do not fully practice what we know we should do.  As we identify those and work on them one by one, we Come unto Christ and allow His spirit to enter into us, strengthen us, and change us.

The Savior is the perfect example of integrity; He did what He promised the Father He would do. His actions were always consistent with his beliefs despite social pressures and even threats on His life.  Christ sealed his testimony with his death just as many of the apostle did following his example. 
Psalms 26:1 "Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide."
Job 31:6 "Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity."
Christ taught of the dangers of hypocrisy and counseled us to cleanse the inner vessle. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto awhited bsepulchres, which indeed appear cbeautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all duncleanness." Matthew 23:27

As we purify our lives and make our actions constant with our beliefs we will take on the Character of Christ more fully in our lives.  He will be in us.  

3 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Choose to respond in a meek or gentle and humble way today to help keep the peace and foster good feelings.  

Meekness is a culmination of many virtues.  It is not weakness, but is displayed in quiet confidence that does not have to always have the right answer or shine in forefront. Meekness is the subtraction of self from the equation. A meek person is teachable and correctable.  He is rarely frustrated or distracted by daily mishaps because he sees a larger picture in life.  His goal is to help other so with empathy he easily forgives and is unselfish in his motivations.  A meek person never abuses power, but used his influence to bless others

The Savior was described as being "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29)

Paul extolled the "meekness and gentleness of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:1)

Peter encouraged "The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." (1 Peter 3:4) because it is essential to our greater happiness here and our ability to receive greater joy in the hereafter.

Meekness is one of the culminating virtue in Christ-like Character.

2 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY: Choose to show the pure love of Christ to someone today.  This is what I will refer to as charity. (The archaic version of the word charity stem from the Christian love of one's fellowmen.  It refers to kindness and tolerance of others) 

Charity along with meekness is one of the cardinal virtues that Christ displayed.  As we learn to love others as He loves them, we place ourselves in a better position to serve and help them choose to make changes for the better.  Charity allows us to share His light with others.
 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faithhopecharity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
  Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

1 Days until Christmas... 

CHALLENGE FOR TODAY:  Look back at the 16 traits of Christ that we have touch on during this challenge.  Choose one or a few to work on this coming year.  Write your commitment to Christ as a gift to give to Him this next year.  Encourage you family to think of a gift they can give the Savior this Christmas, then as part of your Christmas day celebration share your commitment with your family members.

I hope that this challenge has helped you to think more about Christ and has brought His joy into your life this season, but more than that, I hope that it will only be the beginning of a new way of living your life this up coming year.  Continue to #SharetheGift that you have been given and to #ShareGoodness in this world.  As we all draw nearer to Him, we will create a better place for all of us to live.  His light is contagious and although you don't not feel that you make a big dent in the bad of this world, there are ripples you cannot see.  Thank you for your goodness and for your commitment to reach out to others and do better. :)  Here is a quick list of the Character traits of Christ...
  1. Loves or Has Charity
  2. Meek and Humble
  3. Has Integrity
  4. Forgives and Extends Mercy
  5. Joyful and Positive
  6. Generous with His Time
  7. Faithful and Obedient to the Commandments
  8. Personally Pure
  9. Heals and offers healing to others
  10. Grateful
  11. Assists the Poor and the Needy (Charitable)
  12. Submissive to the Lord's will and timing (Wait on the Lord in Patience)
  13. Empathetic and Compassionate
  14. Patient with others
  15. Sees the Potential in others
  16. Does not Speak Evil (gossip, complaining, berating, etc.)

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