Growing up my mum had a “promise box” this was a little box filled with small pieces of paper rolled into little scrolls which had texts on them which contained promises from the bible. The idea was that each day you picked a little scroll and got an encouraging promise from God. Now I don’t think this a great form of biblical exegesis but it did form an important part of the spirituality of a lot of people, especially women, for a long time and at least it did make them aware of and interact with what Scripture was saying.
I have been thinking about my own spirituality lately and noticed a distinct tendency towards apathy. I suspect that I probably need a sanctified kick up the rear. I have been wondering about updating the old “promise box” idea for the 21st century and producing a “challenge box” In the challenge box would be little scrolls but this time they would contain not the promises of the Bible but its challenges. Here are some of the verses that I think I am going to include in my challenge box because they challenge some pronounced tendencies in my character that need challenged.

Matthew 16:24 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 5:44-47 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies {Some late manuscripts enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you} and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Matthew 5:48 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 6:15 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:24 24 “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Matthew 7:2-5 2 For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: `Love your neighbour as yourself.’

John 20:20-21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I amwith you always, to the very end of the age.”

1 Peter 1:15-16 5 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” {Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7}

Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual {Or reasonable} act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:3 Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Romans 12:10-11 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

Ephesians 4:29 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:31 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I don’t seriously mean to create a “challenge box” but I do seriously need to hear what God is saying to me through verses like these and respond to Him. How do you keep yourself open to hearing and responding to God’s challenges?

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