It’s Challenge time my friends! We are going to do a 7 day bible reading challenge on faith! There are so many stories in the bible about God testing people’s faith. He does this still in all of us, he puts challenges, heartache, loss, and failure into our lives, to test our faith in Him. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the negative these days. With everyone’s perfect life being thrown in your face every social media post, to just the horrible things that are happening around the world. We sometimes forget to slow down, and really look at all the good in our lives. So we are going to slow down, and take a minute to read His word, and remember how faithful he truly is when we open our hearts to him.
Day 1: Noah Builds The Ark- Genesis 6:1-7:24:
Let’s start, at the very beginning shall we? Noah and his ark…..so God came to Noah, who by the way was 600 years old, and said “Listen, I do not like the way Earth is turning out, so I am going to just start over, clean slate. I like you though, you are a good guy, so here are some directions to build this giant boat, I know I know, you are old, but trust in me. I want you to put your entire family on this ark, yes, yes, even your son Ham (real name by the way), and oh, um I am going to need you to gather 2 of every animal too. Yeah, and could you make sure there is enough food and stuff for all of them? Yes, even the monkey’s. Sound good?”
Noah was probably just sitting there like, ummmmmm……
But God knew that Noah was faithful, and obedient to his word. He was the only one on the entire face of the Earth God even wanted to save. Can you imagine how everyone else looked at Noah and his family? They faced criticism, ridicule, rejection, mockery, but they had faith in God and did as they were told, and they were spared. They endured watching everything be washed away for 40 days and 40 nights, then it says the flood waters stayed on Earth for 150 days. When all was said and done, they were literally, the last people on Earth.
Natural disasters happen all the time in our world today. But, we never really think of a spiritual disaster, a spiritual storm. Noah prepared his family by having faith in God, and building a home for them around God. They were all spared because Noah built his home on the foundation of God’s word. How are you building your own home on the foundation of God’s word? How are you preparing your home for a storm?
It is very easy when life’s storms hit us, to forget our foundation. It is very easy to turn away from God in hard times, but it is in hard times that we need him the most.
Today I want to challenge you to write up your “Family’s Spiritual Disaster Plan”. A plan put in place by you to help get through those storms. Whether they are a list of certain prayers for life events or scripture. Be as creative as you want, and have fun with it. Because you never know when a storm is going to hit, and sometimes we don’t always have access to an ark.
Day 2: Gideon Defeats the Midianites, Judges 7: 1-25
This is another great story on just the faith in God. Gideon is about to go into battle against the Midianite’s. He is about to free his people from being under the hands of oppression. He has a huge army, he is ready to fight. Then God comes to him and says “Hey, yeah so um, you have to many men to fight. So I am going to need you to send some home” so Gideon obeyed and said to his men “If you are to scared to fight, go home” and 22,000 men left. Yes, that is right, 22,000, and only 10,000 remained. So right there Gideon pretty much just lost over half his army. Then God says to him “Okay, good job, but um yeah about those numbers, going to need less than this, take them down to the water, I will wean them out for you” Out of those 10,000 God allowed 300 to stay. So here is Gideon, about to free the Israelite’s, he had over 22,000 men, ready for battle, and under God’s command, he is now down to 300. God promised him victory, so he had to put all of his faith in God’s power.
Gideon was a brave man, a faithful man, but he knew that his enemy was strong. He won the battle using God’s weapons. He won the battle because he had faith in God’s promises.
We are all fighting our own battles, in this thing called life. Whether it be a health battle, or a marriage/relationship battle. It could be something as simple as fighting for a position at work, or as complex as fighting your own faith. What do you do though when you face these battles? Do you run away? Do you hope it will just go away? Or, do you stand and fight, leaning on God for support? Do you go into battle with God’s weapons?
Today’s challenge is I want you to write down something you are struggling with this week. I want you to imagine yourself as Gideon, with a very small army, going up against one of the largest in it’s time. I want you to pray and ask God to come with you into your own battle. Even though in the moment you may feel small and powerless, it is important to remember God will be mighty and powerful. He will equip you to do what is required of you. Put your faith in him and you will also come out victorious.
Day 3: The Birth of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1: 1-28:
Talk about faith in God on this one. Hannah was a woman of great faith, and all she wanted in life was a son. In those times, men had more than one wife, so she was the second wife. The first wife had son’s but as the bible puts it Hannah’s womb was closed, so she was unable to bare a child. The first wife was not very kind to Hannah about this and would mock her. Hannah would then weep. Hannah finally broke down one night and pleaded with the Lord she said:
“Lord Almighty, if you will only remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head”.
As always, the Lord was faithful, and he blessed Hannah finally with a son. Now, here is where her faith really comes in. She kept her promise to the Lord, and she took her only son, the one who she had prayed and prayed for to the house of the Lord and left him there to be an man of God. I mean as a mother, I just could not imagine.
Sometimes it is hard to surrender to the Lord. I do not mean your heart or your faith, I mean to really listen to what he is telling you. What kind of path he wants you to go down. It is easy to get caught up in the big houses, and the fancy cars. It is a status thing, so many of us want. But, is that really what God wants, or is it something that just you want?
Why does God insist sometimes on us giving up things that we seem to enjoy? What would happen to you if you released those things? What is one thing you are holding back from God?
This weeks challenge, take your kids to a temple and leave them there for the rest of their lives. JUUUUST KIDDING! Even though sometimes it does seem enticing. Today’s challenge is to take a look at your life, sit down and just look around. In your home, are you treating it as God’s temple? Are you putting your house, your marriage, your children, into God’s hands? What are some ways that you could reevaluate what is important to you, and obey God’s will for us?
Day 4: Solomon Asks for Wisdom, 1 Kings 3: 1-15
Solomon had just gotten the throne. If you are not familiar, Solomon is the son of David, one of the most faithful and obedient men of the bible. Solomon was young, and just became king to the largest nation of Jews.
So this kid, just gets the throne, he is feeling a little overwhelmed. But, he was raised by a faithful father, a father who showed him how to worship to the Lord. So one night Solomon is sleeping, and God comes into his dream. He says “Hey, kid, wake up, it’s me God. Ask for anything you want”. So as most young kings do he says “I will take billions and billions of dollars”, okay, just kidding, he was raised right. No, he says “You have shown great kindness to my father David, because he was a faithful man, you have given him a son to sit on his throne, but Lord, I am a child, and honestly I need your help, (in his words) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people, and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” He simply asked for wisdom.
God was obviously very pleased with this, so as our faithful God does he granted him with his wish. He made him one of the most loved rulers of that time. He also tells him that since he did not ask to be rich, or for a long life, he would grant him those things too. In other words, Solomon was not thinking about himself, he was not being selfish, he was thinking about others, and God blessed him accordingly.
It is so easy to loose our faith when we are constantly praying to God for things, but they seem to never be answered the way that we hope. When we take the time to quiet our hearts, and actually worship the Lord though, it seems that it creates context for us to encounter God; it sets our souls in motion towards God’s wisdom. Even though in times it seems like he is not answering our prayers, maybe we just aren’t asking for the right things?
Today’s challenge, reevaluate what you are asking God for. Instead of praying for possessions, or things that are really not needed, ask for God’s wisdom to help you navigate through life better. Think about it, If God offered you anything you wish, what would you ask for in that moment? Would you be obedient and faithful like Solomon was, or would you be selfish? We are all servants to God, no matter what tax bracket you are in. So today, think of ways how you could serve the Lord, or worship the Lord, so he could also be pleased with you, and bless you accordingly.
Day 5: Job Looses Everything, Job 1: 6-22
One of the best-known stories in Scripture is the book of Job. It honestly demonstrates God’s providence in a believers suffering. It also is a great story on pain and suffering but keeping your faith in the Lord.
I read the book of Job after loosing our son Nico. I actually used to play this game where I would close my eyes, open up the bible, and just read wherever it was. One day I was having a very hard day. I was angry at God for taking my son, and I was honestly having a inner battle with my faith. I was doing my morning devotional and felt like I needed to just play the bible game, so I opened up, and it was the Book of Job. It was what I like to call “A God Thing”.
So here is this man Job, he has everything he has ever wanted. He is wealthy, he has the perfect family, he was also a very faithful man to the Lord. So God is hanging out in heaven doing his thing, and some angels come to him. Along with the angels comes Satan. Satan was doing his thing down on Earth, making people hate, do bad things, go against God. God says to him, “What about Job? He is a pretty great guy, he fears God and shuns evil”. Satan says, “Well of course he does, you have given him everything he could ever dream of, why wouldn’t he? But, let’s bet on this, I will take everything away from him, and I bet he curses you, I bet he will come to the dark side”. God says “You’re on”.
So off Satan goes to the happy, God fearing Job. Job is just sitting there, minding his own business when a messenger comes, says the Sabean’s came and killed all of your oxen and donkey’s, killed them all. Then before he even finished talking another messenger comes and says, all your sheep are gone, then another messenger, all your camels are gone, then another, your entire family is dead. Within a short period of time, Job had lost his crops, his animals, and his family. He had nothing. But, Job was faithful, he did not curse God, nope, in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
I mean just imagine it in real time. You are sitting at your desk at work, and your boss comes up and says you have been fired, then before he even finishes his sentence someone comes up and yells that your house is on fire, a total loss, before you can even comprehend that, the phone rings, your entire family has been killed in a freak accident. In a blink of an eye, everything you knew in life, is gone. Would you curse God for your loss, or would you remain faithful knowing that everything comes from God, and you praise him for it?
Job really knew God, he had an intimacy with him that not many people understood back then. He knew that the only real comfort he would have during this dark time, was from God and his promises. How have you responded with bad news in the past? Were you angry? Desperate? Confused? They are all normal responses, I have had them myself, but after reading the book of Job, I also learned to praise the Lord, even when my heart is hurting.
Today’s challenge is to live a little more like Job. Even though you are going through hard times, everyone is, to remember that the one we need to lean on for comfort and understanding is our All Mighty Lord. Talk with him about your grief, or whatever is weighing heavy on your heart. Open up to him, and Praise him. Understand that going through hard times is a fact of life, but experiencing pain, or grief can help you understand and know God a little bit better.
Day 6: Daniel in the Lions Den, Daniel 6:1-28:
Pride. Pride is a very dangerous thing. It says it over and over again in the bible how God hates prideful people. Why do you think that is?
Pride is what got Daniel into trouble. King Darius respected Daniel, he knew he was a man of God and very well respected in the kingdom. He was also going to give Daniel the kingdom, which upset some people. They call them “satraps” in the bible, but they were more like princes or captains, local politicians in this day in age. So these politicians get together and they say “Listen, Daniel is a good guy, we need to find charges against him, but the only thing we will find, is something to do with that God he prays too. Let’s make that illegal, to pray to God” They go to King Darius and he is like “Weeeelllllll, no I do not agree with this, I like Daniel” The problem was the politicians were greedy and prideful, and like most kings Darius was also prideful, so he broke and made the law you can not worship God. Daniel was like okay cool, make that law, but I am still going to worship him. Try to stop me”. So he did his thing, every morning, every night he worshiped and prayed to his God. They found out about this, and they were not to happy. So, what any normal greedy politician would do, they threw him into a lions den. King Darius says to him “May your God whom you continue to serve, rescue you”.
The next morning the King went to the den and calls out to Daniel. As the story goes, Daniel was unharmed by the lions. He was unharmed because he did not do anything wrong in God’s eyes, God had protected Daniel. When the King realized God had saved Daniel, and it was the politicians fault for all of this, he threw them into the den, they, unfortunately did not have the same faith, or love for God as Daniel did, so they were lunch. Daniel was not a prideful man, he was a humble servant to God, and this story shows how true faith, and obedience really does save.
Pride is everywhere in this story, except in the heart of Daniel, the second most powerful leader in the land. He was full of humility, and he gives credit to him being saved to God, and God only. How can you be more like Daniel and less like the prideful satraps in this story?
Today’s challenge, get your pride in check. Pride can be a very dangerous thing, and it can draw others in, destroying everyone’s path around it. Those who are slaves to pride do anything to maintain the illusion that they are better than others. Pride prompts people to do horrible things to those the deem “less” than them. What is the cure to pride? Humility. So today, humble yourself before the Lord.
Day 7: Saul’s Conversion Acts 9: 1-31
Ah, Saul. Saul was not a very good man. Actually, at first, he was not a very good man at all. He persecuted the Jews, held them as prisoners and made murderous threats to anyone who worshiped God. But, as we all know, God chooses the ones we least expect to do his work. Saul was on his way to a town to persecute whoever was worshiping. On his way there God came to him, and shown a bright light. He asked Saul “Why do you persecute me?” Saul’s response “Who are you Lord?” God replies “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, now get up! and go into the city and you will be told what to do next?”
When Saul opened his eyes, he realized he had been blinded. God went to another individual in the town and told him of Saul’s predicament. The person was confused, because they knew of Saul, and what an evil man he was. God comforted this person and says “Go, he is my instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings, and to the people of Israel”. So the man goes and heals Saul, he filled Saul with the Holy Spirit.
Now this story isn’t so much on him having faith, and God testing said faith. It was about God filling him with faith. Using a man who had done terrible things against him, to spread his word. Throughout this story God tells people to “Get up”. I feel this is more of a metaphor. Meaning, arise from the dead of sin, and get up to worship me. They were spiritually asleep and he was telling them to wake up their faith. In what ways do you think “getting up” is a response of faith? What is really keeping you from getting up to do what the Lord is asking you to do?
Today’s challenge, think of someone in your life right now who needs to “get up” or be “spiritually awoken”. Someone who is lacking in the faith and the greatness of our Lord. Do not go beating on their door trying to force the bible down there throat though, no no no. Just, pray for them. Pray for them to be spiritually awoken, pray for maybe an opportunity to just talk to them. Pray for their healing, or troubles they are facing. Use your faith in the Lord, towards them.
When we take a minute to slow down, and see that God’s path for us may not always be what we want, it allows you to humble yourself before God. There are things in life that we will never truly understand, but He is much bigger than us, and it is our faith that gets us through those times. Just like in the stories above, it was their faith that got them through some of the hardest situations. So, when all else fails, today, tomorrow, and in the future, remember to stay faithful, and God will return the favor.
This concludes or 7 day Bible Challenge. We will continue these every so often to really take what the bible was saying then, and applying those things to our lives today. It is a great way to not only read the word of God, but serve the Lord..
As always, Happy Praying!