1 Samuel 17.4-11
4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.
9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
The Power of a Challenge
Great leaders throughout time have motivated men through the use of challenges. JFK, in his Presidential acceptance speech, challenged all of America with these words:
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Motivational speakers know the power of challenging their audiences to move forward in career and personal endeavors. It is time that we learn the power of a challenge.
We hear speakers talk about goal setting. It is easy to think lofty in these times to set grandiose goals for ourselves. Naturally, the first and foremost goal is to make Heaven our home. However, while this is the ultimate goal of every Child of God, it is broad and largely unchallenging. To be a challenge, a goal must be measurable and closely attainable. There is nothing wrong with setting this as our far reaching goal, but we need goals closer to home in order to challenge us.
For example; a person with the before mentioned goal, may plan that they will repent and get right with God when they are close to death. It is attainable still, but requires nothing of them on a daily basis. It is unrealistic, in that, none of us know exactly when the time of our death will arrive. Our goals, in order to challenge us, must be closer at hand. We must set a goal that we can measure and obtain.
For example: my goal for this week is to fast three meals and to pray three hours.
This is obtainable and measureable. At the end of the chosen seven day period, we have either fasted three meals and prayed three hours or we have not.
The goal must have a method to obtain that is based in reality. I can set a goal to have a million dollars in thirty years. This is measureable. It is long term, but will involve daily strategies and sacrifices. I can see if I am on track or not. I can adjust accordingly. However, to set a goal like this and do nothing, expecting that the money will merely appear at some point, is unrealistic. Wouldn’t you agree?
To say, my goal is to make Heaven my home and then sit and do nothing is just as unrealistic.
A challenge will either devastate or motivate you.
Goliath challenged the Children of Israel and such was the power of that challenge that they were dismayed and greatly afraid. The word interpreted ‘dismayed’ is ‘chathath’ which means ‘to prostrate or break down.’
For 40 days, every morning and every evening, Goliath stepped out on the field of battle and issued his challenge. No battle was enjoined. No combat had occurred. No physical contact was made. No arrow was let fly. No spear had been thrown. The Children of Israel were stopped by the power of Goliath’s challenge.
Every morning and every evening, as the challenge went unanswered, it grew in strength. It gained in power.
You must answer the challenges that come to you quickly or they will overcome you.
Every day that you allow yourself to be buffeted by the forces of Satan, they will grow in power over you. Every day that you allow the challenge to be unanswered, it get stronger in its ability to constrain you or break you down. You may not defeat it on the first day, but you must not allow it to come and go unanswered. The Red Sea would have appeared to grow wider and wider as the Children of Israel looked across it. Every day, doubt and fear would have pushed the opposing shoreline further and further away. The walls of Jericho would have grown taller and stronger in the estimation of the children of Israel had they not daily went out and answered the challenge.
Here, in the valley of Elah, Saul’s army had allowed the defiant Philistines to break them down and fill them with fear.
1 Peter 2.9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Let’s look at Basic English. ‘Can’ speaks about ability. ‘May’ speaks about permission. This scripture is not talking about Satan having the ability to devour us. It is talking about whom the devil has the permission to devour. I have spoke of this in several Bible studies. Too many Christians are fooled by Satan into thinking he sets the rules for engagement. He does not. When he desired to go after Job, he was only allowed to go so far. Who set those terms? God did. God still sets the terms for this battle. Satan does not have Gods permission to destroy you. The problem is that we give Satan permission. We allow him to buffet us. We allow him to brow beat us. We allow him to challenge us unanswered. If WE allow it, he will destroy us.
Years before and far from the battlefield, a young lad was tending his father’s sheep. A lion roared against him, and he slew it. A bear came after the sheep. He protected the sheep and slew the bear. Challenges came and he answered them. He faced the challenges as they came. I cannot tell you the David was without fear, because the Word does not say that. However, I can assure you, by the authority of god’s Word that he was not stopped by any fear he may have had, and he was not stopped by the challenges he faced in tending the sheep.
Jesse, his father, sent David to take food and drink to his brothers on the hill in the battle that was not. When David arrived, the Philistine issued his challenge. David, probably, waited for someone to answer the challenge. When no one stepped forth, David asked the question “Is there not a cause?”
David was not stopped by fear, nor was he dismayed by the words of the Philistine. David was challenged by the challenge. His heart was set afire. His spirit was inflamed. His courage and determination were kindled. Something must be done.
“Is there not a cause?”
As a child, few things are harder to resist than a challenge. Who among us are not familiar with the words, “I dare you,” or better yet, the words, “I double dog dare you”?
How many countless times has a mother had to bandage the end results of some ludicrous dare? How many times has a doctor had to set the bones of some double dare? Such is the power of a challenge to push us to do more than we would ordinarily do. It will push us to do something we normally consider beyond our ken.
Competitors are motivated by a challenge:
· to win,
· to be the best,
· to exercise to the limit and beyond,
· to run faster
· to jump higher
· to go farther
Children must be challenged to learn. I have seen, in homes where education is a low priority, children do not do as well in school. Children learn best when there is a challenge to learn.
In work or careers
We seek things that will challenge us. Without it, we quickly lose interest and work quality suffers. In factories, tack times are set to give the works an acceptable timeframe for a task, and to give them a goal to beat. Without a goal, we become slow and lazy.
In sports, education, and work, without a challenge, there is no excitement.
We must never become complacent in our walk with God. We must never be at ease. We must always have a challenge in our lives. Challenges motivate.
God’s people have always been people of challenge.
· Moses was challenged by the situation in Egypt even before God called to him from the burning bush in the desert.
· Abraham was challenged by the Lord to move out in faith to as land that He would show unto him.
· Joshua was challenged by the walls of Jericho.
· Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were challenged by the great image and the king’s decree.
· Esther was challenged by the plight of the Jews and the rules of the king’s court.
· All throughout the Word of God, man and woman have been challenged.
I am quite sure that there were those who did not rise to the occasion. I am sure there were those that ran from the challenge. Saul was challenged. Judas was challenged. Demas was challenged. Goliath challenged the whole of the armies of Israel.
There is a story of a shoe company that sent two of its best salesmen to Africa. The salesmen arrived and began going throughout the area. The following day, one salesman sent the company this message:
“Bring me home. No-one here wears shoes.”
The second salesman sent the company a message as well. His message read:
“Send me all the shoes you have. Everyone one here needs shoes.”
Did the salesmen arrive in different places? No. Did they see different people? No.
In the same place, seeing the same people, one salesman was devastated and the other was motivated.
What will your challenges do to you today?
The disciples were challenged. We are challenged today.
What challenged the disciples?
When we look at the lives of men like Peter and Paul, we cannot help but wonder if they knew they were establishing guidelines by their lives. NO. I think they were just living their lives and doing everything they could to be saved and to meet the challenges presented before them.
· They were challenged by the Words of Jesus.
· They were challenged by the task before them.
· They were challenged by the opposition against them.
Have we lost our challenge?
Does our work for the Lord mean as much today as it did in the past?
Have we become slow and lazy in our work for the Lord?
Today is almost over. What we can do for the Lord today is almost done. Tomorrow, like a fresh blanket of snow, looms before us. It is a challenge to every one of us. Here is the wonderful thing about the challenge of tomorrow. It does not consider the failures of yesterday. The challenge before us does not care if this is your first time to answer the call. It does not consider if you have failed in the past. This challenge beckons us. It calls to us. We will lay aside the successes or failures of yesterday and move forward with the challenge.
The challenges or demands of the Word of God:
We are collectively and individually to be led by the Word of God. Just as David was challenged by the Word of God (hid in my heart) we are to be challenged by it. The Word of God demands certain things of believers, but not without giving us the power to overcome.
Many people throughout time have sought to do away with these Words, but in spite of all their efforts, it still stands. It still issues forth a challenge to all the ages. It challenges us to live holy and circumspectly in an evil and idolatrous world. It dares, no; double dog dares us, to live holy before the Lord, to live according to the dictates of His salvation.
His Word empowers us, encourages us, enables us, and excites us with its challenges. Just as the disciples before us, we must also meet the demands of the Word.
The demands of the task before us:
What is the task of the Church?
I am not speaking of the task of the individual. Our individual task is to live for the Lord. We are to live holy. We are to live rightly. We are to prepare ourselves for the world top come. While we are intricately involved in the task of the church, it is not our individual task. The task of the church is the task of the entire body of Christ.
While my toes are involved in the task of walking, my toes cannot complete that task on their own. Without my toes doing their part, walking is difficult to impossible, but it is still not the sole task of the toes to move us from one place to another.
What is the task of the church?
Jesus was speaking to His Church when he issued this challenge:
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
It is our task to reach the lost.
Look at the challenge. At first glance it seems it could be impossible. All the world … every creature
I worked construction as an electrician for thirty years. The job of building is broken down into sections. There is one building, built by several crafts, working together. The task of building is broken down into more manageable tasks. These sections are further broken down into different systems. These systems are broken down into several parts as well. Everyone doing their part, fitly joining together will build a building.
You .. save your house .. save your street .. save your workplace .. reach your family .. wrest your friends from Satan’s grip ..
Carry your corner.
We can win the world, one soul at a time.
The demands of the opposition against us:
He is formidable but he is not unconquerable.
We need to see the bruised heel crushing the head of the serpent. From the garden, this pronouncement of judgment has been his destiny. For all his roar, for all his ferocity, he is a defeated foe.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
The two worst things you can do in a battle are to overestimate the power of your enemy and to underestimate the power of your enemy. Do not take him lightly, but do not give him more power than he has either. Jesus is ever able, ever desiring to give us the victory.
We are challenged by the power of the opposition as David was.
What has changed?
Has the Word changed?
Has the task changed?
Has the opposition changed?
Have we changed?
We must renew our challenges daily. We must refuse to be satisfied with mediocrity. We must resolve, not today only, but every day, to keep the anointing fresh, to allow the Word, the work, and the enemy, to challenge us.
It is hard to resist a challenge. Today, in the face of all eternity, we are challenged .. to win .. to work .. to live ..
One must face a challenge before one can become a conqueror.
Only challenges produce champions.