FOCUS - Challenges in Life

On Sundays before I go to my church, I watch Touching Lives with Pastor James Merritt.  He always preaches sermons that are direct and teaches us how to move through our lives with God as our guide.  This past Sunday he talked about challenges and used the story of David and Goliath based on 1 Samuel 17:26. The Philistine troops were fighting to take over the army of Israel. A giant named Goliath who was over 9’ tall stepped out and challenged someone to fight him to the death.  He said that the king will give the person who can kill Goliath fame, fortune, the king’s daughter and his whole family will not have to pay taxes.  Goliath knew he would be the winner because of his strength, his armor and his size.  No one could kill Goliath. He would win the war for his army.

However, there was a young lad named David who was a shepherd in the field.  His father sent him to help his brothers.  He came to the area where Goliath made his offer and asked who was brave enough to fight him. No one came forward from the Israel army.  No one felt they could take down the giant. David had fought lions and bears when they attacked his sheep.  He had always been strong knowing that God was with him.  David told Saul that he would fight the giant and kill him.  Saul gave David armor which was too heavy. David said he did not need the armor that the Lord would save him. So, David took his weapons, a sling shot and a large stone, into battle with the giant. No one believed David could kill Goliath.  This was a huge challenge for David but he picked up his stone, put it into the slingshot and ran toward Goliath.  He aimed and the stone hit Goliath right in the temple.  Goliath fell to the ground dead.  David won the battle.  David said that there is a God in Israel who will put your lives in God’s hands.

This story is about a challenge where there does not seem to be any doubt who will win.  This story is about courage, faith, and the love of a God who will stand by your side when you do the right thing. 

Pastor Merritt used three points to show how we can face our challenges and win.

Focus on God’s presence.  Don’t focus on your challenge or your fear to face your challenge.  Have faith that God will be with you as you conquer your challenge.

Be fearless in God’s power.  When we worry, we maximize the challenge and minimize God’s power.

Be fervent for God’s Praise.  The battle is the Lord’s.

God gives us hindsight, insight and foresight to face our challenges.  Here are a few facts about David.   David was from Bethlehem.  This is where Jesus was born.  David was a shepherd.  Jesus was a shepherd.  One thousand years before Jesus was born, David, the shepherd boy, killed the giant Goliath. A thousand years later, Jesus picked up the cross and died to save us.  David returned to dust after he died.  Christ died and rose again.  We have a God who is with us, for us and is bigger than any giant and his name is Jesus.  I had never thought of this comparison of David and Jesus;  David was chosen to be a leader for God’s people.  He had courage to listen to God’s call.  Put yourself in David’s place and ask yourself if you would have had the courage as a lad of about 15 years of age to make this huge decision based on your faith in God? 

We all have challenges that test us.  The most important thing to do when facing our challenges is to ask God to give us the courage, the faith, the love and the insight to make the right decisions when we deal with challenges.  We never have to face our challenges alone.  God is there to help us.  All we need to do is to ask for his help.

This story is about facing a challenge.   Here is the meaning of the word challenge. A challenge is to demand a contest with; to call into question; dispute; to object to; to demand;  to claim that (a person) is not qualified to vote or the vote is invalid.  To make a challenge is an invitation to participate in a contest. Challenges can be threatening, power plays and can be used as control.  In today’s world we face many challenges and must understand how we should deal with the challenges we face.  If we put our faith in God and ask for his direction, we can make the right decisions.  We never have to face our challenges alone. 

Here are four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively, pursue persistently.     – William Arthur Ward

I leave you with this quote of the week from our church bulletin.  I know God has a plan.  I pray for direction to follow it, patience to wait on it, and knowledge to know when it comes.

Chapel Hill United Methodist Church will present the “Living Last Supper” at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow evening.  Dianne Williams is the director.  Come and listen to the disciples tell who they are and why they followed Jesus.  Each of these disciples faced challenges because they followed Jesus. Jesus called each disciple to follow him and to do good for others. They knew Jesus was special.  Each disciple shares his story of Jesus and asks the question “Was it I who betrayed Jesus?”  The men who have put this presentation together invite you and your family to join them as they tell the disciples’ stories of Jesus.


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