Christopher opened our day with a word about “perseverance” from the 30 Character Qualities and Psalm 119:46, “I will speak of your testimonies also before kings and will not be put to shame” (AMP). He said, “Perseverance is having faith even when times get tough.” This brought us to talk about what it looks like to continue to speak of the testimony of Jesus even when persecution may come because of our perseverance. Acts 5:25-32 set the stage for our conversation, “So they brought them and set them (the apostles) before the council (Sanhedrin). And the high priest examined them by questioning, saying, we definitely commanded and strictly charged you not to teach in or about this Name [they were trying to shame them so they would not speak anymore in His Name]; yet here you have flooded Jerusalem with your doctrine and you intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the apostles replied, we must obey God rather than men” (AMP). What a powerful word to begin our day with. Thank you, Christopher, for the bold word!
Aliyah led us through devotion on the word “forgiveness” from our 30 Character Qualities. She spoke to us about why we forgive (Matthew 6:14, Ephesians 4:32). She talked to us about conditions of forgiveness like repentance (see Luke 17:3-4). She gave us examples of forgiveness like Jesus in Luke 23:34 and Stephen in Acts 7:60. She also shared some interesting things like Romans 12:20, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in doing so you will be heaping fiery coals on his head” (HCSB). She noted that this was interesting because it revealed a different purpose then the other examples in that the purpose of forgiveness was to bring our enemy to repentance through kindness. She also talked about some questions she had in regard to First John 1:9 and Deuteronomy 31:6. This was a Scripture packed devotion. Thank you, Aliyah. You have given us some deep thoughts to think about.
Week 2, Semester 2, Ellie graciously led us through devotion on the word “attentiveness” from our 30 Character Qualities. She defined attentiveness as the action of paying close attention to something. Then, she led us to compare “orderliness” our word from last week (which came up quite a lot today) with our word from today “attentiveness.” When talking about circumstances surrounding these two words, Ellie asked the question, “When are you most attentive?” Some answered, “When authority is speaking, when something is interesting, when we enjoy something, when playing video games, when someone is preaching the Word of God.” To conclude, Ellie led us to talk about Nehemiah 1:6,11 which says, “…please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You, day and night, on behalf of Your servants, the [a]sons (descendants) of Israel (Jacob), confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned… We prayed that God would open our eyes to hear from Him and He answered our prayer all day long by making us attentive to his revelation in our Challenge B studies.
Alejandro modeled correctly dividing the truth as he presented the devotion Semester 2, Week 8, “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Our “self” produces desires we should not satisfy but instead “control.” We should “deny ourselves” and “take up our cross daily,” Jesus says, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Matthew 5:29 says that “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it from you.” This is the fierceness of self-control. Self-control is saying “no!” to sinful desires, even when it hurts. You shouldn’t “just” say “no!” You should say “no” in a certain way: By saying “no” in faith, in the power of Christ. Self-control is a gift. It is the fruit of the Spirit. How do we strive for self-control? Paul said, “I labor, striving according to the His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29). When we really see that God is for us by grace through Jesus Christ, the power of wrong desires is broken. Therefore, the fight for self-control is a fight of faith. “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of eternal life to which you were called” (First Timothy 6:12).
Emma brought many sweet devotions to our Challenge B table this year. One that comes to mind was in Second Semester, Week 10, when she talked about the word “Enthusiasm” from the 30 Character Qualities and Romans 12:11, “Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion but use your energy to serve the LORD” (God’s Word Translation). She taught us that the word “Enthusiasm comes from the Greek words “en” and “theos” meaning “full of God” and that “Enthusiasm doesn’t just mean be excited about something but it means to be completely engrossed in it.” Mark 12:30 states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In sharing this verse, Emma said, “God doesn’t want us to be merely excited about Him, He wants us to be engaged all the time.” She concluded, “Being enthusiastic isn’t always easy
(Galatians 6:9). We are called to be enthusiastic for God because not only will it help us to be better Christians, it will point others to Christ.”
We opened up the day by talking about “Faith” from the 30 Character Qualities and Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). We defined faith, compared it to believe (such as believing some things can lead to doubt instead of faith), talked about the relationship between faith and believe and also some of the circumstances surrounding these two words such as James 2:18-19. Aliyah’s devotion testified to these truths in Scripture.
Life would be almost impossible without faith. The biblical definition of faith, which comes from Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This means being sure of what you hope for, and being convinced of what you have not seen. Also in the song “That’s what Faith must be” by Michael Card, faith is expressed as “hearing with your heart, seeing with your soul, being guided by a hand you cannot hold, and trusting in a way you cannot see.” Many times throughout the Bible, faith is expressed by God’s people. Some examples of faith are Joseph, when he faced many trials and knew that God would still be faithful. Abraham, when he was asked to sacrifice his only son though he was promised a great nation. And the story of the fiery furnace where God showed how he can deliver even when it seems life is over. Luke 17:6, Matthew 17:20, and Matthew 21:21 say “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move a mountain.”. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says “We live by faith, and not by sight.”. Faith is an important component in everyday life. It’s an important not only to believe that Christ died on the cross to pay our penalty or that he resurrected, but that we rely on His death as payment for our sins. Faith is believing what the Bible says and obeying it. Hebrews 11:6 says ” Without faith it is impossible to please God.”.
Clip from Challenge B, Week 3, Semester 1: We had an awesome day and it all began with Jacob sharing a few words with us about virtue (moral excellence) from the 30 Character Qualities and First Corinthians 6:19-20, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirt, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (NLT). Jacob gave some great insights specifically ones that pointed us to the impact that sin and righteousness has on the body. Sin destroys, righteousness brings life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 HCSB). Thank you Jacob!