Faith Challenge

Acts 11:27-30

27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.


A politician organized a basketball tournament so that his son would play basketball.

He bought a basketball uniform for his son and included him in a basketball team. The son was so glad because it was his first time to play an organized basketball game. The son knew how to run, jump, dribble, or shoot the basketball but he never played in an organized basketball tournament.

He had four attempts at the free throw live and all four attempts missed the ring. As much as the son thought he knew how to play the basic basketball fundamentals, he failed to contribute for his team. He was not prepared for such a high level basketball game.

In Christianity, head knowledge about basic Christian doctrines or belief is not enough. God allows difficulties to take place in our life to reveal to us our spiritual temperature.

If your faith is tested, would you be found to have genuine faith in God or just a pretender?

Problems in life, like famine, are avenues for us to examine if we truly believe in God. God allowed famine throughout the Roman world and the disciples responded accordingly.

1.  Problem

27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 

Agabus was a Christian prophet who had been occasionally used by God to warn believers. He predicted a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman Empire; it really happened. Through the Holy Spirit, he warned the disciples in Antioch of the imminent problem.

Before that, Barnabas came to encourage the disciples in Antioch to remain true to the Lord. As to why he was sent to encourage them was not clearly known before the famine.

Barnabas and Saul taught the church for a year before God allowed the problem of a severe famine to test the faith of the disciples. Severe famine has been God’s instrument to challenge the faith of His people. Abraham, the father of faith was also tested with famine; Isaac experienced famine. Because of famine, Joseph’s brother went to Egypt and bowed down to him.

Before Christian era, God used famine to separate genuine believers from pretenders. The first century Christians were not exempted; God allowed a severe famine to happen.

Have you ever experienced the fang of famine in your life, yet?

In Romans 8:35 Paul reminds us…

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

We may not experience famine but God allows problems in life to test our faith in Him. Scarcity of food supply may not be much of a problem in North America but many people even Christians are afraid; they are scared of being left behind in lifestyle or current trend.

God uses struggles not just famine to strengthen one’s faith and to separate the genuine disciple from the pretenders. God puts us in a perfect testing situation; have we grown in our faith or remained stagnant?

In Job 1:6-12 we can learn and assess ourselves if we faith like Job.

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

The law of cause and effect easily comes to mind when someone has struggles in life. Most people consider sin and wickedness as the cause, the reason why someone is suffering.

God has praised the exceptional faith of Job; and as usual, Satan did not agree with God. Satan asked permission from God to test Job if he has a genuine faith in God. Because of that, Job experienced the worst testing of faith: Job’s children were killed; he lost all his property-everything he had including his health yet he did not waver.

Can you imagine yourself in the situation of Job? Would you give in or would you stay strong in your faith when the worst problem happens?

Think about that for a while; can you imagine: you lost your love ones, you lost everything, you are left alone sitting on the ground with sore all over your body. Would you keep on believing in God or you will be shaken in your faith?

If you admit that you find some kind of shaking in your faith, pray and ask God to strengthen your faith until you can be sure you have grown strong like Job’s faithfulness.

We understand that prophets predict what would happen in the near or far future. The prophets of God would usually go where God leads them; some went to Antioch. The Holy Spirit spoke through Agabus about the severe famine that was about to happen. Instead of being shaken in their faith the disciples responded according to their convictions.

2.  Provision

29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

God presented the problem to the Christians in Antioch and they opted to extend help. They entrusted to Barnabas and Saul the gift they sent to the elders of the church in Judea.

Why did the church in Antioch send their gift to the church elders in Judea and not to the Israelite leaders who may be in-charge of famine donation centres? Why not each disciple just supported a poor child like what many Christians are doing today?

Our passage teaches us that it is God’s will to support a struggling church.

Famine was experienced throughout the entire Roman world during Emperor Claudius’ reign. The Christians in Antioch experience that famine, too, yet instead of complaining about their problem, they sent gifts to the lesser privileged believers living in Judea. The disciples gave their gift as each one was able to give; it was not obligatory. They gave according to what their heart dictated them to give.

Giving has been a practical expression of faith in God exemplified by Christians in Antioch. What do you have that you can give as your contribution to the Lord’s work?

God Provides

In Genesis 22:1-8, Abraham’s faith was tested not by famine but sacrificing his son.

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

Abraham heard God’s command very clearly and that was enough for him obey. Abraham had experienced that God can do the impossible like giving him son in his old age. He believed that God’s command is meant for his betterment. He did not understand everything in God’s design for his life but he put his faith in God.

In Genesis 13, Abraham allowed Lot to choose the best of the land; it was a manifestation that Abraham has graduated from the testing of material thing. God wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; Isaac was the most precious possession of Abraham. Abraham passed that very tough faith testing; he knew God will surely provide for him.

Check your faith: What if God asks you to give Him your most precious possession?

><((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2021 <‘)))>< … <‘))><


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