PART 21 – TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH (30/1/19)
‘In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’ (Ephesians 6:16)
During this week’s devotionals, we are considering how David fell into sin with Bathsheba, and how we can protect ourselves. Each day we are looking at a different piece of the ‘Armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-20), which is God’s power and wisdom on how to overcome temptation and evil. Today we continue with the ’Shield of faith’.
Just imagine being in a battle and seeing a hailstorm of flaming arrows being fired into the air in your direction. It’s good that you’ve got armour on, but it’s also vital to have a shield. The enemy is not passive. He attacks what each piece of this armour stands for. He assaults us with His ‘flaming arrows’ and the ‘shield of faith’ acts as additional defence.
However, the most dangerous flaming arrows are those that we are not prepared for. David failed to take precautions against the fiery darts that night when we saw Bathsheba bathing. The devil may have said something like this to him, “What harm can it do to invite her over? You’re the king, you're on holiday, you deserve this. God won’t mind, you’re highly favoured…” David failed to parry these lies by faith in God.
Fiery darts come in many forms. The armour shows us the major forms that these fiery arrows take:
Assault on ‘Truth’ - “It doesn’t matter what you believe, broad is good, narrow is evil.”
Attack on ‘Righteousness’ - “It doesn’t matter how you live, God overlooks sin.” or “You’re failing, you’ve not been perfect so God hates you”.
A blow to the ‘Gospel’ - “God cannot save you.” Or “ God doesn’t only save through the gospel.” Or “It’s not important that you share the gospel with non-believers, other can do that”. Or “You should not forgive that person, they don’t deserve it”.
A strike against ‘Salvation’ - “No-one can know if they are saved, that would be arrogant.” or “you can’t be saved, you don’t feel saved”.
A shattering of the ‘Sword’ - “You don’t need to learn to skilfully use God’s word” Or “Surely the Bible is not God’s truth.”
The pacifying of ‘Prayer’ - “It’s a good thing to pray but It’s not vital - God will do His thing anyway.” Or, “I’m sure that you’re not good enough for God to hear your prayers.”
Stand firm by taking up the shield of faith
You are under attack. The church is under attack. The fiery darts are hitting their mark as the church fails to take up the shield of faith. Too often the church looks at the culture in which she finds herself and adjusts her faith accordingly. This is done under the banner of love and making Jesus more appealing to people outside of the church. However, in reality, all such churches and Christians are doing is being set alight by flaming arrows and collapse in ashes. A Church that does not have true faith is worthless.
RESPONSE - TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Each response this week will be around putting on each part of the armour of God.
Are you lifting the shield of faith? How is your faith in God at the moment? How are you growing in faith through reading scripture and good books? Take a moment to pray and express your trust in God. Perhaps you might find it helpful in lifting the shield to meditate and pray from this text from Peter.
‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…’ (1 Peter 5:7-8)
2. PUT ON THE ARMOUR BY MEMORISING THE TRUTH
Let’s lift up the shield of faith by making a commitment to memorise the armour of God this week.
‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ (Ephesians 6:14-17)
3. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES
The ‘shield of faith’ will extinguish the flaming arrows of temptation. We are all assault by these arrows and it's important to share the load with others. A good way to lift the shield of faith is with the support of friends and loved ones.
A couple of specific questions for you:
1. If you are married - Have you ever spoken to your spouse about struggles that you have with temptation? Will you make some time to talk this week and answer this question: Where, if at all, are you being unfaithful in action or thinking, or being tempted to do so?
2. If you are single - Will you make some time to talk to a friend (of the same sex) and answer the following question: Where, if at all, are you being sexually impure in action, thinking or feeling tempted to do so?
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use
Include the reference throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time