Friday, January 15, 2016
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Ephesians 6:16 (NLT)
There is a lot of teaching around about what constitutes genuine faith. And, if Paul’s analogy of a shield holds up, that’s the way it should be. We all have faith. You and I are exercising a form of faith right now. We are sitting or standing, perhaps reclining in our chairs or at a desk somewhere; we believe they will support us. The point is never whether we will use faith – it is generally to what or whom we will direct that faith.
A man bought a new hunting dog. Eager to see how he would perform, he took him out to track a bear. No sooner had they gotten into the woods than the dog picked up the trail. Suddenly he stopped, sniffed the ground, and headed in a new direction. He had caught the scent of a deer that had crossed the bear's path. A few moments later he halted again, this time smelling a rabbit that had crossed the path of the deer. And so, on and on it went until finally the breathless hunter caught up with his dog, only to find him barking triumphantly down the hole of a field mouse.
Sometimes we as Christians are like that. We start out with high resolve, keeping Christ first in our lives. But soon our attention is diverted to things of lesser importance. One pursuit leads to another until we've strayed far from our original purpose.
At times it is a lack of faith in God’s Word.
In his book Rebuilding Your Broken World, Gordon MacDonald shared an event from his life which illustrates just how far resisting faith will take you:
A few years ago – a friend asked a strange question. If Satan were to blow you out of the water, how do you think he would do it? I'm not sure I know, I answered, but I know there's one way he wouldn't get me – He'd never get me in the area of my personal relationships. That's one place where I have no doubt that I'm as strong as you can get.
A few years after that conversation – a chain of seemingly innocent choices became destructive, and it was my fault. Choice by choice by choice, each easier to make, each becoming gradually darker. And then my world broke – in the very area I had predicted I was safe. Oswald Chambers comments on the tendency of men and women to lose major personal battles not at the points of their weaknesses but, strangely enough, at the points of their perceived strengths. He wrote, The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness.
Funny! During my earlier years I'd thought we were most vulnerable at our weakest points – until I realized from personal experience that where we perceive ourselves to be the strongest is where we're least likely to be prepared for a battle that isn't psychological or emotional. It's spiritual!
How do you appropriate the shield of faith? Ask God – and then act as if you believe He is listening.
When Alexander the great sailed to conquer Persia, his ships landed at night. As the troops gathered on the cliffs overlooking the harbor they were amazed to look back and see the torrid blaze of the entire fleet. They learned that Alexander himself had ordered the ships burned. He wanted his men to know that the only direction was ahead.
Retreat was out of the question.
Satan will tell you there’s a way out – a more conservative approach. But not if you want a shield of faith that works!
The Bible Illustrator, (Hiawatha Ia, Parson’s Technology) Idx 3763-3765
Rebuilding Your Broken World, by Gordon MacDonald