Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Finding Thanksgiving: The Faith-Shield Fiery-Arrow Extinguisher

We're continuing this too-short (four days)  thanksgiving blog series that started with gratitude for FORGIVENESS. Yesterday, the blog topic was gratitude for our FUTURE in Christ. 

Today, we're talking about gratitude for FAITH. On Sunday, JJ Jasper was our guest preacher, speaking on the topic of Faith. It was exactly what I needed to hear. (I recommend you follow the link and listen to the sermon when you have time, but finishing reading today's blog first. Smile.)

If you don't believe spiritual warfare is real, try coordinating a new kind of prayer ministry. You'll find out quickly that the enemy is alive, well, and rampaging through the world at a rapid pace. There are days when it takes every bit of faith I have to get through what I believe God has called me to do. I love this work, but it's hard.

Lately, I've been praying, "Lord, increase my faith," and reviewing passages on both faith and spiritual warfare. Naturally, Ephesians 6 comes to mind. I love the part about the shield of faith.

"In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one." Ephesians 6:16 nasb

Ponder this a minute and let the word picture fill your mind. It's a battle. We're dressed in our "armor" and the enemy is giving us his best shot. He shoots us with "flaming missiles" or "fiery darts". He's not shooting cannon balls. He's not shooting nuclear bombs. His attacks are nothing more than arrows that have been set on fire. 

Admittedly, flaming arrows hurt if they hit us, and they can cause damage. A bad burn is painful, and may take a while to heal.

If all our life-works are nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble, we'll be in trouble when those fiery darts come our way. If we're building a life of substance, with works of gold and silver, however, it will take more than a fiery dart to destroy us.

Ephesians tells us we have a shield of faith that's like a fire extinguisher for flaming devil-arrows. We hold up the shield. The arrows hit faith and fall to the ground. When a flaming arrow hits the ground, it burns out completely. If it hits the faith shield, it's extinguished. Done. It doesn't even get the chance to burn out.

The bigger the faith, the larger the shield. and the easier it is to quickly extinguish the enemy's attack. 

How, then, do we gain bigger faith? We exercise the little faith we have. It's like the mustard seed that's tiny but, when planted, grows a tree that's huge.

My faith-growing experience started by praying specific prayers. As those specific prayers were answered, I dared to pray bigger ones. Gradually, one answered prayer at a time, God taught me that He is faithful. That He hears and answers prayers. That He has no limits, either of time, or space, or ability. He can do anything. And He often will. 

As I dared to pray bigger, I also dared to dream bigger God-dreams. When God began to make those dreams a reality, I dreamed even bigger ones.

I've seen miracles many times. I have a little idea of just how much our God can do, just how much He is willing to do. Yet, when fiery arrows come my way, trailing smoke behind them, I'm still concerned by their approach.

It's faith that allowed me to leave a comfortable income to become a missionary. 

It's faith that allows me to write every day with the confidence that someone, somewhere will read what I've written. 

It's faith that allows me to ask God for miracles every day on behalf of the missionaries and myself. 

It's faith that says, "Your will is best, so that's what I want, Lord." 

It's faith that allows me to wait for His answer instead of trying to orchestrate my own.

The fact we often forget is that all believers begin their life in Christ with a shield of faith. Faith is how we believed on Jesus in the first place. Even that fledgling faith-shield is sufficient to extinguish the enemy's fiery arrows, if we are willing to hold it up

What, we may ask, is "holding up our shield"? 

When we know what we've believed and we cling to it, we're holding up our shield. 

When we repeat the Scripture we've memorized and cling to it when we're afraid, anxious, or unsure, we're holding up our shield. 

When we claim the promises of God in regard to our needs, we're holding up our shield.

In the garden, the enemy twisted the words of God and tricked Eve. If we don't want a similar deception, we must know what God has said with certainty. If we're not sure, we need to study. That's another way of holding up the shield. 

Today, I'm grateful for the faith that brought me to Jesus. The tiny faith that said, "save me, Lord, has grown over the years, but it's that same saving-faith that will, one day, carry me home to meet my Jesus face-to-face. 

In the meantime, faith is the shield that works as an extinguisher of all the flaming arrows the enemy throws my way.

Today, join me in praying that God will help us to exercise our faith and increase our shield so that the enemy's arrows fall, harmless, to the ground. 
If you've been blessed by this digital ministry, prayerfully consider supporting  this outreach. Here's the link for online donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Finding Thanksgiving: The Future Hope 
p.s. - the picture is of the empty tomb. It's the basis of all my faith.