In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:16 ESV)
Recently I heard a teaching about the whole armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6, the main point Paul the Apostle is trying to get across is that Spiritual warfare is a very real battle. The enemy wants to destroy us and the lengths he will go to are at times limitless, he has the ability to completely destroy men, to make their names and their character meaningless with a few choice temptations, thoughts, fears and snares. So with that Paul states we need to be ready for battle, and he continues on in the chapter to describe 6 pieces of spiritual armor that we need to be geared up with at all times. As Christians these are essential to our walk with the Lord. As I began to meditate and think on these things, having heard this portion taught countless times, one piece of the armor stuck out to me in a very real way, almost as if God was telling me personally “Hey you better make sure this piece of equipment is battle ready”. I thought more on it and soon came to a revelation from the Lord as to why this piece is going to be so vital for myself and all of us as Christians moving forward with the Lord, the ones who desire to be used in ministry, those of us who are about to do to battle for the Lord. The shield of faith, what does Paul mean when he says take up the shield of faith? How can faith be a shield? Number one reason would be our faith in the Lord for our salvation, that he has overcome the world (John16:33) and we will soon be with him for eternity. Secondly Faith in Gods promises, you know the promises we like to hold onto when we’re having a bad day, Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 3:16, Philippians 4:6-7. Just to name a few off, all these promise we can hold on too, we can have faith that these things spoken to us by the Lord will come to pass and will give us peace in times of struggle. Faith in these things is a shield for us, the stronger our faith, the stronger are shield, and this shield is able to quench all the fiery darts, and attacks inflicted by the enemy.
But let’s consider another promise from the Lord, the promise of “Suffering” “Tribulation” “Rejection” all the things Jesus dealt with, right? In the book of Acts God promises Paul that he will suffer (For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:16 NKJV). And even more personally for us as I already mentioned (These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV). The lord showed me that if I have faith in the promise of suffering for him then my shield will be stronger than ever. The enemy loves to discourage us, make us think God doesn’t love us, or he’s not near, or he’s forgotten us, or we’re worthless because we’re going through a trial when we should be victorious. The fiery dart of discouragement often times comes in times of suffering, and it’s at these times that we allow the enemy to hold us down and just have a hay day with beating the heck out of us. All the while God is near, he’s working, victory is right around the corner, but since we’re not prepared for such hardships we become as my pastor stated like “Spiritual Eeyores” when that ought to not be the case at all.
James states in his epistle to count it all joy when we fall into trials, why? Because God is building us up by working out our faith (My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 NKJV). Have faith in all of Gods promises, don’t be surprised when you pursue a life of being like Jesus that you might be treated just like he was is basically what James is saying, hold onto Jesus especially in the times of trial and suffering, persevere, rejoice, why? Because you were given the opportunity to share in Jesus’ pain, (So thevy departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:41 NKJV).
Recently on a Sunday morning my pastor gave a study on Luke 9:57-62 “Choose to follow Jesus”, one thing that stuck out to me was he said, “Don’t do Gods work only until it gets hard”. Endure, press on, be geared up, have faith in Gods promises and nothing will surprise you. Here is a piece of my notes from that study id like to share.
- Follow Jesus through discomfort (Vs. 57-58). Lord I will follow you wherever you go said the first man, the idea was he was linking himself up to Jesus, moved by Jesus’ words, receives what he says. His hearts desire is to follow him. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58 NKJV). (Matthew 8:19) he was a scribe, well versed in the word, high officials, advisors, position of prominence. They loved wealth, and honor, the best of the best. Jesus is letting the scribe know what the cost is to follow him, making him understand what he’s signing up for. Jesus says when you’re with me, this lifestyle will be completely different from what you are used too, there will be rejection, and you will need humility, you will experience difficulty, it will be uncomfortable and you will suffer. Don’t have a shallow heart, dont do Gods work only until it gets hard, are you able to endure doing the will of God, even when it gets hard. When am I required by the lord to endure hardship, suffering for the lord should be a regular occurrence . Have I been uncomfortable lately from simply following Jesus? Have people come against me or rejected me lately? Jesus should be regularly pulling me out of my comfort zone. -Jake Ephesians 3:20-21