Read His Words Before Ours!
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
2 Chronicles 20:13-23
Huddled in an arena, a group of prisoners wait. Sand and dirt under their feet, sun beating down, hearts pounding in their chests as they anxiously await the gates to open. They will fight valiantly, but most will not leave the colosseum alive. The crowds have come expecting entertainment from watching prisoners fight a battle they simply cannot win.
One man, Maximus, changes the game.
He calls out, “No matter what comes out of these gates, if we stand together, we will survive.” As the iron bars rise, and chariots race towards them, instead of scattering in fear, the men come together, lock shields, and accomplish the unthinkable…
gain the upper hand.
As arrows fly, metal spikes catch on shields, and swords clash, the men continue to fight with and FOR each other. TOGETHER, they stay alive.
This scene from Gladiator is one of my absolute favorites. Nearly 20 years since its release and Maxiumus’ words ring in my ears.
We may not be standing in ancient Roman colosseum today, but I assure you, the moment your feet hit the floor this morning, you stepped onto a battlefield.
We are ALL involved in a war of epic proportions.
The reality of the fight is NOT up for debate; however, how we each CHOOSE to engage in the battle IS ours to decide
In studying the armor of God, we’ve noted the importance of the belt of TRUTH, the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and the power of shoes fitted with the GOSPEL OF PEACE.
Today, we give attention to the SHIELD OF FAITH. It’s here I firmly believe we NEED to heed Maximus’ instructions, get our shields UP and keep them TOGETHER if we will survive Satan’s attacks and come out VICTORIOUS.
We cannot SEE our enemy,
or the flaming arrows he shoots, but I assure you,
we HEAR his lies.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’re not as pretty as HER.”
We are AFRAID.
“Will the kids adjust to the new school in the middle of the year?”
“How will we pay for the broken windshield?!”
We FEEL pain.
“Why didn’t God heal my mom? Why did He let cancer get first place?”
“How could my husband’s boss lay him off without warning? How will we pay bills this month?”
No matter how the enemy attacks, we must, “In ALL circumstances,
take up the shield of FAITH.” (Ephesians 6:16)
But what is faith?
Hebrews 11, often referred to as the Hall of Faith, begins with a definition,
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.”
The author also writes, “without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for whoever would draw near to God must believe He exists…”
taking God at His Word,
believing Him no matter what,
holding onto His promises even if we can’t see how He will work out the details,
obeying Him even if it doesn’t make sense,
and trusting that He WILL remain faithful.
To show us this kind of faith IS actually possible, the author of Hebrews provides example after example of real life people who truly “lived by faith.”
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, David, and of course, Abraham.
Can’t forget him.
After all, he is the “father” of faith and the reason Paul wrote,
“the righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)
WAAAAAAAY back in Genesis 15, God make a HUGE promise to Abram (his name before God changed it). Though Abram had NO children and was OLD, God assured him his descendants would outnumber the stars of the night sky.
Abraham believed God at His word, and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) This is FAITH.
Paul assures us in Galatians 3:7 that ANYONE who has faith in God is a “son of Abraham”. (verse 9) Hence the song, Father Abraham had many sons and many sons had Father Abraham. (Go ahead, do the motions!)
BEFORE God makes any promises to Abram, He STARTS His conversation with,
“Fear not, Abram, I AM YOUR SHIELD; your reward shall be very great.”
WHO GOD IS sets the stage for Abram’s faith.
GOD is his shield as provider and protector.
He’s the same for us.
David sings in Psalm 3:3, “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.”
Not only does God lift us up, but He SURROUNDS us.
No way could we face Satan alone.
And we NEVER have to.
We don’t need Maximus’ words in our ears reminding us to lock shields.
We have a WARRIOR KING in the arena who IS OUR SHIELD.
The outcome of the battle does NOT depend on anything WE can do, but on our GOD,
for whom NOTHING is impossible.
If He can part the Red Sea,
cause the sun to stand still,
bring down a giant with a little stone,
close the mouths of lions,
turn water to wine,
feed a crowd with a boy’s meager lunch,
make the blind see,
the deaf hear,
and the lame walk,
God can shield you from Satan’s deluge of arrows through faith.
Abram believed God, and so can we.
EVERY single promise God makes, He keeps.
OUR job is to have FAITH that He will.
May we join with the Psalmist and DECLARE, “Our soul waits for the Lord; HE IS OUR HELP AND OUR SHIELD. Our heart is glad in Him, because we TRUST in His holy name.”
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