Last Thursday, I spoke to our Ladies’ Group at church. It was a nerve-wracking experience. …Not because I’m afraid of public speaking – on the contrary – I revel in it. (I don’t know if it’s because my life is fueled by high-strung stress, or if it’s because I just truly enjoy being the center of attention, imparting my well-researched, methodically organized, logically outlined and alliterated knowledge to the world.) But this…speaking before a group of ladies…occupying a lectern that so many Godly women – far more worthy than I – had occupied…sharing a burden, a calling, that God had so deeply impressed on my heart…this was terrifying.
I had prepared the lesson that I felt was what God would have me give – or at least I tried to. I had never written a more difficult devotion, or had more problems preparing a presentation. I researched and studied and prayed for months. My head and my heart were so full, but I couldn’t seem to gather my thoughts and organize them into coherent form. I finally locked myself in my classroom Thursday after school and determined that, no matter what, I was going to speak that evening on what God had given me, and I was going to prepare as well as I could. I claimed Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” I studied and prayed and wrote and organized, not pleased with the outcome, but desperately depending on God to work.
At our meeting that evening, the fellowship flowed around me. I smiled and chatted and enjoyed the food, all the while thinking, “What on earth am I thinking?! I don’t need to give this devotion! I should change my topic!!” I reached in the recesses of my mind and began to dust off one of my many “prepared sermonettes,” trying to calm my nervous heart. But I knew that was a futile and faithless effort.
When it finally came my turn, I blundered and blubbered through the entire thing – shaking because I was nervous, and crying (at times) when I was deeply touched. (I was highly embarrassed by that…I hate crying in public…my face gets all red and splotchy, and my nose gets all goopy and gross…it is not adorable in the least…) But I managed to survive. …and I think…perhaps…I managed to impart just a little bit of the truth that God has been teaching me. A truth that, I hope, I will be able to share with you in a (somewhat) timely manner…
I love war. Not starting it, or fighting it, but I love studying about it, reading about it, teaching it. Some of my favorite books are military histories: the Norman Conquest, the Napoleonic Wars, and of course the Civil War. I love reading about their strategies. Before there were submarines and airplanes and atomic bombs, there was some really great military strategy. In fact, until the 19th Century, war was pretty much fought the same since the beginning of time. Of course, you would have small advances that would change the way certain things were done – The Canaanites were the first to use iron chariots that were much stronger than bronze; Philip of Macedonia was the first one to effectively use foot soldiers in a phalanx when he conquered most of Greece; then you had the Chinese doing their own thing in Asia, and the introduction of firearms in warfare about the 1400s; but the concept was all pretty much the same – you had to be either stronger or smarter than the enemy, or have a secret weapon, or you were going to lose.
Spiritually, we’re in a war. Ephesians tells us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We are in a battle against Satan and his evil forces. We are not stronger. We are certainly not smarter. But we are not doomed because we have a secret weapon. Ephesians 6:13-16 says: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Satan has set his army in array. He is ready for war, but God has given us all the protection we need to combat his advances and keep his forces at bay.
…but this is not a devotion on the Armor of God. We all know what the Armor of God is. We’ve memorized it since kindergarten. We know what we’re supposed to do. I’d like to talk tonight about the Fiery Darts of Satan…and how we can defend against them using the Shield of Faith.
About a year and a half ago, I was reading through the Pauline Epistles, and I came to this section (Ephesians 6). You know how you read those passages that you’ve heard your entire life, and you don’t really pay any attention to them? Well, that’s what I was doing. I read through the first part of the armor, yeah, yeah…then I read verse 16 and stopped…wait a minute…what on earth are fiery darts?? And how on earth are we supposed to “defend against them using this magical shield”??? So I began a Bible study right there. The fiery darts are obviously the weapons of Satan. Jesus called Satan a liar and the father of lies. As you look at Satan’s attacks in Scripture, all the way back to Eve, you can see that his weapon is always lies. The fiery darts of Satan are the lies he whispers to us that are so easy to believe. But for every lie that Satan throws at us, God has a truth to combat it…that’s where the Shield of Faith comes in. FAITH is “an inward belief that results in an outward action.” We can define that further by saying that BELIEVE means to accept, affirm, or determine something to be true. Therefore, when we have faith in something, we are inwardly believing – accepting, affirming, or determining – that something is true, and that belief will reveal itself in our actions. Wielding the Shield of Faith means that instead of listening to Satan’s lies and acting on them, I instead choose to believe the truth of God’s Word and act on that.
That’s all well and good, but how on earth does that apply to us? Well, I began to study. At first, I just studied the fiery darts that I was believing in my life, or the ones that my students were believing, and the truth to combat them, but the more I got into it, the more I realized that the danger is not in just believing the lies – it goes far deeper than that.
This topic has been moved to Wielding the Shield