Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Being A Warrior.
Our reading for today: Hebrews 11: 1-3 (MsgB)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s Word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
We now find ourselves at the fourth tool from Paul’s list of armor found in his letter to the Ephesians (6: 10-18). As a reminder, here are the first three:
The Belt of Truth. The Breastplate of Righteousness. The Shoes of Peace.
Now, let’s pick up: The Shield of Faith.
My mentor, John Wimber, founding pastor of the Vineyard Churches, USA, would often quip: “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.”
And the reason he said that is because true faith, as described in the New Testament, is something inside us that can rarely be measured using earthly standards. Let me give you an example…
When someone has money, all they have to do to prove it, is to open up their wallet. When a person has influence or power, all that man or woman needs to do is speak out a request or command and suddenly, things begin to happen. Right?
But when someone has faith, New Testament faith, it’s more of a trusting in something or someone that can’t be seen, rather than in something you or I can touch or see. Thus our faith in a God who’s bigger than this world, a resurrected Christ who now dwells in heaven, or an invisible Holy Spirit who lives inside us; is so very often, a risky endeavor indeed, for those of us who choose to believe it.
But, there-in, lies the rub.
When you or I pick up The Shield of Faith, as Paul suggests in his letter to the Ephesians, we are, indeed, making a conscious choice, a firm decision, to say yes to something, or more importantly, to someone who is invisible to the naked eye. But after several thousand years of showing His amazing faithfulness to His people, this act of faith actually can become much easier than one might first imagine. Think of it this way…
When you and I travel the highways and byways of America, driving on interstates that link our major cities, we cross over large valleys and immense rivers, using bridges made of concrete and steel. As I cross over the Mississippi River Bridge in the Quad Cities, heading east toward Chicago, I’ve never found myself stopping at the edge of Iowa and wondering if I should take the risk of driving my car over the beautiful six-lane bridge that lies before me. It seems ludicrous, doesn’t it, to imagine ourselves afraid of crossing a river bridge just because we’re not really sure if we believe in bridges?
So it is with faith in God.
The truth of the matter is that God’s fail rate is absolutely minimal compared to the fail-rate of major interstate bridges across America. Yet, with complete trust in the structural soundness of that Mississippi River Bridge, I don’t even blink a second before I drive over this expanse going 75 mph, enjoying the beautiful view while never worrying one iota about my safety!
Now, keep in mind, that back in the early days of steel and concrete, the first bridge built over the massive Mississippi River (at St. Louis) was a site to behold. The bridge, which contained both a roadway and a railway, was named for its designer and builder, James B. Eads. When completed in 1874, the Eads Bridge was the longest arch bridge in the world, with an overall length of 6,442 feet. The ribbed steel arch spans were considered daring, as was the use of steel as a primary structural material: it was the first such use of true steel in a major bridge project.
But here’s the way faith works…
Being such a large, new concept, the people of St. Louis were deathly afraid to cross the new bridge when it first opened to the public. Very few people had the “faith” that this structure would hold them up as they crossed over with their wagons, while a locomotive rushed right alongside them!
So on June 14, 1874, the bridge’s investors led a “test elephant” on a stroll across the new Eads Bridge to prove it was safe. A big crowd cheered as the elephant from a traveling circus lumbered towards Illinois. It was believed that elephants had instincts that would keep them from setting foot on unsafe structures. Two weeks later, Eads sent 14 locomotives back and forth across the bridge at one time! So by the time the official opening day came, on July 4, 1874, the people of St. Louis had been so convinced of the bridge’s strength, a celebration parade stretched for fifteen miles through the streets of St. Louis!
Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.
Yet, when we take up The Shield of Faith, we’re placing our trust in a God so very much stronger and powerful than the Eads Bridge, the St. Louis circus elephant, and 14 locomotives combined!
My prayer: Father God, I understand that trusting You requires risk, but I also need to remind myself of Your great faithfulness that You have displayed toward Your people for countless generations. Stronger than steel, more solid than concrete, You, O God, are my strong bridge over big waters. I bless You and thank You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where am I believing more in earthly strength and powers while not trusting a God who is so much stronger than all of those worldly powers combined? What needs to change in my thinking so that picking up The Shield of Faith becomes a regular part of my daily routine?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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