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of faith, shield, and a tortoise

Devotional for Friday, May 12, 2017

Read this verse carefully. “Above all, LIFT UP the protective shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16. How is your faith quotient? How would you grade your faith level? Poor, medium, strong? Be honest. Do you have faith to believe God can move mountains? Do you have faith to believe He can calm a troubled sea? Or is it just words; that it sounds good to say, but really…really, can God do that? Do you doubt He can? Is there anything about your personal walk that hinders God working through you?  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is an unshakeable belief in the promises of God: any of them, name any of them – for salvation, for strength, for hope, for deliverance, for healing..among others. Do you have the kind of faith that fully believes that God can do it? Good questions. Good ones to answer.

Do you feel you lack faith? Anyone can. Just ask God to increase your faith. “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” (James 1:6) If your faith is in what you alone can feel, touch, and see, then it’s probably a small faith, one that God will need to increase. Your faith can’t be in yourself, because you weren’t designed to be god. Only God is God; He is God alone! You can’t doubt Him. He IS who He said He was, and is, and shall always be!

The Shield of faith should be raised? Why? Because satan and his army are continually against you; every day, finding your weak spots, and ready to take you out! No mercy; shoot to kill. These are ‘fiery darts,’ my friends. He’s not playing games. They aren’t just plastic darts! They are darts, on fire, aimed right at you. The shields in the time of Jesus were around 22 lbs, with a height of 42 inches and 32 inch across, with a metal piece running across the center of the shield. You need defense. Don’t kid yourself! Why raise the shield? 1) because you are justified by faith – made right. Sins forgiven. 2) because faith enables you to overcome, just as Jesus did (“I have overcome the world – John 16:33). 3) Faith makes it possible for you to please God. Hey, great things happen when you please God. He’s on your side! (“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at please with him – Proverbs 16:7).

And 4th) Faith allows us to shield each other. There was a unique Roman tradition of attacking an enemy in the time of the early church, that was called TESTUDO, or tortoise formation. Because an army of warriors could be subject to a virtual shower of arrows from above, especially if they were trying to advance on a walled or fortified city, they needed protection. But they also needed to keep advancing. That’s when they used this tortoise formation. The soldiers formed a tight square. Those in the front raised their shields in front of them, those on the three other sides, the same, and those in the middle raised their shields above their heads. By doing this, all the shields formed a tight ‘single’ covering (like a tortoise shell) and no part of the band of soldiers was left exposed. [incidentally, police in our 21st C will use it in mob riots/crowds]

What an awesome visual of the way the body of Christ should walk, and help each other; using this ‘tortoise’ formation. We help shield each other, help protect each other, have each other’s back (top, side, front). Seriously, we are called to walk together in a tight formation and advance against our spiritual enemy to defeat them. (Ephesians 4:16). A shield, whether it be physical or spiritual, can only be effective when it is raised. This requires an ongoing state of preparedness and patience on our part. Think of the tortoise formation in relationship to how God defends us:  He is before you, behind you, beside you and singing a song over you. He is on ALL sides and hence, is creating a tortoise formation over you personally! That is awesome. So keep your shield UP at all times, exalting Him, praising Him, never giving up on His leadership in your life. He sees, hears, and knows what you don’t. Trust Him. Put your complete faith in Him, and never put your shield of faith down, because it ONLY works in the UP position. God bless you.

 
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