Ephesians 6:16 highlights one of the most important pieces of weaponry a Christian should carry:
”Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
When we think of the way the shield was used in battle, one of the most beautiful demonstrations was a Roman tactic. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (tortoise).
This is what faith does – when our stories and lives are joined to those who have come before us, we are linked to a heritage that cannot be easily overcome. We are joined with people who currently are a part of the faith but also with every single person who has come before us. When one of us struggles or falls, the others come around that person in their defense.
Sometimes we face situations we’ve never faced before. It’s in that moment that the enemy comes in like a flood and we don’t know what to do.
But then a story comes to mind – we remember what Abraham or Moses did in that situation. In these moments, our faith is to be joined to the faith of others. When our one shield combines with others, we position our faith around the body of believers and we can help one another. When someone among us is weak, we can shield them momentarily until they are strong enough to stand again.
Faith is our belief but it is also our identity.
Of all of the things it could be to us, how beautiful it is that faith is our shield.
Jim Robertson finally caught a glimpse of his son, Derek, as he positioned himself at the starting line.
Despite eight surgeries worth of injuries, Derek had qualified for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as one of the favorites and Jim was so proud.
A shot rang out and Derek ran fiercely, with Jim cheering him on.
Then it happened.
Just after the 250 meter mark, Derek fell to the ground, pain across his face, and watched his chances at gold fade into a cloud of dust. Still, he was determined to finish. Watching the agony that flashed across his son’s face with every broken hop, Jim fought his way through the crowds.
Others saw a defeated athlete but Jim saw a boy in need of his father. Making his way past security, he took his weeping son into his arms and whispered into his ear,
“Look, you don’t need to do this. You can stop now, you haven’t got nothing to prove.”
But Derek was determined and so Jim half-carried him for the remaining 100 meters, pushing away anyone who attempted to deter them.
65,000 onlookers rose to their feet in a standing ovation as father and son crossed the finish line.
Few people can name the man who won the 400 meter race that year but countless people have been inspired by the father who defied an arena’s authorities to wrap his weeping child in his arms, sharing his strength with him, so they could cross the finish line together.
It all started in a garden.
God and humanity walked together in the cool of the evening in beautiful relationship. They spoke and enjoyed an unlikely fellowship – one in which the divine and human entwined.
And then it happened.
Sin entered the world and that sacred bond was severed. But God still reached for His creation, establishing covenants and abiding with them through fire, cloud, and an Ark. Prophets represented God to the people and priests represented the people to God.
Still, the intimacy of Eden was lacking.
But God had a plan both to cleanse sin and to restore the broken relationship. He promised that His Spirit being poured out upon everyone around the world.
For years, humanity’s cry was met with the answer “not yet.” The wait ended on Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven like fire upon the 120 who had obediently waited as Jesus had instructed. They spoke in languages they had never studied, proclaiming the praises of God to immigrants who had flooded the city for the Feast of Pentecost. With that moment a great revival began and the church turned the world upside down.
More importantly, God and humanity could once again enjoy a personal relationship.
Join us on Sunday, June 9, as we celebrate the day that promise was fulfilled – and continues to be fulfilled today.
To us he remains nameless, as does his mother, but these anonymous two were central to one of the greatest miracles in the Bible.
In John’s Gospel he is simply called a lad with a lunch containing five pieces of barley bread and two small fish probably packed by a loving mother.
It was a common lunch, prepared by a common mother, for her common son, and yet it became the essential catalyst for a mighty miracle.
The lad gave the lunch to Jesus. He received it, blessed it, broke it and shared it with His disciples, who shared with the hungry people and a mighty multitude was fed!
I can imagine the boy staring in amazement at the miracle proceeding before his very eyes and proclaiming:
“my mama packs a powerful lunch!”
It all started with a loving mother preparing a simple lunch for her beloved son.
Dear mom, remember that with your busy hands and loving heart God can work miracles even though the work may seem common and routine in the moment.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
The first mention of our planet in the Bible is in Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness.” This planet was not a pleasant place nor could it sustain life. God transformed it into a perfect paradise teeming with life and vistas of beauty.
Once again the creation is troubled. Paul describes it this way; “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22) Peter predicts a destruction of the present planet and “a new heaven and a new earth.” (1 Peter 3:10-13)
God’s plan is to renovate and recreate the entire cosmos to accommodate an eternal kingdom for the righteous and redeemed. The entire heavens and atmosphere will be cleansed and renewed. There will be no more storms or destructive “acts of God”.
Earth will have no more seas (currently about three-fourths of the surface is water). There be no need for herbicides and pesticides because the natural enemies of all plant life and animal life have passed away. The ground will produce bountifully once again and in the animal kingdom “nothing shall kill or destroy.” Humans will live in harmony. There will be peace on earth and good will towards men.
God’s plan the planet will soon become a reality. It was His plan even from the time of man’s fall from grace to redeem and restore His creation to His great eternal purpose.
God’s ultimate plan for our planet will a total renovation. John the Revelator calls it “a new heaven and a new earth” but as with all renovations, there will be some destruction before the construction.
The Book of Revelation details three judgments of God, each containing seven elements. The first series of judgments is the breaking of seven seals on a scroll. As each seal is opened in heaven an event occurs on the earth (Revelation 6:1-8:1). The seventh seal reveals seven angels with seven trumpets. As each angel blows his trumpet a catastrophe strikes the earth and the populace (Revelation 8:6 – 11:19). The last series of judgments results from seven angels emptying seven bowls out upon the earth (Revelation 16:1-21).
These judgments will greatly affect the heavens and the earth. The sun at times will be “darkened” and at other times will flare and cause extreme heat. As the moon and the stars are affected it will result in longer nights and shorter days. A great earthquake will cause mountains to crumble, islands to disappear. and cities to be turned into ruble. The oceans, seas and rivers will be polluted, and all sea life will die. Famine and diseases will kill one fourth of the population and war will result in the death an additional one third of the remaining population.
These somber and catastrophic events are not the end of God’s plan for the planet. Next week we will explore the “new heavens and the new earth”.
Many people from around the world are fearful of "climate change" and the destruction of the earth and its ecosystem as we currently know them. They believe we must make drastic and immediate changes in the interest of preserving the planet. They say humans have caused the changes and only humans can solve the problems -- that universal problems call for universal solutions. They claim that every nation and every person must sacrifice and cooperate, as our very future is at stake.
The Bible predicts a world government and a world leader. Could "climate change" be the cause around which the nations rally -- even at the expense of national sovereignty? In light of the present mania in the media, among governmental leaders, among the general populace, and among many "climate scientists," it seems very plausible.
The Bible goes on to state that there will arise a charismatic and powerful man to whom kings and world leaders will accede their powers. He will appear to have the answers to humanity's problems and for a time he will seem to succeed. However, after a time there will be civil war, famine, natural disasters, world-wide war, destruction, and death. The populace and the planet will suffer universally and catastrophically. The Bible calls this charismatic world leader "the Beast," because of the ultimate havoc and destruction his reign brings upon the church and the world.
In part four of this series we will look at God's plan for the planet.
One school of thought concerning the future of the earth is that God is in control and all things are working together according to His plan. Another view is man’s plan – that it is totally up to humanity to save the planet.
The United Nations has created a plan called “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development.” The plan proposes seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals:”
These all appear to be worthy and noble goals. However, to implement these desirable goals on a global level would call for vast global concessions. In order to achieve this equality, the wealthy and powerful nations would have to diminish and help the poorer and weaker nations to increase. National sovereignties would have to surrender to global partnerships. Who would govern and control this new global entity? Who would decide how to equally share the wealth and power? Who would ensure equality and justice for all?
The Bible predicts just such a government with a global leader. We are watching Biblical prophecies unfold just as the ancient prophets foretold. These are indeed interesting and momentous times.
There is much concern about the future of our planet and its people but there is a great divide as to what must be done and how to accomplish it. The next few articles in this space will explore two very different schools of thought concerning our world and its future. One plan is man’s plan and the other is God’s plan.
On June 13, 1992 a consortium of 178 nations met in Brazil to consider the future of the planet. A plan for “Global Sustainable Development” was formed and approved. It was called Agenda 21 in consideration of the fast approaching 21st century. More meetings were held in 1997, 2002, 2012 and the plan was revised and updated as new realities were encountered.
The United Nations building in New York City hosted a meeting on September 25-27, 2015 to further refine the plan. Seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” were approved for the benefit of the “people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.” The new expanded plan called Agenda 2030 is admirable and ambitious and the goal is the to be fully operational by the year 2030.
The ambitious “Green New Deal” recently introduced to our House of Representatives and Congress basically follows the same path as Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 proposed by the United Nations.
Though these plans contain some good and worthy goals, the problem lies in how to implement them. In order to comply by 2030, these programs can only be implemented by drastic intervention by global heads of government.
In our next article we will discuss how the Bible predicts just such a global government.
“Faith begins where Reason sinks exhausted.” (Albert Pike)
To the untrained eye, it had to be the most unorthodox move in the armed history. The fact that a kid with no combat training had squared off against a giant even the king’s most would not challenge was one thing. But to do it without a shield? The battalion must have whispered to one another as he walked by. Hadn’t the king provided him with armor? But David won one of the most decisive victories in military history, all without the aid of a shield – to the untrained eye, at least.
So why did David reject the armor of his king? Perhaps, being as covenant-minded as he was, he recalled God’s words to Abraham as Saul’s men adjusted the ill-fitting armor:
“I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
Perhaps he realized that with God as a shield, Saul’s armor was not so necessary after all.
Years later, David, now king, would find himself on the run from a son who had not only betrayed him but who had also amassed an army against him. Perhaps he thought back to that same moment with Goliath – the moment he had prepared for battle by laying aside his terrestrial shield, when he wrote in Psalm 3:3, “
Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”
As we move through life, we tend to collect pieces of armor to keep us safe from all manner of pain and injuries, physical and personal. Even so, even our greatest armor cannot always keep us safe. Still, as we face our greatest battles, we can cast our eyes to the hills and exchange our earthly shields for a divine one that will never fail not only to defend us but also to lift us in our hour of greatest need.