We are through our 7th week in the study. I lead Monday morning and again Monday night. I want to tell you that if once is good, twice is better. It has been such an enriching experience for me to go through this study with different groups because of the different perspective each one brings. Even the different mixes of people bring different facets of experience and understanding to the study.
It is foundational to all other aspects of our walk w/ Jesus. Without it, we are wandering on our own in dangerous territory. Because of this, our enemy seeks to destroy it more than any other piece of armor. The shield has the mobility to "cover" every other piece of armor. If the enemy disables it, he has much greater access to our salvation, righteousness, and peace...
I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 2 Tim 4:7 NLT
Testing of faith is an ongoing daily experience in the life of every believer. We can expect opposition at every turn. Sometimes in the form of Goliaths, and other times smaller annoyances, but always our faith is tested to produce a stronger faith. How would it grow if it wasn't tested.
We discover in scripture that the righteous will have many troubles, but the Lord will deliver him from them all. (Ps 34:19; John 16:33; 2 Tim 3:10-12; and 1 Peter 4:12-13)
Jesus also taught that tribulation is part of living in the world, but we are to "take heart" or be encouraged, and on top of that, to rejoice because He has overcome the world. In other words, we are promised victory in every battle as long as we trust Him.
We rejoice that the testing is producing perseverance, character, hope, rewards in heaven, salvation, completeness, praise, glory and honor!! (Rom 5:1-5; Hebrews 10:32-39; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:3-9)
Faith and gold are contrasted because they both have to go through the same method of purification, (heating and stirring~and I know you all "get that"!) but faith lasts eternally and gold perishes. So how much more valuable to pursue faith! How God proves His love for us in taking the time to stand over us and watch over the process until we reflect His likeness!
Wonderful are the assurances in the Word of God for our victory~ it is promised that He is able to restore us, and make us strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10,11; Hebrews 2:14-18)
If we look @ Abraham offering Isaac on the altar, Jesus' temptation in the wilderness for 40 days, and Peter being "sifted by Satan", we see how Abraham and Jesus were faithful and rewarded, and how when Peter's faith failed, he "wept bitterly" but Jesus had prayef for him and true to His promises, He restored him when He returned. The promise is for victory!!
We can rejoice that whatever Satan means to use to "take us down", God uses for our strengthing and establishment in His family!
Another cause for joy in the midst of trial is that as part of the family of God, whenever we face trials and temptations we have our Great High Priest, Jesus who interceeds for us. We have armor, Scripture, promises of victory, power to overcome, and a choice to count it all joy...No weapon formed against us will prosper when the King of Kings is on our side!
And then~ we receive the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls, and a crown when we will one day appear with Jesus in His glory!
Alas another song pops in my head. This one by Steve Green... The chorus: Heaven is my passion and prize, the goal on which I firmly fix my eyes... reward of the faithful, desire of the wise...heaven is my passion and prize.
Let us be longing for His appearance and our reward for faithfulness~all glory to God!