"Every word of God is tested. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you and you will be proved a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6
"In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." Ephesians 6:16
"Is this going to be on the test?" Every teacher has heard these words uttered in their classroom. It often expresses a lack of interest in what is being said at the moment. It reveals an inclination to ignore the lesson completely unless there is a consequence for not paying attention. In other words, "Is this important? Is it necessary? Is it something I need to know? Is this going to come back and haunt me at a later date?" When asked if a particular person was a student in one of his classes. A professor replied,
"No. He is not one of my students. He just attends one of my classes." Dr. William Barclay
Ouch! I sometimes resemble that remark. How about you? Know doubt about it, The Word of God has been tested and tried. These two words desribe a process. Tested involves purification. It comes from jettisoning a trust in anyone else but God. Tried refers to proven confience that results when protection from God is provided. When people face their toughest tests in life, they discover that the Word of God can be trusted for the answers to the test. Purification comes from God knocking you out of you so He can fill you with Himself. Proof in His protection comes from having tried a number of disappointing substitutes before coming to the conviction that God is really who He says He is, and everyone else is lying. People who are satisified to be filled with themselves or the false promises of others never hunger and thirst for what God has prepared on the menu for them.
The truth of the Word of God does not always make the test any easier, but it leads a genuine student of the Word of God. Jesus is always the right answer to any test that comes our way. Passing the test does not always mean surviving the test, or eventually thriving from it. The test is meant to be passed. This means the student of the Word must trust his Teacher for the length and the outcome of the exam. If the test is before him, it must be necessary and it must be passed. When asked what he had learned from a prolonged, and painful illness that would eventually take his life, one great man of God replied:
"Tell them the last test is always the hardest." Allen Redpath
There are no short cuts or easy roads for the person God intends to prepare for a great work. Dependency upon the Word of God provides refuge from the fire of the enemy, but not an exemption from the battle. Refuge is often only sought after running out of supplies. Reaching a point of physical exhaustion or spiritual battle fatigue leads a person to then end of themselves and the beginning of God. As long as a person feels adequate for the mission, they are tempted to believe they are equipped for it. Receiving new power for God's work comes from seeking greater protection from His Shield. This learning curve of preparation is not painless or void of fear. It comes from consistent companionship with The Champion, Jesus Christ, and it involves the fellowship of His suffering.
"For God to use a man greatly, He must hurt a man deeply." A.W. Tozer
The shield of faith provides protection from the flaming arrows of the enemy. Fear tempts a warrior to run in spite of having been ordered to stand and face the enemy. When the smell of the burning tar reaches his nostrils, and the screams of the wounded fill his ears, the warrior begins to doubt what he knows to be true.
Paul challenged the Church at Ephesus three times to stand firm and reminded them to pray at all times in the Spirit. He knew then what we know now. Prayer raises The Shield of The Champion to protect us while we shove The Sword of The Spirit down the throat of the enemy. Prayer silences the voice that questions the integrity of God's Word.
Prayer fuels faith. Talk feeds fear. Talking about a crisis takes our eyes off of The Champion, removes us from behind The Shield of protection, and fans the flames of the enemy. When the enemy hears believers talking themselves into fear it raised their morale, and encourages them to pour it on. Prayer turns our fear into faith, and drives the enemy to fear.
"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless work, prayerless studies or prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray." Samuel Chadwick
Prayer draws us closer to the protection of The Champion's shield of refuge. Running to Jesus is how the warrior is able to stand firm in the face of the enemy's fiercest attack. Running away from the battle line leaves the warrior unprotected and vulnerable to the worst attack the enemy has to throw against him. The choice is between running away and running to pray. Choose wisely. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!