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Neighboring Well Part 5

This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Neighboring Well”.

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This series is called Neighboring Well and in it we are talking about hospitality. I said that there are some spiritual applications and some practical applications that I want us to look at. We are talking about the importance of taking a stand for our neighbors by taking some time to look at the armor of God in Ephesians 6. We have discussed the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and having our feet shod with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Today we are going to look at the shield of faith.

Scripture Reading

Hebrews 11:1-6 (NIV)
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

So today we are continuing our discussion about the armor of God by looking at the shield of faith.

Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

I think that we often view shields as more of a protective piece of armor, which is certainly part of what a shield does, but the shield also has offensive capabilities.

As I was thinking about this I started thinking about Captain America and the way that he uses his shield.

In case you have never heard of Captain America in the marvel comics, he is a “super-soldier,” that resulted from an experimental procedure that transformed a small, undersized guy named Steve Rodgers into an amazingly strong and incredibly fast person, who was equipped with an amazing shield.

Now, before you think I have lost my mind and I am trying to preach on Captain America, I do want to say that for a fictional character, Captain America has some important things figured out. For example, there is a scene in the movie the Avengers, where the Black Widow is talking to Captain America and she says that the people that Captain America is pursuing are basically gods, and Captain America has a classic response. He says, “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

So, I think it is safe to include him in this discussion.

The shield that Captain America has not only protects him from attack, it is also used by him like a boomerang.

Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The enemy uses the tricks and lies to try and keep us from experiencing the life we were created for. The shield of faith offers protection from these flaming arrows of the evil one.

The shield of faith also emboldens us to move forward and advance the Kingdom of God. To take a stand for our neighbors so we can declare the praises of Him who rescued us from darkness and brought us into His marvelous light

Psalm 33:20 (NIV)
20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Hebrews 11:6 gives us some great insight into the components of our shield of faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (MSG)
6 It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

God exists, God cares and God responds.

1. God exists

Faith starts here. That God exists. That He is real. There are a lot of things that help us to believe that God is real. But a few verses before this one in Hebrews, there is a great reason to believe:

Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Take a good look around you when you go outside. Look at the sky, the ocean, the trees, the deer. All these things couldn’t have been made out of nothing.

Look at this building we are in. It didn’t just happen. It had a builder. Someone had to create it.

Hebrews 3:4 (NIV)
4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Science is leaning finally to the idea that the universe had a beginning and some intelligence in the design.

Genesis Chapter 1 has provided this information for years, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. God exists and He is the creator of everything, including you.

2. God cares

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

He really does care for you and about you. He came so that you might have life now and forever.

John 10:10 (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

3. God responds

Matthew 6:28-34 (NIV)
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Seek first His Kingdom. He is so much better at taking care of us than we are. When we can settle in the truth that He has us in His hands, it frees us from being consumed by our own needs and allows to focus on living for Him, which is where real life is found. Part of living for Him is the realization that it is not all about me. It is some about me, but real life is found living His way, for Him, and loving Him and others.

God exists, God cares, and God responds.

Knowing and believing these things helps us to take a stand. We are aware of the schemes and tricks and traps of our enemy and we can stand up against them because our faith is in Christ. And we can move beyond that and stand for our neighbors against these attacks while we look for ways to introduce them to the Kingdom of God.

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