I opened my knife drawer searching for the biggest knife.  I carefully shuffled them around, then I spied the perfect knife, my cleaver.  The cleaver would be perfect to hack open the massive squash I had bought at the apple orchard.  I’m usually too lazy to bother cutting open a squash or pumpkin before I bake it, I just put it in the oven and bake it whole.  But I had waited until almost too late to put it in the oven to have it done in time for lunch.  My plan, in order to enjoy the tastiness of fresh-baked squash for lunch, was to cut it into smaller pieces in hopes it would bake faster.

I have some experience with a cleaver opening fresh coconuts so I had delusions I could whack this massive squash into smaller pieces in no time at all.  It didn’t work out quite like I had imagined.  It was a big, hardened squash.  I whacked, but my aim left much to be desired.  If I wasn’t careful I would end up with soup before I even baked it.  Finally I hacked the thing in half, after putting it on the kitchen floor and using my foot to brace it while I pried it apart with the cleaver.

I think our hearts are like that big, hardened squash sometimes.  When we see the Holy Spirit approaching us with the sword of truth we do our best to avoid him.  The Holy Spirit would love to open up our hearts with the sword of truth, dividing truth from error and spilling out the seeds of goodness He placed inside us to grow and produce fruit for Him.  But our hardened hearts are resistant and we twist and turn to avoid the aim of the sword of truth the Holy Spirit wields.

Rather than trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit we should be trying to avoid the flaming arrows of temptation the enemy shoots at us.   Ephesians 6:16 tells us we can put out the flaming arrows of the enemy by using the shield of faith.

But where can we find a shield of faith?  You can’t just run down to the local Wal-Mart and pick one up.  Any shields you find at Wal-Mart will cost you money, but all you need to acquire a shield of faith is to accept God’s love, and we all know that God’s love is free.

We all love a bargain and if something is on sale we want it.  God’s love is even better than a sale, it’s free  and it is the most important thing we can accept from God.  Yet most of us don’t really seem to want it.  We all say we want love, but when it comes to accepting the most perfect love of all we turn away from it in favor of the love of this world that cheats on us.   Why are we so resistant to accepting God’s love?  Because when we have God’s love it requires us to love others like He does, no strings attached.  The loves of this world always have strings attached.  We live on the planet earth and it makes sense to us to follow its rules.  We have grown up with the concept that the most important people go first.  We want to be first in line so we don’t have to wait.  We want to be first to win the race.  We want to choose the first piece of pie so we can enjoy the biggest slice.  Who is the most important person in my life that I always look out for first?  Me.  Let’s  represent “me” with the letter “I”.  Take a look at the letter “I” it is tall and strong, it stands straight and inflexible.  If it did anything else it wouldn’t be the letter “I”.

When I truly accept God’s love I will no longer put “I” first in my life.  I will put “U” first.  Take a look at the letter “U”.  It’s flexible.  It lets me be flexible and accepting, not rigid like the letter “I”.  When Jesus came to this earth and died for our sins He put the letter “U” first in His life.  If He would have put the letter “I” first in His life He wouldn’t have loved you enough to die for you on the cross.  Accepting God’s love in our lives leads us to the next step; humility.

We are all familiar with the phrase “I heart u”.  When you add love to the letter “I” it becomes a flexible “U”.  When I accept God’s love I become humble enough to believe that I and what I wanted in this world is nothing.  I now believe and live God’s love for me to everyone and every situation I meet.  All those little times during the day I’m annoyed by stupid people and tempted to lose my patience and get angry.  All the times I’m tempted to participate in just a little gossip or tell just a little lie.  Accepting God’s love and the resulting humility results in faith.  The kind of faith that believes God’s promises.  The kind of faith that believes He has given me the power to resist temptation.  God has promised us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist.

Ephesians 6:16 tells us to take up the shield of faith to put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Our shield of faith will protect us from the temptations that satan throws at us.  Our shield of faith is activated by our humility, which is activated by God’s love. It is pride that deactivates our shield of faith.  In John 5:54 Jesus tells us, “How can you believe, who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?”  To paraphrase that Jesus is asking us, ‘How can we believe, or how can we have faith, when we seek praise from men and don’t bother to seek the honor that only comes from God.’  It is in seeking the praise of men, essentially seeking to be first in the values of this world, that we deactivate our shields of faith with our pride.

My squash resisted my attempts to do the work I chose it to do for me, basically I wanted it to feed me for lunch.  Rather than resist the work God has chosen us to do, let us humbly accept His love and share it with others.