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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, October 01 2019

God wants us to know Him and He wants us to tear down anything that keeps us & others from knowing Him in the way He wants us to. He knows that old patterns of thinking & behavior will keep us at a distance so we don’t enter in to all that He has promised was ours in Christ. 

That’s what a strong hold is… It has a strong hold on some area of our lives, so that we are prevented from walking in obedience to what God is asking of us. As a result, we don’t experience the full measure of freedom which belongs to us.                                                           

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into a man’s yard. He could tell from the collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

The dog calmly came over to him, got a few pats on his head, then followed him into the house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep. Two hours later, he went to the door, and was let out.

The next day he was back, greeted the man in his yard, walked inside and went to his spot in the hall and again slept for a couple of hours. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious about this dog’s strange behavior, he pinned a note to his collar, stating that he would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if they are aware that almost every afternoon their dog comes to his house for a nap.

The next day the dog arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: it said…

'He lives in a home with non stop noise and yelling, 6 children, and 2 under the age of 3 -                   he's just trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?                                               Strongholds will keep you from resting in the finished work that Christ has accomplished. 

Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it (fail to enter in). 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not follow through in faith like those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said”…..

When the Hebrew children left Egypt and were finally ready to enter the promised land, there was a stronghold which blocked their way. They had to go through 40 unnecessary years of wandering because of their unbelief, but finally there they are, and all they went through has now brought them to the place where they were ready to receive. But now, Jericho blocked their way of entering in. It was huge, well fortified, and impenetrable… 

Let me suggest that Jericho was a symbol of what they had built through the 40 year pattern of rebellion and disobedience to God. Now they had to confront what their resistance had built. And it blocked their way, now they finally realized that God had beenright all along….God said, ‘This stronghold must come down”….

2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every imagination that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

I find it interesting that Paul in this passage isn’t talking to those outside the church, but he is speaking to the believers who are in the church, but are struggling in their Christian walk….

The word “stronghold” here in the Greek, is (achurooma), it is a strong, fortified place.                            History is filled with accounts of invading armies conquering a foreign territory, and when they did, their top priority was to remove the strongholds of power. To fail to do this, would cancel out any real victory in theland. The problem came when an invader did not occupy every district in the land by setting up rulers in the occupied area, and as soon as the army moved through, the enemy in the stronghold could come back and reoccupy the conquered territory.

The Jewish people are celebrating Rosh Hashanah today as the day when God created Adam and Eve. It’s the Jewish New Year..Since the Jewish calendar is lunar, so it’s from sunset to sunset and the shofar is sounded at each sunset. So today I want to declare sunset on Strongholds, and Sonrise on freedom and new beginnings….  

Strongholds do what strongholds do ……Whenever we resist the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, which is letting us know what God would have us to do, no matter how much it goes against our desires and wishes, we are building a stronghold, and it’s hold on us will grow stronger and stronger, the further we go in disobedience. The building material for strongholds is disobedience.

Strongholds will take you where you never planned to go. Cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay. Keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and make sure you can never get back to where you started from….

Strongholds will keep you from reading your bible, they will keep you from prayer, they will keep you from using your gifts and talents in the ministry, they will keep you from witnessing and letting your light shine out to others. 

Strongholds will keep you thinking in a way that will cause you to go contrary to God, and it will cause you to shut your eyes and ears so you don’t have to deal with it….

Strongholds will keep churches from being effective, and generations will be lost… It will keep individuals from being effective and co-workers, neighbors and family members will face God, and hear Him say “depart from me, I never knew you”…

When the blind lead the blind they will both fall into the ditch together….

Strongholds will cause you to do the things you know deep down you shouldn’t and not do the things deep down that you know you should…

When people who once came to church, stop attending, there’s a stronghold they’ve built which makes it harder and harder to start attending again….

When folks who once contributed to the church, stop contributing, a stronghold is built that makes it harder and harder to start contributing again….

Strongholds are built in the thought life…. The place of our imaginations, our fears, our doubtings, our places of resistance and rebellion, our logic, our perceptions and reasoning….

Strongholds can be good things that keep us from the best things and cloud the truth so we don’t have to deal with it.

Did you know that everything you see starts upside down and then your brain has to adjust it and put it right side up. Let me say that again… What you see starts upside down and then your brain has to adjust it and put it right side up… Strongholds prevent your ability to turn things you see right side up….so you are prevented from seeing it as God sees it….THE RIGHT WAY!!! 

Galatians 5:24 “And they that are Christ's have crucified(dismantled) the flesh (the old life patterns) with the affections and lusts that are a part of it”.

There was a time when the South was a stronghold for slaveryand that stronghold was not broken easily. They quoted scripture to justify it and Southern Christians just accepted it as a way of life. It was just the way things were, don’t mess with it! In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed in America. The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolina's, and evens into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The headlines read, ’Slavery Legally Abolished!’ 

However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation. They went on living like they had never been set free. In fact, when one Alabama slave was asked what he thought of the Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, whose proclamation had gone into effect, he replied "I don’t know nothing about Abraham Lincoln except they say he set us free. And, I don’t know nothing about that neither." 

The Civil war was fought and 620,000 died fighting that war. A document was signed which stated that slaves were legally set free. Yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it. They remained as slaves, though they were legally free. Even though they were emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives. 

Many today, have received Christ, they have accepted the great emancipator and savior, they have been set free, yet they have chosen to remain slaves to many of the same strongholds all of their lives.

The apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 10:23 ”All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify”.

Society and local customs and culture may have no problem with things that are in conflict with biblical Christianity. And we begin to believe we are in great spiritual shape, without the mirror of God’s word to look into each day. 

Strongholds can be like people who are caught in a revolving door, fighting the same battles over and over. They never move beyond a certain point, because they keep getting off where they got in…..This happens because, the enemy is still occupying a part of their life, and unless these strongholds are pulled down, the battle will continue to rage and be the open door to let the destroyer come and go as he wants.

Until we stop making excuses, we will never move beyond these life controlling patterns. 

Strongholds will keep you so busy fighting alligators, you never drain the swamp!!

Strongholds are built on deception and intimidation…. When you avoid the truth, you end up embracing a lie and then you have to justify the lie, so you convince yourself that what you’re doing is OK, and the justification becomes, “That’s just who I am”…

But the real issue is, what and who does God say you are? A stronghold is sure proof that we have not seen ourselves as God wants us to see ourselves….

A lost dog strayed into the jungle. A lion sees him and says to himself "this guy looks edible, and I’m hungry, but I’ve never seen his kind before".

So the lion starts toward the dog with lunch on his mind. The dog starts to panic but as he's about to run he sees some bones and gets an idea and he says loudly "mmm...that was some good lion meat, but I could sure eat some more!".

The lion abruptly stops and says " woah! I guess this guy is tougher then he looks, I better leave while I can". A monkey has witnessed everything, and realizes he can benefit from this situation he figures by telling the lion about the deception he canget something for himself in return. So the monkey reveals what really happened and the lion is very angry that he let himself be deceived. "Get on my back, and we'll get him together" he says.

So they go rushing back to the dog. The dog sees them and realizes what has happened and starts to panic. But he gets anidea and shouts "where did that lying monkey go! I told him to bring me another lion an hour ago..."

Watch out for lying strongholds!

Our strongholds are not the final authority on anything!!!! They make things seem impossible, that can easily be changed if we didn’t have the wrong perspective….

If Jesus already won the battle, why are we still struggling?!

When you see what God sees, strongholds will no longer have the last word!

1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! Who giveth (continually gives) us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

We must approach our strongholds from the position of victory!

When the people faced the fortified city of Jericho, and they sawhow high and thick the walls were, and heard the roar of the army within, but it didn’t drown out the voice of God speaking to them…. They could still hear what God was telling them…. The tense of the verb is important: 

Joshua 6:2 “I have given Jericho into your hand.” Then Joshua passed it on to the leaders and they passed it on to the people… I can imagine it echoing through the ranks, until every person got it loud and clear….

(walk around the people and speak it… “I have given Jericho into your hand”)

So God is saying the victory has already been won! All they had to do was claim it and go ahead and take it!

Jesus told his disciples, “I have overcome the world”…. Past tense….

God is telling each of us the same thing….. “I have given youvictory over this stronghold”….. It has controlled you long enough, now it’s time for you to be in control…. Claim it and take it, it’s yours!!!!

I think the words of Edgardo Silvoso allow us to see another aspect of strongholds….. He states:  "A spiritual stronghold is a mind-set impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable, those situations that we know are contrary to the will of God”.                                             Something happens or maybe a series of events happens, and you begin to believe a lie through those events, a lie that becomes your reality. Think of the ramifications of this…..Let me give you some examples…. 

.(How about) “My spouse is hopeless.  They'll never be saved”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set)                                        You see, 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not forgetful in keeping His promise, as some may think. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance”. 

(How about) “I'm just a weak person.  I'll never be free fromfleshly lust”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set)  

Doesn’t Galatians 5:16 say, “Walk by the Spirit, (make the word of God, your rule of behavior), and you will not act out the desires of the flesh”.

(Here’s another one) “I’ll never be financially independent!  I'll always have to struggle to make ends meet”. (That’s a stronghold talking)  

You see, 3 John 2 says “I pray that you may prosper and enjoy good health even as your soul is prospering”.

(One more) “I'm getting older. Feebleness and disease is now inevitable”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set)  

The bible says.. Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. v3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, v4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, v5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”.(Does that make sense?)

Since God's Word is inspired truth, patterns of thought that are contrary to the word, are then a deceptive mind set and a stronghold….

You can see clearly that a stronghold is double mindedness…. And Jesus said that a double minded person would receive nothing from the Lord.  

The apostle Paul tells us that strongholds are constructed of arguments (with God), perspectives that are in error,  imaginations which have no value, and thoughts that are contrary to the knowledge of God.

The Greek word for these arguments with God and within yourself here is “logismos” which   is contradictory reasoning. The Greek word for “Out of whack” perspectives is “hupsoma”,or exalting our view over God’s view. The Greek word for imaginations, is “noema” or unsubstantiated reasoning with no substance…

Surrender is the key to successful Christian living, and victorious living. As we can see, all    the ingredients that make a stronghold are contrary to a Surrendered life. 

Two Pastors wives were visiting one another while they sewedtheir husband’s pants. The first woman said: My husband is just beside himself, he does not know what to do anymore and he is so tired and depressed, the people don’t care and he said he is ready to just give up and resign. The second woman said: I am sorry to hear that because my husband has never been happier.  Our membership is growing and we are out of our financial burden, we have such a loving congregation. Life could not be any better than it is right now. Oh yes, Did I say they were mending their husbands pants….That should tell you a lot, you see, the seat of the pants the first woman was mending were worn out, the knees of the pants the second woman was mending were worn out”.Come on, there’s a big difference between the seat and the knees!!!

One of the trademarks of those believers with strongholds is that they are strongly committed but their commitment means they are in control of what we are committed to. But surrender is different, Surrender means that we are no longer in control of the area of surrender!!

A person can be committed to carry the cross around Key West as a witness, and yet not be surrendered to the principles of the cross. In each area of our lives where we surrender to God’s spirit, we begin to break the power of strongholds in our lives. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations [reasonings], and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, we bring into captivity (surrender) every thought to the obedience of Christ”

Jesus has always defeated Satan with truth, and He gives us that very same power, not only to speak it but to stand in it, and every time Jesus said “It is written”, Satan could do nothing but back down and shut his big accusing mouth….Light dispels darkness and Satan is the prince of darkness. The life of Jesus conquerors death, and Satan is the destroyer. God’s righteousness defeats the wicked one. Satan the author of sickness, affliction and disease is no match for Jesus the healer and deliverer… 

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

All that we have looked at before is vitally important, but there is an important word which needs to be inserted here, and it is “Persistence”…. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase that “The greatest oak was a little nut that held it’s ground”….

The staying power of Persistence will allow you to walk in victory after the initial sense of euphoria, celebration and relief has long passed. 

Truth will get you to victory and persistence will keep you in victory!

That applies to the stongholds of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anger issues, revenge, and covetousness, fear and depression. 

For example, anger, depression and fear, like many of the others, can be sleeper strongholds, that jump up and take you by surprise. It leaves you wondering, “where did that come from”? We may call it “road rage”, “temporary insanity”, or “child and spouse abuse”, but it was a sleeper stronghold that was never dealt with…. 

We’ve had great friends we enjoyed being with, and suddenly something happened and we wondered, “who is this person” They had a side we never knew about…. A sleeper stronghold….

They end up in court facing charges, in prison serving time, or with their reputation ruined….

The suicide crises which plagues our country is another case in point. Folks constantly say, but they looked so great yesterday, and I would have never suspected this. 

They may have surrendered, and addressed their issues, but they didn’t persist into victory!

A man asked a friend to help him in making some renovations on a home. He needed to demolish a cement wall in order to enlarge a room. The contractor he hired for the job came with a sledge hammer and with the sledge hammer, he began striking the wall with blow after blow. To a casual bystander, it appeared he was wasting his time. Ten, twenty, thirty blows, and just a few cracks.  But, on the thirty fith blow, the whole wall was covered with cracks. At that point he proceeded to totally dismantle the wall, one blow at a time.

We all have run into stubborn strongholds that defy change -- worry, fear, anxiety, losing our motivation, lack, poverty, stubbornness and rebellion, disease, and so many others…..

We hear of someone else’s wall coming down and we are encouraged and we hit it again…. And we hear of another wall crumbling and we’re encouraged to hit it again… Someone else begins to praise God for their break through and we hit it again, and WALLA WALLA BING BANG….IT BEGINS TO FALL!!!

If Satan can keep you in the regions of the carnal mind, he’ll defeat you in every battle. But if you keep Satan in the regions ofGod’s truth in faith, you’ll defeat him in every battle!

Is anyone here excited about 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of every strongholds”.

How about if we say it this way in a declaration of prayer……Let’s declare it together….

“I cast down imaginations and reasonings. I bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. If the thought doesn’t line up with the Word of God, I reject it. Now I believe andmeditate on what God’s Word says. Lord Jesus, I surrender my life into Your hands. I ask that You would place me into Your perfect will and plan. Lord, lead and guide me in the direction that You would have me to go. 

I apply the finished work of the cross as I receive Your freedom from strongholds and limiting beliefs that would hinder myrelationship and walk with You. I have been set free, that I may stand firm, and no longer be burdened down with anything that is not your truth and Your will. Deliver me from any distortedthinking , sickness, debt, sadness, hunger, pain, fear, oppression, conflict, and unbelief, for I proclaim Your rule and reign over mylife today.

I declare that You have come that I may have life, and have it abundantly. Equip and use me, as an agent of deliverance, and ambassador of Your love. Thank You for a new thing that isspringing up, as you make a way where there is no way. Allow me to walk in the grace, love and truth that gives purpose to my life.Give me the courage to be brave and steadfast and yet kind and compassionate that I may see the impossible made possible. In Jesus name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 04:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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