Vigilant Guarding (4)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Are you getting ready for the busy season of cares of this world – I mean Christmas??  We are less than a month away from celebrating the birth of our Savior!! And it’s the time of the year when many put up their emotional guard. This year can we find a better way to manage through it?

Dear Heavenly Father –Many of us have so much past pain. No matter how much we try to heal the holiday season always resurfaces it. Help us surrender these things to you as we go deeper with you. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding to know what we are studying today. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

In many ways this week we have discussed guarding our minds and hearts in the right way and in surrender to God – we should also discuss being overly guarded in the wrong way. Have you even met someone who is very guarded? Who has built walls to keep others out but they have only trapped themselves?! It is kinda down the lines of yesterday’s study of self-imposed limits that we set up. 

It is a normal response for a person to look for a safe place to hide when they feel attacked, rejected, oppressed, hurt, pain, vulnerable, etc. God knew this and over and over He offers to be that safe place.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will sayto the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 ESV

If we think about the attacks and criticism (and everything else) as physical thing we can almost set up a scene – let’s imagine the end of middle ages in Europe. At this point, fortresses and strongholds were built out of stone and the people could run into them and be safe from fiery arrows and stones.

Quick google search shows a fortress, to be a noun, and is “a military stronghold, especially a strongly fortified town fit for a large garrison”.

And another quick google search shows a stronghold is “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack” or “a place of security or survival”.

As troops advanced they build new strongholds to protect their newly claimed territories. And the people could hide in these new strongholds. They had lookout towers and offensive openings used to attack back.  Are we all imagining the castles? 
So it is the holidays and these things come up and we run into the closest castle. But what if it is the enemy’s castle?

Both people running into a fortress for protection and building your own fortress is a lie. In one you are tricked into the wrong stronghold. In the other you are tricked into “building your own” which in the end turns out to also be the enemy’s trap to bind you. Both are lies.

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 ESV

God created us with the CORRECT response of wanting to flee into a stronghold and safe place – because HE IS THAT STRONGHOLD AND SAFE PLACE!!! Therefore we must guard ourselves about giving territory to the enemy by helping him build strongholds for himself and taking us captive.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV

When the Bible speaks of taking down stronghold – it means all things that are not God. Cause God alone can protect and shield us.  God is a strong fortress that cannot be torn down!

So – first we need to acknowledge we are prisoners in the wrong castle! Oops.

Then we need to shelter in the correct place – in God.

Finally, let us destroy the stronghold as 2 Corinthians 10:4 says.

How to Escape Chains:

Paul and Silas were tossed into prison and we can use their example to free us from the chains:
“they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:23b-26 ESV
It is somewhat important to note a few things: for example, Paul and Silas did not run away immediately, they were taken out of there very orderly. So when your chains fall off – do not run all willy-nilly in any direction – be led to safety.
We have undoubtedly heard that praise breaks chains! It does. But there is a shaking. We don’t like the shaking. Sometimes we stop praising when the shaking starts because it is scary. But we must keep praising – in the presence of your enemy, in the face of the giant, in what feels impossible, and in the chains while the world trembles and walls and rocks crumble. Keep praising till the chains break.
Peter escaped his chains in prison another way.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Acts 12:6-8 ESV
So Peter slept, so the angel had to strike Peter (hit him? kick him?). Doesn’t Peter wish he tried praising the Lord instead of sleeping. But as Peter obeyed the Lord’s command which came through the angel and got up quickly – through obedience and faith the chains fell off. Later in the passage Peter confesses that he had so little time to fully wake up and process what was going on that he thought it might be a dream – yet Peter was obedient and faithful and in the action of obedience the chains fell off! (He too was led away – make sure you are led away once you are freed from the chains).

How to be saved:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 ESV
Refuge is defined as something providing shelter – the correct stronghold to hide in!!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 ESV
You can see – God is our safe place and to get to Him, all you need to do is call out to Him!
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV

Tearing Down Strongholds!

Once we are safely wrapped in the arms of our protector – Let us tear down that stronghold so we aren’t deceived into the wrong place again!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV
What are our weapons? As we discussed last week, I will quote again:
17b and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:17b-20 ESV
Our primary weapon is the WORD OF GOD! It is our most powerful weapon.

John 1:14 says Jesus is the word. When Jesus battled Satan in Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus (The Word) said “It is written”. Even the Word, uses the Word. This is our first and MOST POWERFUL weapon. Read the word – memorize the word. IT IS OUR MOST POWERFUL WEAPON.

Next is praying. At all times. In the spirit. Praying at ALL times IN the SPIRIT. With ALL prayer. And supplication. – PRAYER is our next important and powerful weapon. How many times do we pray first – maybe find a verse later – maybe not seek the scriptures for a verse at all. We are to use the word first! Then prayer.

Finally, boldly proclaiming the gospel is our final weapon.

And our defensive measures (besides the armor of God) – Our God Himself! He is our fortress and deliverer! He is our protector and savior. Our relationship with the one true almighty God is the best defense we have!

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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