The Word of God is our Road Map to Freedom from Strongholds

God was all over the place at Woodridge Baptist Church yesterday! From the graying, grinning greeter lady at the front door to the kids shouting praises upstairs during children’s worship. I couldn’t stop smiling.

One of my favorite moments was singing “My Tribute” shoulder-to-shoulder with my dear friend, Carolyn Brumley. I haven’t heard her sing in 30 years, but her Spirit-filled tones sounded like heaven to me. Carolyn is one of those women God placed in my life way back then to help train me in the faith that sustains me in the here and now. I can’t even articulate how grateful I am for Carolyn Brumley, Carolyn Whitten, and Cathie Grayson for being mentors in my younger days and treasured friends, always.

Oh, Lord, thank you! And help me follow in their footsteps to love on young girls and women you place in my sphere of influence. 

Last week, my pastor started a series of sermons on demolishing strongholds. You can go back and read about the first sermon here. In that sermon, he shared that the first step in demolishing strongholds is to surrender. To admit that we can’t kick that sin habit to the curb on our own.

But surrender doesn’t mean we’re off the hook and it’s all on God to fix us. God’s power is the fuel to get this freedom truck moving, but we have to stomp on the gas! God’s Word is the perfect roadmap.

This battle we fight is a battle of the mind. The evil one knows if he can keep our minds off track, he will keep our lives off track. If we know we’re off course, we just might make a u-turn, but if we have no idea we’re on the wrong road, we’ll just keep toodling along straight to a dead end.

The Word of God is our roadmap to freedom from strongholds, but, just like a closed map, it won’t do any good if we don’t pick it up and study it.

God’s Word exposes our stronghold as the death trap it really is. 

When we apply the light of God’s Word to our strongholds, our excuses scatter like roaches in a dark room. None of our justifications or comparisons can stand up to God’s truth. God doesn’t care that Betty Lou next door drinks way more than you do. It’s not about Betty Lou. It’s about you. God doesn’t care that those pain killers were prescribed by a doctor. He cares that you are enslaved to them and that they are killing you. God doesn’t care that overeating is a socially acceptable sin. He cares that you are turning to fried chicken for comfort instead of Him.

God’s Word helps us navigate life according to God’s clear vision rather than our cloudy emotions.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). Our emotions flip and flop and swell and fade like ocean waves in hurricane season.

God’s Word allows us to replace our thoughts with God’s thoughts. 

The Bible is a powerful distraction from strongholds. When tempted to turn to that besetting sin, we can fight the urge by replacing those temptation tapes playing in our heads with truth tapes.

How does that look in real life? We can’t just sit around with our Bibles in hand all day, but we can store up God’s Word through scripture memorization and strategically placed visual reminders.

Psalm 119:11 says, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV).

Ask God for a scripture or two that speaks to your specific struggle. Post it in the places where the struggle is most real.

  • If your stronghold is porn or some other media-oriented thing, post a sticky note on your computer or TV with a Scripture that reminds you of God’s heart on the matter. “Get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Ezekiel 20:7 NIV).
  • If your stronghold is food, post a sticky note on the fridge or pantry. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 NIV).
  • If your stronghold calls to you the most at a certain time of day, set an alarm on your phone for that time and name it, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
  • A spiral-bound book of index cards makes a perfect home for scriptures you are trying to memorize and mediate on. It’s small enough to keep in your purse or pocket, and you can pull it out and flip through it any time you need it. Sitting in parent pick-up or the drive-thru. On your lunch break or potty break. At the very moment when temptation hits you like a Mack truck, that notebook of truth can be your detour.

We express our faith when we turn our attention to God’s Word and away from our stronghold.

Essentially, we are saying, “God, you are bigger than this stronghold. There’s nothing You can’t do! Meet me here and fight for me as I battle to choose Your way over mine.”

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

God’s Word is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and worthy of our praise. Turning to God’s Word again and again and again strips our strongholds of their power.

Lord,

You are my path and my destination, and Your Word is the flawless map to show me the way. Show me in Your Word the scripture truths specific to my need. I want the mind of Christ, so I can live a life that pleases You. I don’t want any strongholds blocking my path to freedom. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN

How will you use God’s Word and the pray without ceasing life to demolish strongholds in your life? I’d love to hear how God’s Word is helping you walk in freedom.

 

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Strongholds Be Gone | Sermon Note Sundays

I went to the rodeo with my sis last night, and right before we arrived, the heavens opened and soaked the place. A nice downpour made the arena just right for barrel racing, but it made the dirt road into the place a sticky situation for the trucks and trailers. When we pulled up, a tractor was pulling someone’s rig out of the mud.

Being stuck stinks.

Those muddy spinning wheels flashed through my mind when I thought back on my pastor’s message today. Pastor Chuck wants to see his flock free of strongholds. He’s tired of seeing us stuck in the mud, spinning our wheels in sin. He’s tired of his own muddy issues, too.

He’s my favorite kind of pastor. The real kind.

So, what is a stronghold?

Well, according to good ol’ dictionary.com, a stronghold is “a well-fortified place; a fortress.”

That sounds pretty good to me. It sounds safe, secure, unshakeable. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who craves security.

God’s plan from the beginning was to be a stronghold for His people. He wants to be our safe place. Our unshakeable security.

David’s song from 2 Samuel 22:2-3 is the tune He wants all of us singing. Keep in mind, David sang this song right after being chased down like a dog by murderous Saul and his cronies.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me.

Unfortunately, we’re a stubborn, stupid lot. Rather than make ourselves at home in God and all He has to offer, we open ourselves up to invasion by the enemy of our soul.

We leave our heart’s door wide open and allow all kinds of false strongholds to build on our most priceless  real estate.

In Living Free, Beth Moore defines a false stronghold as “anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than our God.”

She goes on to say,

It steals our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether our stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that it strangles our abundant life. Our callings remain unfulfilled, and our believing lives become ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals.

So why do I keep getting stuck in the same old mud? Because I’ve been trying to pull myself out. Just like that stuck trailer needed a tractor to get out of that rodeo mud, I need my Savior to pull me out of mine.

Pastor Chuck only gave us one point today. One big fat whopper of a point.

The first step to demolishing strongholds is to surrender. To throw up our hands and say, “I can’t do this, Lord! But You can.”

And that’s my prayer today.

Lord,

I don’t know how I got so muddy when You’ve given me everything I need to live a pure and Christ-like life.

“[Your] divine power has given [me] everything [I] need for a godly life through [my] knowledge of [You] who called [me] by [Your] own glory and goodness. Through these [You have] given  [me Your] very great and precious promises, so that through them [I] may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

Forgive me for letting a bully build his clubhouse in my backyard. I can’t clear my own heart of these strongholds. These thoughts and habits that keep me stuck and distracted from the abundant life. My human effort just isn’t cutting it, Lord. I surrender. I look to You, and I see You handing me weapons from Your arsenal. And I see You fighting for me.

“For though [I] live in the world, [I] do not wage war as the world does. The weapons [I] fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. [I] demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and [I] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV).

No, I can’t do this, Lord. But You can. I take the first step right now. I surrender my needs to the hands of the one who can meet them. 

In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN

Did you join me in praying this “I surrender” prayer? I’d love to know so I can pray for you! Leave a comment, and be sure to come back next week for more about demolishing strongholds. 

 

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