The Lord is my Stronghold

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

Life here in this world is filled with trials and tribulations. It was not always that way, as when God created the Heavens and the earth He said it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) Then man fell by his choice to follow the tempter and eat from the forbidden tree. From that first sin the world has been cursed and sin reigned in death. (Romans 6:23) All of the upheaval in the natural order, all of man’s sickness and disease, and all of our trials and tribulations are the result of sin. This is the judgment upon man and the world for his disobedience to God’s Word. Through the Old Testament and into the New Testament God has been working His plan to restore man’s lost fellowship with Him. Man was created to glorify God and when man does not become what he was created to be he is not moving towards life but is dying with this world. “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

There are to avenues the follower of Jesus must take in order to enhance the ability to overcome the world. Prayer and faith are key essentials in the life of the Christian. Paul tells us that we are to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Prayer is as simple as talking things over with our Lord. But the Christian must remember to whom he is praying to. God is the Almighty Sovereign Lord of all His creation and deserves our reverent fear and respect. Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount gave us a model for reverent prayer in Matthew. (Matthew 6:9) Praying without ceasing is not seeking our quite time with the Lord only. It is being in constant companionship and conversation with Him in all that we do. (Matthew 6:33) Then there is our trust in His word and acting upon His Word in faith. We must believe that He is and that His Word is truth. To demonstrate our belief that He is when we act on faith trusting and obeying His Word. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah. His reign was between 715BC and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah and is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Messengers had revealed to King Hezekiah that the King Sennacherib of Assyria was coming to destroy the southern Kingdom of Judah. (2 Kings 19:10-13) When he received the message Hezekiah went to the Temple of the Lord to pray. In reverent fear Hezekiah envisioned God between the two cherubim and humbled himself and the Lord delivered Judah from the Assyrians. (2 Kings 19:15)

Moses was facing Amalek who was coming to fight against the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses ordered Joshua to go out with the army and meet Amalek and do battle with Him. Meanwhile Moses remained on the hill above the battle and prayed with his hands lifted toward the Heavens. Exodus 17:8-16 Moses was not in a sanctuary but out in the open ground much as we are for most of the day. We are to have our quite place of prayer, close intimate prayer with our heavenly Father. (Matthew 6:6) We cannot be running off to our prayer closet as often as we need His comforting wisdom. Our Father desires fellowship with us. Enoch walked with God. (Genesis 5:22) This means as he went about his day he was in constant prayer, communication, and constant fellowship with God. This is the example that we should follow. We cannot just have a quiet time in the morning and evening and ignore our closest friend throughout the day. How would you feel if you spent your day with a child of yours and that child never once acknowledged your presence?

Hezekiah went to the Temple to pray in his hour of need. It is here in the intimate quietness of God’s sanctuary that the believer comes to praise, worship, and become equipped and to lay His burdens at the feet of His Lord and master. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) It is here in His sanctuary that the battles of the spiritual war we are all involved in are won through the victory of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. “There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.” (Psalm 76:3) As we pray deliver us from evil He brakes the bow of Satan and he no longer can throw the flaming darts of temptation. For no temptation of the adversary can overcome us as the Lord will provide a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) In the power and authority if our Lord Jesus Christ we have this promise the not even the gates of Hades will prevail against His Church. (Matthew 16:18) In the spiritual conflicts of this and every age, the like will be seen; no weapon that is formed against the church shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against her in judgment, she shall condemn.

The world is ours to subdue and have dominion over. (Genesis 1:28) Because of the curse of the fall in the Garden of Eden we are in a fight that we alone cannot win. If we do not abide in our Lord we can do nothing to fight the battle against spiritual wickedness in high places. We can do nothing to harvest the good fruit from the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 125:5) In the world, out from the sanctuary, we must pray without ceasing, we must walk in the Spirit of Truth. (Galatians 5:25) We must be in fellowship with our Lord. Walking with Him in faith on His Word, the Word of truth.

There are two strongholds in life and we all fall into one of them. There is the stronghold that the influences to Satan has over mankind and there is the stronghold that the Lord can have over our lives. It is our choice as to which stronghold we are held to, as we have been given the gift of free will.

Many years ago when I was living on the farm in the great state of West Virginia, the Almost Heaven, I used to go and visit Logan Hodge who was a corn and pole bean farmer. Logan had two medium sized dogs, one white and one black, and they were constantly at war with each other. Logan had to keep then chained because if they were let loose they would fight certainly to the death.

It interested me that they would lay at the extent of their chains length and stare at each other growling and showing their teeth. I asked Logan what would happen if he let those dogs loose and he replied, “One would kill the other.” Being just a young boy that seemed interesting to me and I wondered if Logan would ever let them loose to go at it. Whenever I went to Logan’s I would ponder as to which dog would be the victor if they ever fought. I also realized that Logan never intended to let them fight it out, as he prized each one. So I asked him one day which one he thought would win in they ever fought? Logan did not even give any thought to the answer as he said. “Its simple boy, the dog I feed the most will win.”

Our stronghold in life, rather it be the black or the white dog, Satan or the Lord God Almighty, depends on which one we feed. All have battled evil strongholds in our lives and some are still in the battle. The victor will be the one of whom we feed into our hearts the most. Satan’s stronghold on the lives of men is an imprisonment that leads to destruction. Looking at the life behind, we can clearly see the deceitful lie of his temptations. The purpose of Satan is to destroy from God the recognition of glory from His creation. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) God is love and we can relate to Him in spirit for He is Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. God came in the flesh in the person of Jesus, to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) Man can feed on the lie of the Prince of this world or He can feed on the truth of God. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Which ever we chose to feed into our hearts will be the victor on the Day of the Lord. Is our lives to be led in a lie and in bondage to sin, to pay the debt of sin, which is death? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

It is hard to break away from the lie of this world. It is hard to break out of the devils stronghold in our lives. But if we stop feeding our heart of that lie and feed on the truth of God, feed on His Word those walls will come down. “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) On the cross of Calvary Jesus laid down His life that we might have life. For every choice that we make there is a consequence and we can have victory from the past choices made through the atoning blood of Jesus, our Savior. (1 Corinthians 15:57) When we accept the Christ into our life we are empowered by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Truth. Our bodies become His Temple. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) It is there from the throne of our heart that Jesus sits upon that the arrows, the shield, the sword, and the battle is won. “There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.” (Psalm 76:3) It is there in our heart that we can live in the truth of God’s Word no longer to give Satan the opportunity to establish his stronghold upon us. “And do not give the devil an opportunity.” (Ephesians 4:27)

We are living in a physical world traveling to a spiritual world. There is but a shot time here and then we will pass through the door of death, or be called out into the next world which is of the spirit. We must not be short sighted and tend to the fleshly matters of this world and not of the spiritual matters of the next. In the next world we each shall be judged on our deeds of the flesh and the only value is that of what is taken with us in the spirit. “And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” Revelation 2:23)

If our battle is in the flesh let us remember that it is a reflection of what is happening in the spirit. Our help comes from the spirit which is why we walk in the spirit. “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6) We will gain victory over the flesh by living in the spirit as our battle is not of the flesh. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) To live successfully we must walk in the Spirit of Truth and as hard as it is deny the desires of the flesh as they give opportunity to the devil. (1 John 2:16) Our weapons are not of the flesh but are of the spirit as the flesh is too weak to do battle against the spiritual forces. Our Lord said, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) As Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth that our weapons are not of the flesh but are of the Spirit which our “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) As Christians we have our defensive weapons, (Ephesians 6:13-17) but our greater offensive weapon “Sword the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) We must daily feed our heart on the manna from heaven, which is the Word of God.

Which dog, which stronghold in life, which one will win in our life. As Logan Hodge said to me one afternoon on a West Virginia farm. “Its simple boy, the dog I feed the most will win.” Study the Word of God, walk in the Spirit of Truth, and have victory through Jesus. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 11, 2014

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