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How To Demolish Strongholds

     In Joshua Chapter 6, the people of God had experienced some great success. They had overcome the barrier of the Jordan River that had kept them from God’s best for 40 years. The people look up and the next thing they see is Jericho – the Stronghold of the Enemy – the enemy’s strongest city with the highest and thickest walls. Many times in our lives when we experience spiritual breakthroughs, we encounter a STRONGHOLD from the enemy on the other side. Think about Elijah after Mt. Carmel. Think about the early church after Pentecost. Isn’t this the story of our lives and church? A spiritual breakthrough and a movement of God ALWAYS will get the attention of the enemy.

     A stronghold is an area of our life where we are vulnerable to enemy attack. We all have them. Yours could be language, pride, gossip, pornography, money, overworking, overeating, going with the crowd, wanting to please everybody all the time, giving in to peer pressure, guilt over your past, struggle with your self image, etc.

     The great news is that our God has the power to demolish these strongholds in our lives. By the end of Joshua 6, the stronghold was demolished, the enemy had been defeated, and the people experienced great victory. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says,

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 

      The question for us today is – HOW? How can I demolish a stronghold of the enemy in my life? How can I be victorious in the areas of my life where I am most vulnerable and tend to struggle with the most? The answer is in Joshua 6 along with the rest of Scripture – the people received a Word from the Lord, obeyed that Word, and persisted in that Word until the stronghold fell. For more information on Joshua 6, you can check out the sermon from February 4th on our Locust Hill Facebook Page or Church App.

       But I would like to discuss how strongholds fall in 2018. First, it begins with the Word of God (Ps. 119:105, 111; Heb. 4:12, 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21). When Satan tempted Jesus, each time our Lord responded with a Word from the Lord. Although Satan is a powerful adversary, he is NOT very creative. His primary strategy for erecting strongholds in our lives is simple – LIES (Gen. 3:4, John 8:44, Rev. 12:9-11). The ONLY way we can defeat the lies of the enemy is the TRUTH of God’s Word – the Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17)

     So then, what does this look like in real life? In order to demolish that stronghold, you need a Word from the Lord. Here are some examples. If you struggle with:

  • Language – Psalm 119:14, Eph 4:29
  • Pride : John 3:30
  • Gossip – James 1:26,4:11, Proverbs 16:28
  • Pornography – Mathew 5:27-28, 1 Cor 6:18
  • Money – Psalm 20:7, Matt 6:33
  • Overworking – Psalm 90:12
  • Overeating – 1 Cor 6:19-20
  • Worry – Phil 4:6-7, Matt 6:25-34
  • Past – Romans 8:1
  • Stress – John 15:5, Isaiah 40:31, Proverbs 3:5-6
     I know this sounds so simple and possibly ridiculous. But I promise that it is the key to moving forward in our spiritual lives. Try it out. If you don’t know a verse – ask someone or even Google it. Then, you obey the Word. Simply, you do what it says. But then you persist in that Word until the stronghold falls. What does that mean? It means that every time you are tempted in your area of vulnerability you turn to this Word. You put in on your mirror so you see it as you get ready every morning. You put it in your car and refer to it (not while you are driving – lol). You memorize it and quote it when you are tempted. Every time the devil tempts you – say this verse over and over to declare truth and defeat lies!

     Strongholds don’t fall by trying harder. They only fall through the power of the Living and active Word of God. Please share verses that have helped you demolish a stronghold in your life! It may be just what someone else needs.


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Snow Days in the South

     There is something very special about snow days in the south. I can say this as a life-long Southerner –  The condition of the roads is directly proportional to where you are headed. If you are headed to Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, or to ride around, the road looks pretty good. However, if you are headed to work, school, or church – that EXACT same road looks treacherous – haha!

    But you know, the greatest thing about snow days in the South is that it is a time when EVERYTHING shuts down. I mean think about it – there are a lot less things open on our snow days than on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Our world is FORCED to STOP and PAUSE for a few hours and we love them so much because:

  • we spend time with one another
  • we act like kids again – grown ups sled and make snow angels and snow cream.
  • It is like a mini-vacation. And it is wonderful!

    So here’s the question – Why do we wait for a once a year snowpacalypse to do the things that are most important in life?

     You know, God actually talks about the importance of taking time to REST like we do on SNOW DAYS. It is called The Sabbath. The word comes from the Hebrew verb shabbat , meaning “to rest from labor”. God instituted the principle in Genesis 2:2-3.  The first use of the actual word Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23. God gives further instruction on the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 and Leviticus 25:2-7. The Sabbath is a time to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), and to sit at His feet and listen to His Words (Luke 10:39). Jesus often modeled the principle of resting from work and spending time with God (Luke 4:42, 5:16, 6:12, 9:10, 9:18, 9:28, 11:1).
 
And then there’s us in America today:

 – In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.


 – According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”

 – For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to worsening health problems in the United States.Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report  by the National Center for Health Statistics

     The point that I believe God wants to make is very simple – We need to take more SNOW DAYS when there is no snow at all! Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” James 4:14 says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life is short. Don’t wait for 1-2 days a year to force you to do what we all should be doing all the time!

–  Invest in The Lord and your family.

 – Relax, Enjoy Life, Laugh, and act like a kid.

 – Slow down and make the most of every moment.

– Don’t allow the Devil to allow money or career advancement to cause you to miss out on the blessings and important things in life.
 
     So let’s get out there and enjoy this beautiful snow day in the South, but let’s don’t wait until next year to do the things in life that are most important!!

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A New Direction

     For me, the New Year always brings with it a clean slate, a fresh start, a time of reflection, and a time to set some new goals. In 2018, I would like to draw closer to The Lord than I’ve ever been. I am excited about leading a group to Nicaragua in July and The Holy Land in December. I want to get back into better physical shape since my herniated disc situation seems to have improved. How about you? What are your goals for 2018?

     I love the book of Joshua. It is a book about fulfilling God’s Vision and experiencing God’s Victory. In Joshua 1:2, God calls His people FROM a place of dryness, desperation, defeat, and death TO a place of vision, victory, and vitality. We have that same choice in 2018. Will we choose God’s plan or Satan’s place to live this year? The Lord showed me something in Joshua 1:1-2 that I believe has the potential to have great impact in your life as you begin this New Year. Verse 2 says, “Moses my servant is dead….”

     It could be that God desires that you START something in 2018. Moses had been an incredible leader of the Lord. He had led the people of God faithfully from Egypt out of bondage and to the banks of the Promised Land. But Moses disqualified himself in God’s eyes by taking the glory from God and giving it to himself (Numbers 20). Moses’ calling was complete but God was just getting started. Here’s the word – If we fail to do what God asks from us, God will move on and find someone else to do the job, but we will miss the blessing. For someone – you know God has given you an assignment but to this point you have failed to obey. It could be fear. It could be procrastination. You may feel unworthy. Maybe you’re just too busy. Could it be that God wants to say to you today – You either get on with it or I’ll find someone else, but either way My will is going to be accomplished. If you don’t start my assignment, you are going to miss My blessing in Your life.

     On the other hand, it could be that God desires that you STOP something in 2018. The people of God were having a hard time moving on. Deuteronomy 34:8 says, “The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.”  It’s hard to move on sometimes – especially when something is good. I mean we are talking about Moses here – the man wrote the first 5 books of the Bible, one of the greatest leaders in the history of the people of God. And so God comes and gets right to it – Moses is dead. Ouch. It’s time to STOP looking back. It’s time to start looking forward. And I wonder if there is an area of your life today where you are looking back? For some –it was a good thing. It’s like Moses. If it was good, our tendency in 2018 is to keep looking back to the good old days.

  • Your health was good
  • Your finances were good
  • Your marriage was good
  • You career was good
  • Your service for the Lord was good
  • Your testimony was good
  • Your class, your ministry was good.

 If we are not careful, we may spend another year thinking about the way things used to be

 

And then for others it wasn’t good. Your past brings up bad memories.

  • That mistake you made
  • That sin you committed
  • That failure
  • That low point
  • That crises
  • That dark place

But regardless, God wants to come to us oh so subtly today and say – That’s over. That’s in the past. The sooner you come to the realization of where you actually are in the present –the better.

Why?? Because I have something exciting for your future! I can’t do what I need to do in your future until you close the door on the past. I can’t write your next chapter until you put a period on the last one.

Stop focusing on that good thing. Stop focusing on that bad thing. Start focusing on the NEXT thing!!

We can LEARN from the past, but we can’t LIVE in the past!

Paul says in Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth;”

Sometimes we say, “I don’t know if I am ABLE.” Remember…..

Jacob cheated, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul committed murder, Gideon insecure, Miriam gossiped, Martha worried, Thomas doubted, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacchaeus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead.

So what’s our excuse? God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. God is not looking for our ability. He is looking for our availability. 
 
I truly hope that as you begin 2018 that this Word encourages you as it did me! 

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Christmas Blues

     As I looked at the faces across our congregation yesterday, I was reminded that “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, can be a pretty tough time for many families. Everywhere I looked I saw families that have been impacted by loss. For many, the loss involves grieving the death of a family member that won’t be part of the Christmas festivities this year. For others, this Christmas will represent the first holiday season that the family navigates a “new-normal”, and begins the healing of the broken hearts of a painful divorce. For still others, the empty plate at the Christmas table represents a family member that serves in the military, or a family member that has entered into a new phase of life.
     A close look into the Christmas story reveals the fact that if there was ever a couple that needed some encouragement, perhaps it was the parents of the Messiah on that first Christmas. In Mary, you have most likely a 14-15 year old girl that was full term, had traveled a long distance, and had just had a baby in a stinky barn with no anesthesia. Not to mention the fact that she wasn’t even married yet and that she had most likely let down her parents and friends. And then there’s Joseph. Everywhere he went he had to explain that this was God’s baby. Yeah right – that’s a likely story.

     How DID God encourage these parents, and how can we also be encouraged through the Christmas story? I mean, where was God anyway when these two were facing this incredibly painful season? We learn at least 3 things about God in this story.

      First, God stands BEHIND you with His PLANS (Isaiah 9:6-7). So the Christmas story gets started for Mary and Joseph in Luke 1:26. But God’s Christmas story got started a LONG time before that. 2000 years earlier in the book of Isaiah which is a book of HOPE in the midst of difficult times we have Isaiah 9:6-7. God’s plan was to have a child that would save all of mankind. So, although Mary and Joseph were caught by surprise, God had been planning on it for thousands of years! Although they didn’t know where this thing was headed, God had the whole thing planned. Although this didn’t go according to their plans, it went EXACTLY according to God’s plan. You can be encouraged by knowing that God was not surprised by what happened in your life this year!

     Second, God stands BESIDE you with His PRESENCE AND HIS PEOPLE (Lk 1:26, Mt. 1:20). God sent an angel to both Mary and Joseph in their lowest moments to encourage them. And He does the same for His children today. He will never leave you nor forsake you. The primary message of Christmas is that God loves you so much that He sent His Presence to enter into your world so that you could one day enter His! And then, God also sends His PEOPLE to stand beside Mary and Joseph in their trying time. At first, it is Elizabeth in Luke 1:39. This older woman encourages Mary in what God is calling her to do. And then God sends shepherds and Wise Men to validate the work of God in their lives. And then when Jesus is dedicated at the temple, God intersects the couple with Simeon and Anna to once again encourage these parents. At every stage, these parents find encouragement in people that God puts in their path. You can also find great encouragement in both His Presence and His people.

     Finally, God stands BEFORE you with His PROMISES! (Lk 1:31-37). The angel comes to Mary and looks into the future and says Mary – 

  • I see the future and you are going to have a baby boy
  • And his name is going to be JESUS
  • He is going to be very powerful and the Son of God
  • And he is going to rule and to reign forever
Although you can’t see it now, this painful process has a purpose. I’m going to use this trying time to bring great glory to God. I have already been to your future and have written the final chapter.

            So, where was God when this couple needed Him the most? He was behind them, beside them, and before them! And you can be encouraged today by knowing that the God of Angel Armies also stands behind, beside, and before you and your family in order to encourage during this Christmas season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Don’t Miss Christmas

        The Lord has put something on my heart this year that I hope may be valuable in your life and family. God’s desire for your Christmas this year is that you Encounter the Living One, Encourage the Hurting One, and Evangelize the Lost One.

God’s plan is all about PRESENCE – being there for Him, there for those that are hurting, and available to the lost.

         But Satan also has a plan for you this Christmas, and it is all about ABSENCE. Our enemy desires that we be distracted, discouraged, and that the name of Jesus be diminished.
         Luke 10:38-42 provides a great snapshot of the two available options. Verse 39 is the picture of an encounter with the Living One. Mary is still before the Lord. She is surrendered before the Lord. She is silent before the Lord. But notice the contrast in verse 40. Rather than being still, Martha was moving so fast she couldn’t focus on Jesus. Rather than being at his feet, she was on her feet out of touch with His will. Rather than listening for Jesus’ instructions, she was telling Jesus what He needed to do. Our Christmas will either look more like verse 39 or more like verse 40.
         There are at least 5 ways that Satan will attempt to cause you and your family to miss Christ this Christmas. The first is your

calendar. It is the tyranny of the urgent, and if we aren’t careful we will have time for everything except Jesus. The second is cash. There are additional expenses this time of year in an already tight budget. The third is criticism. Notice that Martha criticizes her sister in front of Jesus. Mary must have gotten the point by Martha’s huffing and puffing how she was feeling. If you are not careful you will allow the expectations of others or the criticism of others completely control your Christmas and you will make everyone happy except for The Lord. The fourth is change. It could be that your family is dealing with a divorce or the lost of a loved one, but either way the family table will look different this year. The fifth is culture. It’s very subtle and sneaky. Did you realize that out of the top 20 Christmas songs you will hear on the radio this year, that only 2 mention the name of Jesus? If we are not careful we can very easily replace the Nativity with Nostalgia, replace the Savior with a Season, and Replace the Holy for a mere Holiday.

         So, how can we avoid missing Christ this Christmas? How can we spend our Christmas in verse 40 and not verse 39? While I am certainly no expert, let me suggest a few ideas.First, “Just say NO”. Come on, you can do it I promise. Don’t overcommit this year. Second, “Spend Less”. How many times do we spend money we don’t have on gifts they don’t need for people we don’t like? We know it’s not God’s will to go into debt at Christmas. Don’t do it. It will be the gift that keeps giving all of next year. Third, “Get over it”. You can’t please everyone so stop trying. If you can look into the mirror and you have pleased the Lord – you have been faithful. Mary had to ignore Martha in order to please Jesus. You may have to do the same. Fourth, “Focus on what you have left”. Satan would have you and I to focus on what we don’t have, what we used to have, or what someone else has. God would have us focus on what we still have left. By no means am I saying – Forget about someone. I’m just saying – that person would not want you to miss this Christmas in grief but would want you to enjoy this Christmas with those still around the table. Fifth, Make the Decision. This Christmas, I REFUSE to allow my calendar, cash, criticism, change, or culture cause me to miss my CHRIST!

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Parenting 101

     Don’t you wish sometimes that children came with an instruction manual? Raising godly children in this un-godly society can seem like a daunting task! We have 3 kids, ages 12, 8, and 3 at three different schools and each facing different challenges. And just when you think you have this whole parenting thing down, the next child changes all of the rules –lol.

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Do you Need a Healing Touch from The Lord?

     As many of you know, for the past four months I have been dealing with a large re-herniation of a disc in my back at L5-S1. Since July, I have been continually on 3 different medicines, and had 3 spinal injections. During this process, I have prayed consistently for God to heal this, and if at all possible that I might not have a second back surgery. I long to cry out as David did in Psalm 30:2, “O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And you healed me.”  The Lord has taught me a great deal during this time that I hope might encourage you today.


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A Season of Thanks

Would you be willing to participate in a Season of Thanks this month? The goal is simply to read 5 Psalms per day, and therefore to finish the book of Psalms in the month of November. The Psalms have been such a source of encouragement to my heart through the highs and lows of life.


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