Archive for February, 2016

Strongholds That Hinder Our Prayers

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The word translated “strongholds” in this passage also means “fortresses or to make firm.” Just like military forts are established in firm places such as hilltops, Satan also attempts to establish strong forts in our minds to hold our thought life captive.

Paul defines strongholds as arguments, pretensions, or thoughts that set themselves against the knowledge of God. Any beliefs entrenched in our own thinking and are contrary to God’s revealed truth are Satan’s strongholds. It is these strongholds that hinder  our prayers.

Satan’s strongholds fill our minds with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and failure. These are thoughts that tell us there is not hope for our current situation so why should I bother to pray…not even God can help me out of this mess. All strongholds make us doubt God and His power.

Consider these strongholds and Scriptures to counter attack these thoughts:

• My husband is hopeless. He’ll never change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

• I’m just a carnal person. I’ll never be free from lust. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

• I’m getting older…I feel so useless.  Feebleness and disease are inevitable. Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

STRONGHOLDS in the mind are formed three different ways…as arguments, as pretensions, and as thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God.

1. Strongholds that are arguments contrary to the knowledge of God…these are not arguments with other people, but they are battles that go on in our minds and draw conclusions by our reasonings.

2. Strongholds that are pretensions contrary to the knowledge of God…these are when we exalt our own reasoning over God’s divine revelation and depend more on our own reasonings.

3. Strongholds that are thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God. This same word is used in 2 Corinthians 2:11 and refers to Satan’s schemes…these are thoughts that we allow Satan to plant into our minds and deceive us into thinking that they are own thoughts…but they are really thoughts against God’s will.

These strongholds are formed by:

• Justifying or reasoning situations of life without looking to God for guidance.
• Drawing our own conclusions without consulting God’s Word for validation.
• Setting our rationalizations above God’s revealed will in Scripture.
• Devising schemes for handling life situations contrary to seeking God’s purposes for living.

These strongholds can hinder our prayer lives by turning us into double-minded people. We, on one hand, profess to live by the authority of God’s Word, yet at other times, we allow our lives to be directed by our own human reasonings. Our double-mindedness tries to balance our competing agendas. We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,”

Neil Anderson says, “Double-mindedness determines to have a Plan B of human reasoning to fall back on in case the Plan A of God’s revealed will doesn’t come through. As long as we hold a Plan B in reserve, we’re not able to pray with faith and confidence for God’s Plan A to come through. Double-mindedness leads to instability and weakness and makes us unstable in our faith and ineffective in our prayers. Much is at stake when we try to embrace God’s agenda without letting go of our own.”

Our only weapon to break a stronghold is God’s Word. Jesus used the Word of God as a weapon to defeat the “schemes, devices, reasonings” of the devil in the wilderness. With each of the devil’s suggestions to Jesus, he included a reason why Jesus should act upon his suggestion. He tried to use human reasoning to build a stronghold in Jesus’ mind.

James gives us four steps to demolish strongholds in our minds:
James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

First Step: Submit to God…by submitting to God’s will and acknowledging His Word in our lives, we are more able to resist the devil.

Second Step: Resist the devil…by exposing Satan’s lies with God’s Truth and exercising our authority over him with God’s Word, we are commanding Satan to move over and make way for God’s will.

Third Step: Draw near to God…by drawing nearer to God in worship and resisting the devil, two things will happen…God’s will becomes stronger to us, while Satan’s strongholds become weaker.

Fourth Step: Be spiritually cleansed…by using God’s Word in prayer to spiritually cleanse our hearts, we can confidently enter God’s Holy Place with clean hearts to pray and to worship Him.

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God’s Timing Is Not Always Our Timing

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to answer them and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him.

God has a plan for each one of His children, and He wants what is best for them. He always answers prayers in three ways … No … Yes… and… Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before God gives us the desires of our hearts. It is our human nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength.

The following story is a great illustration about how a little boy tried to help the caterpillar become a butterfly.

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life..in the pit…in the prison, and in Potipher’s palace, God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther! God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what is best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing.

Poem: The Unanswered Prayer

Years ago, I remember praying, “Lord, make me more like You.”   Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God began sending deep trials to our family and church. I remember thinking, “Why, Lord?”  It was not until  reading this poem  during my Quiet Time  that I began to understand the purpose of those trials. God was just answering my prayer, “Lord, make me more like You.”

The Unanswered Prayer
She asked to be made like her Savior;
He took her right at her word,
And sent her a heart crushing burden
That the depths of her soul was stirred.

She wanted a meek lowly spirit—
The work He gave answered that cry,
Till some who had once been companions,
With a pitying smile passed her by.

She asked to lean hard on the Savior,
He took the human props quite away,
Till no earthly friend could give comfort
And she could do nothing but pray.

She had prayed to be made like the Savior,
And the burdens He gave her to bear
Had been but the great  Sculpter’s teaching;
To help answer her earnest prayer.

—- Publisher Unknown