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Jan 12, 2020

Conquering Strongholds

Conquering Strongholds

Speaker: James Gallaher

Category: Sunday Morning

Learn what to do and how to keep moving when our perspective contradicts God's promise.

Let's continue our study in Joshua and face this year of movement both for our church and for us personally. Have you ever been moving towards a promise and then a huge obstacle comes to block the way - a stronghold? What does it mean to conquer these strongholds? 

Joshua was the commander and leader of Israel but at this point, he was alone and outside the enemy's territory. In moments that require group thinking and strategy, Joshua was alone. Jericho stood at a place that had to be conquered - a blockade. Israel was so close to the promise that awaited but were faced with a weighted obstacle.

Joshua 5:13-15 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Alone before the Lord - Joshua made a habit of this. Moses had trained Joshua what it was like to seek the Lord. There is only one place to turn when we are faced with strongholds - alone and with God. Joshua fell on his face as he had an expectation that the Lord would say something to him. 

We pursue God but then tend to fill that time with our words instead of seeking His words that will bring breakthrough. We need to sit and listen. Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. We serve a God who sent His own Son to restore a relationship with us. So, we can expect that He would speak to us. We need to get back to expecting God to speak into our strongholds. Seek and pursue until He shows up.

As we move towards a promise, a huge obstacle can come to block the way - a stronghold. What does it mean to conquer strongholds? Jericho wasn't going to fall on the strength of Israel. God was going to have to move if Israel was going to move into the promised land. Joshua didn't give the Israelites the plan all at once but one day at a time. Does that feel like our stronghold? Again today, Lord? Forgiveness strongholds? Strongholds in a marriage? in finances? circling the same problems every day? before the Lord every day asking for what's next? Leaning on the promises waiting for a breakthrough? God wants us to continue to faithfully walk. 

Joshua 6:1-2 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men." 

Verse 1 and 2 seem out of place - backward. Verse 1 - Jericho was barred shut yet verse 2 says "see." God wants Joshua to look with his spiritual eyes. Clarity comes when we shut our eyes and shut out distractions of the world and allow God to speak to us. 

When Perspective Contradicts the Promise. What do you do when . . . what you see is not anything like God has promised? when nothing shows promise? when prayers go unanswered? when perspective contradicts the promise of God? Let God speak about things that are beyond what we see in front of us. We have a choice to believe the promise or whether we believe what we see with our own eyes. Our enemy can use problems to block the view of the promise. Jericho was the block - the insurmountable block. Sometimes to be victorious means that you have to do something ridiculous - that doesn't make sense.

Progress isn't always obvious. For six days nothing happened as they marched around the city. Six days of no progress; six days of no relief; six days of wandering with no perceivable end in sight. Every day was a new day to trust and to keep moving; every day was a new day to make a decision to lean in; every day was a new day to allow Him to develop us. It is so important for us to not lose sight of the promise. We need to believe more in the promise than our perspective. Scripture doesn't record that one person complained in the process. We need to shut up and march.

  • Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
  • Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down. 

Faith isn't faith if I can do it on my own. Faith brought down the walls but not right away. 

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Hindsight is good but we don't have it on our stronghold. We want to see that God is doing something, like letting a few bricks of the wall fall each day. Progress isn't always obvious in our strongholds. We think nothing is happening but God is waiting for us to be ready. A lot of battles were ahead of the Israelites. God was setting a pattern for trust in the six days. The less sure of our ability to get through our stronghold, the more glory God will get when He tears it down. God's purpose was to convince them that only He could do it. Then they couldn't help but give God the glory. Every time around, strongholds seem more dire, more broken, more hopeless...but don't quit. God never leads us into places he hasn't already provided the victory. Seek Him first. Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This is a great love story - that Israel would become solely dependent on God's provision and get to a place of giving glory to God was undeniable. When their praise went up, the walls came down.

Be strong in the Lord, seek Him when nothing is happening; know that He is not finished with us; keep moving when don't see anything happening; continue to forgive; continue to trust; continue to pray. God is doing something - keep walking and pursuing Him - breakthrough is coming! Begin with more time alone with God. Keep moving even when it seems nothing is changing!

1. What is a stronghold in your life? Why is it hard to believe that God is working?

2. Where is God moving in your life? 

3. How can we lean into expecting God to answer? 

If you were to die tonight, do you know without any doubt that you would be in Heaven for eternity? Here is a simple prayer: 

Dear Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I believe that on that cross You took my guilt, my sin, and my shame and You died for it. You faced hell for me, so I wouldn't have to. And You rose again to give me a place in Heaven, a purpose on Earth, and a relationship with Your Father. Today, Lord Jesus, I turn from my sins to be born again. And now, God is my father, Jesus is my Savior, The Holy Spirit is my helper. And Heaven is my home. Amen.