WHAT KIND OF JOY WAS ANOUNCED TO THE SHEPHERDS?

Nobleton Community Church December 17, 2023
Third Sunday of Advent
Text: Psalm 126; Philippians 4:4-7
Pastor Paul V. Lehmann

My friend and former colleague David Ens, who was a missionary in Paris, France when we were there, tells about a Cambodian refugee girl named Chanta, who was a single parent and lived in an apartment complex called Camembert where she lived with her three sons. The structure is so called because it resembles two wheels of camembert cheese on their sides.

The complex is located in the section of Paris called Noisy le Grand, close to a major shopping mall. It was from here one winter that Chanta was returning home with her hands full of groceries, on this day it was a typical winter day in Paris, which usually means wind and rain that sometimes turns to sleet. She had her umbrella but it was hard to hold against the wind. From the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a dark-complexioned youth in the shadow of an archway. She passed by, thinking he was simply seeking shelter from the drizzle. Then, the sound of footsteps and Chanta felt her purse being wrenched from her grasp. Au secours! (“Help”) she screamed as the boy ran off. Two would-be Samaritans took chase. But they soon returned with nothing to offer but their condolences. Tearfully Chanta made her way back to her apartment. Gone were the documents which were so important that gave her the legal right to be in France. Gone were her credit cards, her money, her checkbook, her expensive new prescription glasses and her house keys.

Fortunately she had left the boys at home and would be able to gain entry. This was little comfort, however, knowing that she had no way to have another key made and a replacement lock would cost nearly
$300. As Chanta rode the elevator to the sixth floor she called out to the only One she knew could really help her—Jesus. Only He could

set things right. After putting the groceries away and the children to bed, she retired for the night.
The next day, Chanta made her way to the police station to report the theft. While she gave her report, the desk sergeant was interrupted to book two young men arrested for possession of stolen goods. Among the incriminating evidence in their possession were two of Chanta’s credit cards. Thank you, God, “she prayed quietly as the officer handed her the cards.
Back at home, Chanta was informed that the train station had called. They were holding her purse and her keys. Again, she thanked God. One more call came that day from the caretaker of a nearby apartment complex. He explained that, while cleaning the grounds, he had found her identification papers and two checkbooks. Chanta raced to reclaim these precious items, her heart full of joy. Truly her Savior had come through for her again.
That evening she took inventory of what had been lost and what had been found. The cash was gone and so were her precious glasses. She would need to reorder them and perhaps even be required to have her eyes tested again. The following day, at the optometrist’s office, Chanta was pleased to find that her test results were still in the computer and she had only to order new glasses. She cringed as she paid for them though, but it had to be done. Now she only needed to wait the week or so before she could pick them up.
During that week Chanta had the opportunity to tell her story at her Cambodian Evangelical Church in Marne la Valee. The congregation joined their prayers with hers.
One week had gone by since the robbery. Chanta was at home when the phone rang. A Frenchman identified himself and asked if she was Madame Noun Chanta. When she confirmed this, he went on to say that a pair of glasses had been turned into the lost and found at the mall and that from the receipt inside the case, they had traced them through the optometrist back to her.
Chanta ran to the office to make her claim. Another brief prayer of praise. With her glasses back in her possession she realized there

was now no need to order—and pay for—the new pair. When the clerk agreed to refund her money, Chanta breathed yet another “thank you” to the Lord.
The following Sunday she gave her testimony in church for what Jesus Christ had done for her. Everyone was reminded of John 16:24 which says; Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
How often do we fret and worry when something like this happens, instead of praying and trusting, moving forward with what we need to do, but not allowing our circumstances to affect our inner joy. When we trust God our joy increases even more when he answers our prayer. Certainly receiving your I.D. papers and credit cards are a big deal in France, especially for someone who is not a citizen. The miraculous way that Chanta got these back is a cause for JOY.
Our problem is, even though we know better in our hearts, as Christians, we still depend on good happenings to make us “happy.” We still believe that it takes happy things to make us happy, and we still confuse that with inner joy, that only Jesus Christ can give.
The fact is, that often our joy comes, when we suffer the most. We experience the effect of the suffering, with joy after the trial is over, but the truth is, for the Christian we have the joy in our hearts, in our inner being already—through the suffering.
The Greek word for “joy” is derived from the word for grace. This is important to note, for it tells us categorically that joy is produced by God’s grace. This means “joy” isn’t a human based happiness that comes and goes. Rather, true joy is divine in origin, a fruit of the Spirit that is manifested particularly in hard times. Someone may feel happiness, exuberance, excitement or be in “high spirits,” but all of these are fleeting emotions. On the other hand, “joy” is a Spirit-given expression that flourishes best, when times are strenuous and stressful, daunting and tough!
In the example that we have in First Thessalonians 1:6, the Thessalonians were under great stress due to persecution; yet in the midst of it all, they continued to experience great JOY. In fact, the Greek strongly implies that their supernatural joy was due to the Holy

Spirit working inside them. Paul even called it the “JOY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
I like the interpretive translation of this passage that Rick Renner gives us:
“You throw your arms open wide and gladly welcomed the Word into your lives with great enthusiasm. And you did it even in the midst of mind-bobbling sufferings—a level of stress and intensity that would be suffocating and crushing for most people. But while you were going through all these hardships and hassles, you were simultaneously experiencing the supreme ecstasy and joy of the Holy Spirit.”
In our text that we read from Psalm 126, we see that when the Lord restored his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream to them because they were filled with laughter, and they sang for joy.
Now the Holy Spirit was not yet given to be in them, but the joy was still supernaturally supplied to them in their singing. In verse 3, they recognized that the Lord had done amazing things for them!—What Joy!
God is able to restore our joy, when we are not experiencing it like we would want to. Our tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of tragedy. When burdened by sorrow, know that your times of grief will end and that you will again find joy. We must be patient as we wait. God’s great harvest of joy is coming! Remember; “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”
Jesus reassured his disciples in John 16:1-33, that he was going to be taken from them for a short time, and then they would see him again. He was referring to his death, and then his resurrection. He said to them that they would weep and mourn over what is going to happen to Him, but the world will rejoice. (Now the world still rejoices, every chance they get to eliminate Jesus, even the name of Jesus), but here he tells the disciples that their anguish will turn to wonderful joy when they will see Him again. He is not talking about His second coming, but when they saw Him after He rose from the dead. He said that; “ You have sorrow now, but I will see you again then you will

rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name.” He points out to them that they haven’t done this before. Then he says: “ Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have ABUNDANT JOY.
You see, when we ask our heavenly father in prayer for what is on our hearts, –in the name of Jesus—this should give us much joy. But I’m afraid that too often, we don’t experience any joy when we pray. We just go through the motions, or repeat prayers because we think it is our duty to pray.
C.S. Lewis described joy in his book “Surprised by Joy” as:” an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it, would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.”
We can manipulate circumstances to our own advantage to obtain what we think will bring happiness, or expend great efforts in pleasure-seeking, but joy is entirely free. You cannot earn it, buy it or deserve it. It is a divine gift to receive rather than a selfish goal to pursue. The opposite of joy is not sadness or sorrow but anxiety.
Jesus encouraged his followers by saying; “do not worry about your life.” Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” He tells them to consider the joy of the birds who sing for joy, or the flowers in their glory, and if the Lord of the universe clothes creation with such extravagance, then we can rejoice in his love regardless of our circumstances. Jesus says that we rest in God’s love so that our joy may be in us, and that our joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
We see that the joy that was announced by the angels—“I bring you good news of great joy” is intertwined with peace and love. We will talk more about God’s LOVE next week for our fourth Sunday of Advent.
In closing today, remember that the best that the lost world has to offer is a temporary happiness. But when the seed of God has been placed inside your human spirit, that divine seed produces a ‘joy” that isn’t based on outward events or circumstance. In fact, when
times get very challenging, the supernatural life of God rises up inside you to defy that awful pressure! This supernatural “JOY” will sustain you in even the hardest of times!

Church Hours of Operation

—Sunday
0930/ bible study at the fellowship hall
1045/ worship service

—Tuesday
0900/ ladies crafts in the fellowship hall

—Wednesday
0900/ quilting in the fellowship hall

—Thursday
1500/ hour of power prayer meeting

WHY DON’T WE HAVE PEACE?

Nobleton Community Church
December 10, 2023
Text:John 14:18-27 Verse 27
Pastor Paul

Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

This promise of the Savior sank into his people’s hearts. From the first, inward peace, peace of conscience and of spirit, was valued as among the choicest possessions of the members of Christ’s Church. They gave their children names such as Irenaeus and Irene, which signify simply “peace.” In the course of their communion services it was their custom to greet one another with the salutation, “Peace be with you!” In the catacombs of Rome may still be read on many a Christian’s tomb the brief but touching inscription, “In pace” (Latin for (“In peace”). So in doing so they valued the gift and legacy of their beloved Lord.

I. THERE IS IN HUMAN LIFE MUCH THAT IS FITTED TO DISTURB AND TO DESTROY PEACE.

The short answer to the question: “Why don’t we have peace?—is SIN

  1. Looking back to the past, many are troubled at the retrospect of their own errors, follies, and sins.
  2. Looking round upon the present, many cannot fail to discern in their actual circumstances occasions of distress and alarm.
  3. Looking forward to the future, anxious minds are perturbed by forebodings and fears.

II. THE WORLD IS POWERLESS TO IMPART OR TO RESTORE PEACE TO THE TROUBLED HEART. The consolations of the world are delusive, its promises deceptive.

  1. There may well be here a reference to the ordinary greetings of the East. “Peace!” is the common salutation, and has been from time immemorial. Like all such greetings, it often was and is altogether thoughtless and insincere. Our Lord’s “peace” is something quite different.
  2. But there is a deeper reference. to the pretense of peace as given by the world, to which no reality corresponds. The world says, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Superficial, deceptive, and utterly false, is that insensibility to terrible realities. The world thinks: “Can’t we all just get along.?” What people mean when they say that, or at least think that is: “Why can’t you just believe and think like I do”. The fact is no one thinks or acts the same. We have personalities that are different and that affects the way we act. We have different backgrounds, cultural influences, and beliefs that are different so that also affects the way we act. For the Christian and Jewish people: we have the Bible which also should affect how we think, believe, and act. It used to be that universities encouraged different discussions and viewpoints about many things, but today, there are no discussions of different opinions. If you don’t agree with the professor’s, opinion, or the prevailing, progressive, liberal opinion, you are put down even shouted down, censored, and not allowed to even respond on written essays and papers with your opinion if it doesn’t correspond with what is being taught, Especially if you expect to receive a passing grade, let alone an A.

There is anything but peace on college campuses today, and the true feelings of others outside of the college scene is also coming to light with statements and rhetoric of antisemitism. There are very vocal opinions expressed that call for a cease fire; for Israel to stop their attacks on “Palestine.” In reality, Israel is defending herself because of the attacks by Hamas. We won’t get into all that is being said— I believe you are aware of what is going on. All of this reflects attitudes of what constitutes PEACE.

We are told in Psalm 122:6 “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”

This prayer for peace is talking about security within the walls of Jerusalem. This is an Old Testament understanding of PEACE. However, we should continue to pray for Israel to have this peace. But the New Testament understanding of PEACE that Jesus talks about is a spiritual PEACE WITH GOD. Blessed are the peacemakers. Those who aren’t prone to violence. Those who don’t try to take revenge. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, just before he was arrested. He wept over Jerusalem. In Luke 19:42 we read: “ If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—-but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Here he is talking about individual and collective peace given to believers in Him. The nation of Israel always had individual believers who put their faith and trust in God, they consisted of a faithful remnant, which continued through the centuries, before and after the coming of Jesus. It is still true today that Messianic Jews, who have put their faith and trust in Jesus, understand how doing that reconciles them to God, and brings them PEACE with him.

III. CHRIST’S PEACE, AND HIS ALONE, IS VALID AND LASTING.

  1. This is spiritual peace. It is not to be supposed that the Christian is exempt from the cares and the calamities of life, that outward circumstances and human society are all to combine in order for his preservation from the troubles which are incidental to human life. But there may be calm within even while the storm rages without. The heart may be so free from fear.
  2. This peace proceeds from the restoration of right relations between us and God. It is peace of conscience, the substitution of harmony with the government and the will of God for that state of discord which is the experience of our nature that is alienated from the eternal Ruler of all. To be right with God is the first condition of human peace. Such concord it is the work of the Redeemer to bring about.
  3. This peace is both a bequest and a gift of Christ. It is a legacy, because it was dependent upon the Lord’s departure, and the subsequent establishment of a spiritual dispensation. It is a gift, because apart from the Savior’s provision there was no means by which this blessing might be secured and enjoyed. The peace in question is not to be earned by any effort or sacrifice of ours; it is the bestowment of the infinite love and grace of the Divine Mediator.
  4. This gift is essentially what Jesus had, and He is the one who bestows it. The peace which he enjoys he also imparts. That peace which flows from obedience and submission to the Divine will, was naturally the proper possession of the Son of God; and it is that same peace which Jesus conveys to the heart that trusts and rests in him.
  5. The peace of Christ is all-sufficient. In plenitude and in perpetuity. His peace alone allows us to be reconciled to God. His peace alone provides forgiveness for our sins. His peace alone is the only hope for the world to find PEACE.

“The world can neither give nor take away God’s peace,

Nor can they comprehend,

The peace of God which Christ has brought –

The peace which knows no end.”

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us from our sin, he gives us peace with God, which escapes us when we seek peace in any other way but through Jesus.

If you are enslaved by fear; Trust in Christ and have peace

Are you apprehensive about serving the Lord, and doing what he has called you to do?—Trust in Christ and you will have peace.

Do you feel alone?–, Trust in Christ and you will never feel alone. He has promised to be with us always and forever and give us peace.

The Old Testament followers of God, longed for PEACE. Many missed their opportunity to have peace when Jesus was on this earth, but before he ascended into heaven, he told his disciples and us, that we don’t have to be troubled and we don’t have to be afraid.

Jesus promised a Helper, Counselor, and Advocate,–the Holy Spirit. And he left them PEACE.. WHY DON’T WE HAVE PEACE?

Because we haven’t received the Prince of Peace into our lives, or we have accepted him as our Savior, but we haven’t allowed the Holy Spirit, to give us peace, because we haven’t trusted him to take us through all circumstances. Our enemy Satan, wants us to allow sin to go unconfessed, and unforgiven (that’s what happens when we don’t ask the Lord to forgive us). May we respond to Jesus and receive his peace in our hearts today

Church History

2023/ In January of this year, a Facebook page was created for the church

2003/ 75th anniversary

2000/ Nobleton streets repaved

1986/ first full-time pastor (Rev. Melvin Pederson)

1979/ fellowship hall built

1978/ 50th anniversary

1977/ plans made for social center

1976/ entrance to the church on Croom road changed to Second St. to face north

1963/ 35th anniversary

1947/ garage built by donated labor

1941/ parsonage next door willed to the church

1928/ march 18th new church building dedicated

1927/ 600 dollars paid for lot for church on 11/18

1926/ Dr John D. C. Hanna, a retired minister who had come south for his health arrived in Nobleton. he responded to the community’s need for church services and held an hour of worship in an empty cottage. since several denominations were represented, membership was based on the creed:

–“I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and lord and will endeavor so to live that the world may be better and brighter for my stay”

–this is still displayed on the wall of the church

–17 members became charter members in November


1925/ Harry Nobles began a development and called it Nobleton. Within a year, 90 houses had been built, streets were graded and a water system was installed. Soon afterward, came a grocery store, hardware store, and a lumber yard. he expected 120 families to arrive by early 1926 and was building an average of 15 houses each month

–(see bkvl. herald: 9/24/1925 – 1/14/1926 and 1/21/1926)

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

Nobleton Community Church
October 1, 2023
Text: Matthew 12:22-37
Pastor Paul

After Jesus delivered the man who was blind and mute from the demons that were demonizing him, and the man was healed and restored to health, the people were saying; “Could this be the Son of David?” That would be the Messiah. They were acquainted with Isaiah 35:4-5. In this Messianic passage verse 4 we read; “…he will come to save you, then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

The Pharisees refuse to see it.

The common people see the true meaning of scripture, because the are not approaching it with pride, fearful of what they will lose if Jesus is truly the Messiah.

They will lose their power and control over the people. The explanation of the Pharisees is: “He does this miracle in the power of Beelzebub (the prince of devils).This was the attitude of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of Rabbis and Jewish leaders today too. There is a Rabbi in Brooklyn, New York who is convinced that the evidence shows that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was their Messiah, but he says he will never declare it because he has too much to lose. His position and reputation in the Jewish community is at stake. In Jesus’ time there was only one Phaisee we are told about, who was willing to risk his reputation in order to learn more about what Jesus was teaching. Well, not too willing, because he came to Jesus at night, probably because he didn’t want anyone to see him, but at least he came. We read in John 3:1-21 the account of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. When Jesus told him that he had to be born again, he was confused. He said how can a man who is old be born again. How can I enter again into my mother’s womb. Jesus was astonished, and said to him. You are a leader in Israel and you don’t understand about spiritual things. When the wind blows you can hear it blow, and even see movement on the leaves in the tree, but you can’t see where the wind is coming from nor where it is going, spiritually speaking. Nicodemus was open to hearing these things that he had never heard before. We don’t know for sure, if he received Christ into his life, but the indication here is that he did. John 19:36-41, we read that he is the one who helped Joseph of Arimathea to get permission from Pilate to take Jesus down from the cross and place him in his tomb.

The other Pharisees refused to see it, just like a lot of people today who refuse to receive Jesus into their lives.

Jesus responds by saying to them: “You charge me with casting out demons by the prince of demons; have you not eyes with which to see that when I cast out demons it is a proof that I have already laid my conquering hand upon the master of demons; that instead of working by his power I am working as the result of having overcome his power, that I have entered into the house of the strong man and bound him and therefore am able to enter his house? “

The picture of the strong man is taken from Isaiah 49:24-26. We read: “Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce? Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save… “

The binding of the strong one was brought out by the perfection of Christ. Not merely by virtue of the death of Jesus, but by the virtue of his pure humanity (his sinlessness) he was able to bind the strong one, and so was able to enter his house, (so to speak), and carry off his possessions.” As man, he overcame the enemy in personal temptation, bound him, because he didn’t ever sin. And so he was able to invade Satan’s territory.

God’s children who have entered into his victory by the cross, also know something of what it is to bind the strong one.

We have his authority as believers, (as we talked about last week). His cross is the force that sets us free to “enter the house” of the so-called strong one -Satan, and rescue souls, (ourselves included).

WE CAN HAVE VICTORY OVER SATAN

There is no addiction that people get bound by, that Jesus can’t bring deliverance.

JESUS SAYS IN VERSE 30; “HE WHO IS NOT WITH ME IS AGAINST ME, AND HE WHO DOES NOT GATHER WITH ME SCATTERS.”

What is he saying? The truth is that Jesus was antagonistic to everything Satan did or tried to do. Both when Jesus walked this earth, and also today. He had cast the demon out of a man, and so had gathered him back into a unified and balanced life. He had gathered him back to his family, and to the family of God. It was Satan that had scattered.

A distinction must be made between good and evil in all logical thinking. The Pharisees were tying to confuse the issue—to confuse the people

Jesus, the one who proclaimed that the main meaning of his mission, the main reason he had come was to seek and to save the lost. (he declared this in verse 32. Then he says;

Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. This is the passage that is referred to as the UNPARDONABLE SIN.

What is being said here, and what is not being said? What has to happen before this sin is committed?

He is saying that there is and attitude of the heart that results in hopelessness or indifference

Usually the hopeless feeling is not valid, but often indifference may mean that a person has rejected Christ so long that they are no longer convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and therefore may not be able to respond to Christ.

We must understand this in order to not put any untrue emphasis on these words, and also in order that we may not minimize their terrible meaning. We are in danger of making both these mistakes.

These words are a warning not a sentence. We shouldn’t assume that the Pharisees had committed the unpardonable sin, but they had come close. Not all the Pharisees were against Jesus. In John 3 we see the account of Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, (probably because he didn’t want to deal with is colleagues and their anger or ridicule.) Nicodemus has and open heart, but lacked understanding about the new birth.

This is true of a lot of people today. A person may be very “religious” like the Pharisees, but not have a personal relationship with God. They may have never been born of the Spirit like Jesus is talking about. They have never been born again.

NOW WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE WARNING IN THIS PASSAGE?

Jesus is teaching that in the casting out of the demons, it is only by the Spirit of God. Otherwise they are working against themselves. By saying that he did this by the power of Satan, they were denying that it was done by the Spirit of God or by God’s power. This meant that they were refusing the Kingdom of God. In the presence of the demonstration of this power of that Kingdom, they were refusing it. This is why we must be careful about some of the things we see in other peoples lives or ministry, that we automatically think it is of Satin, when it is outside of our experience. This may be assigning something done by the Holy Spirit to Satan. That can be the sin against the Hooy Spirit which has no forgiveness if it be ultimately and finally persisted in.

1) The sin against the Holy Spirit is the ultimate refusal to believe on the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus Christ.

2) The sin against the Holy Spirit is only committed by someone who persistently refuses the convicting power of the Spirt to draw them to Christ.

If you have ever worried about it being too late for you, that you can’t be saved, or that God has given up on you, then you haven’t committed the unpardonable sin!

Verse 34 has some harsh words for those who would continually resist the Spirit —He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” A nest of venomous snakes, a metaphor for someone who is treacherous. He says;

“You who are evil, how can you say anything that is good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Verse 36 says; “But I tell you that man will have to give account on the day of judgment, for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”.

Let’s repent of words that come out of our mouth that doesn’t glorify Jesus Christ. They may not be blasphemy, but if your life style is to forever turn you back on the conviction by the Holy Spirit, and His drawing you back to himself, someday your heart could be hardened so much that you are no longer convicted about what you say or what you do. “Repent” turn around today, (that’s what the word means). Don’t continue to reject him and his kingdom. Don’t reject him as your King, as your Lord in your heart. Let him have control. Listen to the Holy Spirit when he speaks to you.

It is impossible to be neutral about Jesus Christ. Anyone who is not actively following him has chosen to reject him. Any person who tries to stay neutral in the struggle against good and evil, is choosing to be separated from God, who alone is good.

To refuse to follow Christ is to choose to be on Satan’s team .

CHOOSE JESUS

DESTROYING STRONGHOLDS

Nobleton Community Church
September 24, 2023
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
Pastor Paul

When Jesus died on the cross and then rose again from the grave, he defeated Satan and the powers of darkness, and spiritual death. You have been delivered from Satan’s power through the victorious, redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Make sure you keep that wonderful truth in mind the next time you have to deal with the devil’s attack on your life. And don’t try to defeat a spiritual enemy with fleshly weapons and techniques because fleshly weapons are for fighting fleshly adversaries, they were never intended to defeat a spiritual foe. Spiritual adversaries must be fought with spiritual weapons!

Paul makes this point in 2 Corinthians 10:3 when he says, “For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does.” The word that is translated “live” in the NIV and the RSV, and “walk” in the KJV, is a compound word in Greek. It is the word peri, which means around, and pateo, which means to walk. When these two words are put together, the new word means to walk around or to habitually live and carry on in one general territory. It is the picture of a person who has walked in one general path for so long that he can how almost walk that path blindfolded. He knows that area well because he has habitually lived and functioned there.

By using the word peripateo in 2 Cor. 10:3, Paul is making a very strong statement about his humanity. He’s saying; “Nearly everything I do, I do in the flesh, I eat in the flesh; I sleep in the flesh; I think in the flesh,; I study in the flesh. My life is primarily lived in this earthly realm.” Although he was a spiritual man, he still lived in a body made of flesh. Because he was beaten and abused severely during the course of his ministry, his physical body permanently bore the marks and wounds and disfigurement of these beatings (11:23-25) and in Gal. 6:17, we read “I bear in my body the marks of Jesus.”

Now having said this, we recognize too, that Paul was a small man, the name Paul means—-“small” or “little” He didn’t argue against the fact that others thought he wasn’t very imposing. Paul was well aware of the weakness and futility of his flesh. He knew when it came to dealing with the devil, he had to turn his attention to the realm of the Spirit.

Now in II Cor. 10 verse 4 we read; “We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds.” They have divine power to demolish strongholds.

In this powerful verse, Paul speaks to us about the subject of spiritual warfare. In fact, this is one of the foundational verses on this subject, so it is vital to understand what Paul is talking about.

We need to understand what we are dealing with. What is it that we are destroying or tearing down, or breaking free of? Paul calls them strongholds. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern that has molded itself into our way of thinking. These strongholds have the capability to affect our feelings, how we respond to various situations in life, and they play a large role in our spiritual freedom.

What we call salvation is simply the first stage of God’s plan for reconciling our lives to Him, and conform us in character and power to the image of Jesus Christ. If we fail to see our relationship to God as such, we will allow too many areas within us to remain unchanged. Pulling down strongholds is the demolition and removal of these old ways of thinking, so that the actual Presence of Jesus Christ can be manifested through us.

A stronghold can be a source of protection for us from the devil, as is the case when the Lord becomes our stronghold as He did for David when he was a young boy. But when he was older David allowed his flesh to dictate what he did, when he sinned against God by committing adultery with Bathsheba, and having Uriah her husband killed. Or conversely and opposite, a stronghold can be a source of defense for the devil’s influence in our lives, where demonic or sinful activity is actually defended within our sympathetic thoughts toward evil. That’s what we have the power to do because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul defines strongholds as speculations or lofty human reasoning raised up against the knowledge of God. It is any type of thinking that exalts itself above the knowledge of God, thereby giving the devil a secure place of influence in an individual’s thought-life.

In verse 5 we read; “we demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Ed Silvoso, (a Latin American pastor), defines a stronghold as “a mind set impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept something that we know is contrary to the will of God.”

It is important to recognize that when we speak of a stronghold, we are not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. We are all guilty at times of thinking thoughts that are sinful and not pleasing to God and we should confess it when we realize that, and ask Him to forgive us. But we are talking about areas in your life that you are in bondage to and are having a heard time breaking loose from.

Strongholds come from worldly influence. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 (that I have mentioned many times), “do not conform to the pattern of this world.” Then in I John 5:19-20 we read; “We know that we are children of God, and that the world around us is under the power and the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.”

Many strongholds are a result of an accumulation of un-crucified thoughts and unsanctified attitudes that have ruled our lives during our formative years. As children growing up in a world that is under the influence and the sway of the enemy we received a steady stream of information and experiences that continually shaped our childhood perceptions. This is why the Bible says our minds need to be renewed once we are born again of God’s Spirit.

Just because we are Christians does not exempt us from having strongholds that must be dealt with. There are still many strongholds within us. Common strongholds many deal with are; fear, resentment, bitterness, un-forgiveness, apathy, unbelief, depression, anxiety, luke-warmness, sinful thoughts, lust, pride, greed, —drugs, alcohol, pornography.

In other words; Anything that continues to dominate your life which can affect you physical and spiritual development. Anything that is so dominant in your life that you think you can’t live without it. You can’t live without thinking a certain way, or feeling a certain way, or enjoying certain things.

The first one I mentioned is FEAR. I was speaking about this a number of years ago when I was on tour in churches here in the U.S. –when Jeannene and I were missionaries. I told about how a lady in the Congo was hospitalized because she was sick with fear. She kept getting worse and her vital signs showed that she was about to die. Another missionary who had written a book about dealing with witchcraft, went to see her and was very blunt. He asked her who the indoki was (who was the witch) who had put a curse on her. Without hesitation, immediately she responded, “my uncle.” She had built up such a hatred for him because he had cursed her from having children. She was very afraid of him, and this caused her to become ill and was hospitalized. She was told that she must confess her hatred as sin, and to forgive her uncle, and ask the Lord to put a love for him in her heart. She began to pray this way. She immediately began to improve and the next day she was normal and was released from the hospital. This was something I spoke about when I talked about what God was doing in The Congo.

I stayed with a young couple up in the Akron, Ohio area who had 3 children. Mary had received Christ into her life, when she was 13 years old, and was baptized. Now she was 33 years old and taught a Sunday School class, and she and her husband worked with the youth in the church. She also worked in the church office as an administrative assistant to the pastor. After speaking about fear in their church, at the house that night she began to pour out her heart to me. She said that she could never pray in the first person. She never felt the love of God that she knew about and knew that she should. She never could sleep through the night, and her husband Dave said that often she would get up and go down stairs and vacuum, or clean or sometimes just walk around. I noticed that whenever we talked about spiritual things she would never look me in the eye. When we sat down to talk, she would only sit a few seconds, and then she would be up doing something. I asked her about her childhood, and what kind of influences she had had at home. She told me that from the time she was 8 years old, she was exposed to the witchcraft and occult practices of her grandfather. Then when her grandfather died some years before, her uncle took her to seances, where she would hear the voice of her grandfather. From that time on she said, that she wanted to die. When she was in high school, she and her friends used to play with the Ouigi board and very often when they placed their hands on it, it moved without anyone touching it. Over a period of about a month, we prayed against depression, and a spirit of suicide which began to manifest in various ways. Mary tried to take her life twice during this time, but God always intervened and protected her. She had a hard time believing that God loved her. Finally she renounced all of her association in the past, with anything having to do with the occult. And through prayer, and her beginning to be able to read the Word, she had victory over Satan, and the stronghold that he had placed on her mind.

When identifying your strongholds, survey or examine the attitudes in your heart, every area in your thinking that was influenced by things that the enemy of our souls set up against God. If you are struggling to really grow in the Lord spiritually, or you continually are finding that you can’t live in victory, think about anything that you might have been involved with when you or someone in your immediate family were involved with that Satan could have used to get a foothold in your life, and establish a stronghold. If he was able to do that, every time you try to make progress spiritually, he hold you back and as far as he is concerned he has every right to, because you allowed him to demonize you at some time in your past. If you were ever involved with:

Black magic or curses, or so called “white magic, .occult games like The Ouija Board, (some video games today), seances, clairvoyance and mediums, E.S.P., second sight and mind reading, all fortune telling, psychic reading, , palm reading, tea leaf reading, crystal balls, Tarot or other fortune cards. Astrology and interest in horoscopes, the heresy of incarnation, all contacts with demonic healing, hypnosis under any excuse or authority, water witching or dowsing. Levitation, psychometry and automatic writing; —

-all literature you have read in any of these fields you need to renounce. Your prayer can be; I now break and renounce my involvement with ——name whatever it is you were involved with, even if it was 50 years ago. Anything that has held your mind captive without your knowing it. This could even be something that was done by your ancestors because God’s Word tells us that the sins of the fathers can be passed on to the 3rd and 4th generation.

We need to understand though that we are talking about heresies that come against God and His Word. Anything or anyone who binds your thinking into believing that there is any other way to have forgiveness of sin, and be reconciled to God except through His son Jesus Christ. These are sins that can be passed on unknowingly.

We must use spiritual power to demolish these kinds of strongholds. They are like we read in verse 5; “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We need to take our thoughts captive, and make them obedient to Christ.

So, to demolish Satan’s strongholds we need to bring our thoughts into captivity, obey Christ, and allow Jesus to establish a stronghold against Satan, and build a stronghold of Christlikeness. This of course can be a struggle, but through the power of the Holy spirit, VICTORY IS SURE.

Strongholds of the enemy, are built upon error and falsehood, its through the truth that you tear down such faulty thinking patterns. Strongholds are built when we accept and receive error and begin to mediate on them. It forms in our minds what is known as an “imagination”, that is, a false concept that we believe to be true, but in reality is not. The Bible speaks about these imaginations clearly, and shows us how they can be torn down.

We must renew our minds like Paul says in Romans 12;2. Our minds need to be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

As our minds are renewed, we may prove or discern what is good, acceptable and perfect, and the will of God. These things are some of the very things that strongholds rise themselves against! Many people who are caught up in shame based thinking do not realize that it’s God’s will and it is good for them to disassociate themselves from their past. Their minds need to be renewed, and as those strongholds come down they will be able to see God’s will and respond.

How are our minds renewed and cleansed? Through the washing of the Word, our minds are transformed and strongholds are torn down. Spending time and meditating on the Word of God washes our minds and corrects our false thinking patterns, that has formed strongholds.

Ephesians 5:26-27 says; “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word; That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

As we meditate and wash our minds with God’s Word, we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and we will come to know the will of God, and discern what is right, perfect and good. Our strongholds, which are based upon error and deception will not stand a chance as the light of God’s Word (the truth), is shed upon those areas of our minds.