1. Welcome our listening friends.
2. What a delight for us to know that you have joined us again.
3. And for those of you who have joined us for the first time, we are drawing to a close of the study of Abraham in the book of Genesis.
4. Abraham and Sarah had had a child when they were nearly 100 and 90 years of age.
5. This child was named Isaac.
6. Abraham also had an older son with his wife’s maid, Hagar.
7. This first son was Ishmael,
8. and for a long time, Abraham thought that Ishmael was the son that God had promised him.
9. However, God kept his promise to Abraham and Sarah and they gave birth to Isaac when Ishmael was 13 years old.
10. From the center of his father’s attention, Ishmael was thrust into sibling rivalry, and he resented Isaac.
11. This resentment comes to a head when Isaac was about 5 years old.
12. and I left you in the last program telling you that this resentment represents spiritual truth.
13. It symbolizes the conflict in the Christian life.
14. And now it is time for us to look at this important truth in more details.
15. If Isaac represents salvation by grace... Ishmael represents the stronghold of sin and salvation by works.
16. Paul tells us so in Galatians chapter 5 verse 17,
17. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
(Gal 5:17 NIV)
18. Strongholds in the life of a Christian is like Ishmael in the life of Abraham.
19. Christians need to deal with them...
20. know how to be freed from these strongholds.
21. In verse 10 when Sarah detected Ishmael's resentment she said to Abraham the following,
22. "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid will not be an heir with my son."
23. And here we see once again domestic tranquility is shattered.
24. The work of the flesh will always be accompanied by strife.
25. Past sins that are not dealt with... will always raise their ugly heads.
26. The Greek word for stronghold means "a hard place".
27. In our minds there are strongholds... or command posts... from which the enemy works in the surrounding area.
28. The enemy uses these command posts to disturb our peace.
29. The enemy uses these command posts to stunt our spiritual growth.
30. The enemy uses these command posts to hassle us and harass us.
31. The enemy uses these command posts to keep us spiritually off balance.
32. And that is why Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 27,
33. “and do not give the devil a foothold.”
34. Meaning that Christians... can and do give places to the devil.
35. These strongholds in our lives whether they are lying or cheating or an addiction or holding of a grudge
36. whether they are bitterness or fear or lust
37. or condemnation or selfish ambition...
38. whatever they may be…
39. these strongholds are gateways for the devil to come in and set up a camp.
40. Ishmael represented a stronghold of disobedience.
41. My friends, please listen to me very carefully.
42. It is not shameful to have a stronghold in your life...
43. we all have to deal with them.
44. It will be shame if you keep these strong holds in your life.
45. All Christians have some form of strongholds in their lives
46. And the difference between those who live in victory... and those who live in defeat.
47. It is not that some Christians are stronger than others.
48. It is not because some Christians are better than others.
49. But those who experience victory are those who have learned to name the strongholds in their lives and are willing to call upon the name of Jesus to deliver them from these strongholds.
50. Those who keep the strongholds in the closet as it were... for whatever reason... have fallen pray to the lies of the devil...
51. and they will continue to live in defeat.
52. If the devil can keep you in shame and embarrassment…
53. then he will be successful in keeping you defeated all the time.
54. And this is why Jesus said;
55. that the truth will set you free.
56. Notice he did not say the knowledge of the truth... but submission to the truth.
57. Paul tells us in II Corinthians chapter 10 verses 3 to 6.
58. We can pull down these strongholds.
59. Every time they try to nest in our hearts and minds... we can toss them out by the power of the truth.
60. Here's what Paul tells us;
61. We are not to try to demolish these strongholds in the flesh...
62. all methods of the world will not work... why?
63. Because the spiritual weapons of warfare are mighty enough to do the job.
64. These spiritual weapons that are available to us;
65. And they... can cast down imagination.
66. And they... can pull down high things.
67. And they... can bring our thoughts captive to Christ.
68. God has given us legal weapons by which we can fight and win.
69. And Revelation 12:11 tells us,
70. "that by the blood of the lamb and by the Word…"
71. The light of the Word of God can help you expose the dark strongholds.
72. The truth of the Word of God can help you pull down these strongholds.
73. The power of the word of God can dispose of the strongholds.
74. The heartache Ishmael caused Abraham was not what God intended for Abraham.
75. This was the sorrow wrought by the work of the flesh.
76. This was misery that was the result of his action independent of the Lord.
77. One last thought from chapter 21 before I get back to deliverance from strongholds.
78. The fruit of the flesh will always end up in a relationship to the world.
79. Ishmael... was the fruit of the flesh,
80. Ishmael... the product of what happened when Abraham tried to by-pass God ends up going to Egypt for a wife.
81. Remember that Egypt for Abraham represented going away from the will of God.
82. Egypt for Lot represented the enticement and seduction of materialism.
83. Now from Egypt a marriage partner for Ishmael is found.
84. I have to tell you at the outset the complete and final liberation will come only when we meet Jesus face to face.
85. But here and now God has given us some ways by which we can experience victory.
86. Just think with me for a moment
87. when you walk into a dark room... fear and apprehension... and anxiety are the natural feelings.
88. But when you flip the on switch on the wall... fear is reversed.
89. Letting the Word of God exposes what you have come to believe to be impossible to overcome.
90. Letting the Word exposes what you consider impossible to get rid of from your life.
91. That is the first step.
92. And as you are exposed to the Word...
93. what you have come to accept as powerful bondage becomes flimsy and weak.
94. But exposure is only part of the process.
95. Any belief system which opposes faith and causes bondage of any kind is a lie that has to go.
96. but the truth is
97. and victory is yours.
98. If you believed the lie that says because you have failed therefore you are a failure;
99. The truth is.
1. Though you have failed... you have been redeemed from the curse and you can do all things through Christ who continually strengthens you.
2. Whatever your stronghold may be... whatever bondage is holding you down today.
3. You can defeat it and have victory over it today.
4. You can pull it down and demolish it today.
5. You can destroy it and discard it today.
6. Because Jesus willed it so.
7. And as we come before God... I want you to take a moment to express the strongholds in you life.
8. Then I want you to take the sword of the word of God and pull down the strongholds.
9. And then write to us and tell us you have done so
10. until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.