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Are there things in your life weighing you down that you KNOW you need to get rid of? Sins you’re aware that are sins but you keep committing them over and over anyways? You feel like there’s no way out and that no matter how hard you try to stop, you just can’t?
A stronghold is something that gets in the way of our spiritual life, a sin that prevents us from becoming closer to God. This could be something like an addiction, a “worldly” view on life in general, or even a lack of faith. I know that I personally have too many to count, but there are a few that continuously come back to haunt me and they seem to be something I truly cannot let go of. They’re always presenting themselves and I face a daily battle, too often losing, when approached by them.
The apostle Paul even talks about the struggles of temptation and succumbing to it in Romans 7:15:
What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.
We’re human. God knows we can’t be perfect. It’s impossible for us to be perfect. That’s why He sent His son for us – to give us the gift of grace that would outmatch the productivity of sin.*
5 strongholds I need to place at God’s feet in 2017
1. Social Media
(Ugh! This one makes me sick to think about.) This stronghold is probably my #1 struggle right now! I think I’m actually addicted to it. I have anxiety when I don’t have my phone next to me-I HATE that I’ve come to that point! And that’s why I’m putting this out there because I need to be held accountable and my time needs to be much more well-spent. Yes, social media is definitely necessary for blogging; HOWEVER, I could easily set aside just one time each day to check my social media platforms and then not touch them until the next day rather than keep my phone on me at all times. It takes away time with my children, it makes me upset with them when I’m trying to talk to some VIRTUAL person and my very own child is standing in front of me wanting his mommy’s attention. It takes away from my marriage-before Luke left from his deployment we were perfectly content laying in bed next to each other every night both in our phones and not saying a word. I laid there with my phone in my hand, feeding my addiction when I should have left that phone downstairs, nowhere near our bed or even bedroom, and instead held my husband’s hand to talk to God. Or to talk to my husband. Or to kiss or hold my husband. And the worst part, it takes up precious time I could be spending getting to know my Heavenly Father, studying His word. Social media is the biggest time-waster ever. It makes me so upset sometimes but I continue to do it! This is the FIRST thing that I am breaking free from the chains of in 2017. My relationship with God comes first. My relationship with my husband and our marriage comes first. And my children come first. They’re what matter!
For some reason I have ridiculously high anxieties when it comes to my children, especially going places with them, and I’m always nagging them telling them to hurry hurry hurry. I HATE that about myself yet I continue to do it! It’s like I have no control! I grew up with that and couldn’t stand the anxiety it gave me as a child and here I am doing it to my own children! Love is patient! The Bible says so. Impatience does not show love. I need to repeat this verse in 2 Corinthians until I’m blue in the face for it to click in my mind.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. – 2 Corinthians 13:4-8
I’m way too quick to anger. Every time I’m angry, I react before I think. My father reacted this way to us growing up and I know that darn temper was passed onto me. I feel like I can’t escape that temper tantrum any more. I need to place this horrible sin at God’s feet in 2017 because I will NOT pass that onto my boys! I will not raise boys who will hurry their children along like I was. That stops with me.
Know this my dear brothers; everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
This is such a difficult one to admit but I need to cool it with the spending! If I’m out with the boys and they’re all hungry and crabby and it’s almost nap time, I’d much rather stop at chick fil a so they can eat AS SOON as we get home-because who knows if I even have lunch at the house anyways. Well, getting out of debt = serious inconvenience! Convenience is my weakness especially being a single parent of 4 ages 4 and under for the past several months. Achieving the financial freedom of being debt-free means living BELOW our means whatever it takes. If I need diapers but it’s not left in the budget til next pay-I need to go to my cloth diapers until payday. I need to dig through my chest freezer to find something for a meal rather than go out and buy another bag of chicken strips for the kids just because it’s more convenient. God knows I need help in this area-it’s something I constantly fail at weekly.
5. Being selfish in my marriage
Unfortunately this is too easy to do and a habit easily fallen into. Doing things and not thinking about how something would make Luke feel before I act is something I need to seriously work on. Over and over do I do this. His needs need to be above my own at all times! That is how a marriage truly works. I need to learn to die for him a thousand different ways every day. When Luke is sick, I will respond. When he is sad, I will respond. When he is depleted, I will respond. I will forgo my own comfort to put his needs above my own. These thousands of little deaths is what love truly is.
These battles we face daily are spiritual battles. The enemy is constantly trying to pull you away from God and throw you into the worldly ways. These worldly ways are sadly becoming viewed as more and more “normal” which makes it even more difficult to stand our ground in God’s ways and speak His truth.
But it is SO important that we do share His truth! We will be persecuted by others for it. There’s no way around it.
However, I think of these persecutions and struggles as small ways to suffer for Christ the way he suffered for us. I take persecutions as a blessing and welcome them – a way to say thank you and a way to show my love for my Savior.
How do we approach these strongholds weighing us down and preventing us from becoming close to our Heavenly Father?
We put on the armor of God!
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17
One of my favorite Christian bloggers, Arabah Joy, wrote a post called 10 Powerful Verses for your War Room and I highly recommend reading it! It has inspired my goals for the New Year. One of these verses she mentions comes from Ephesians 6:12:
I acknowledge my struggle is not against flesh and blood. This battle isn’t about the physical issue I’m facing. It is against rulers, against powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. This is where I will do battle, Lord, and I will do it in prayer.
My strongholds will not hold me down any more. I’m tired of how emotionally and physically draining the back and forth motions are. I’m tired of only half-trying to fight these things that keep me from my Father.
We have an amazing weapon at our hands to fight these things that keep us from our Lord.
In 2017, I will fight with prayer.
I will fight daily.
I will fight hourly.
The enemy will no longer have a hold of me.
2017 is my year to finally learn what it’s like to die a little each day for my Savior… to give myself each day to him… to love him that much.
Would you join me this year in beginning a prayer journal? Brush the dust off your Bible and open it every day in 2017. You wouldn’t believe the effect it would have on your life and the strength you can gain from our Heavenly Father to fight your strongholds in your life!
Would you join me in going to our Lord with anything and everything that is on your mind, whenever it is on your mind. Write in it EVERY DAY! Talk to God EVERY DAY! When something is difficult, don’t worry about it – pray about it! That’s the absolute best thing you can do. God will carry our burdens for us if we let Him. Don’t let anxiety or fear or worry keep you from experiencing a relationship with God.
2017 is YOUR year!
Through the power of prayer and the grace of God, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance with our hearts and our minds. They belong to our Heavenly Father!
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