Our Stronghold

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Thursday, December 25, 2014, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Give God the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 48 (NIV84).

Most Worthy

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.

Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
It is beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth.
Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.

Zion, in the New Testament, is the body of Christ, a living organism in which the Spirit of God dwells – the true church, the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God. This church, his body, is not to be confused, though, with buildings and institutions of men called “church.” They are not one and the same, even though parts of the body of Christ may attend the meetings of some of these human institutions. Human institutions are organizations and businesses of human origin, run just like any other human businesses. The body of Christ, on the other hand, is a living organism, and its head is Christ, and he is the one to direct the course of his church and how it is to be run.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this church. “Therefore the Lord GOD said: ‘Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable’” (Is. 28:16). He is the first stone; the first and most essential part of this new building, his church, and he is its sure foundation (basis). And, we, like living stones, are being built upon that foundation “as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). What this means is that our individual lives and the collective body of Christ should be built upon Christ and upon his Word and not on the teachings and philosophies of humans.

HE is to be the praise of HIS church, his body, Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God. We praise him, though, not just with our lips, but with our lives when we give ourselves to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable service of worship of him – no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds (See: Ro. 12:1-2). We were called out of the darkness of sin into his wonderful light of truth and grace so, “as sojourners and exiles,” we are “to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (See: 1 Pet. 2:9-12). And, we are to be holy, as He is holy, which means that we are to be separate (unlike; different) from the world, because we are like Christ, set apart to him and to his service.

The Enemy

When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.

Our enemy is Satan and all his hordes which follow him and do his bidding. God does allow Satan and evil humans to come against us, to attack us, to persecute us and to even kill us for our faith in Jesus Christ, and because we stand on the Word of Truth, and we do not deny Jesus and his gospel. Yet, one day God will judge them for their evil deeds.

Yet, not all is hopeless. Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection, conquered death, hell, sin and Satan. God has given us spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20). When Satan comes against us and he tries to tempt us to fear and to doubt God or to sin against our Lord, we are to resist him, and he will flee from us, but we may have to be persistent. There is much power in the name of Jesus.

Yet, resisting the devil is sandwiched between submitting ourselves to God and drawing near to God, “and he will draw near to you.” Coupled with that is that we should “cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” and we should weep and mourn over sin and humble ourselves before God (See: Jas. 4:7-10). In other words, we can’t resist Satan unless we are submitted to God, drawing near to him, humbled before him, repentant over sin and have forsaken living in willful sin and rebellion against God.

Secure Forever

As we have heard,
so have we seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure forever. Selah

Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, we die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, we are transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind, and we are given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived in the power of the Spirit within us and in his righteousness and holiness. This is what it means to be born again or to be born of the Spirit. When we are born, thus, into God’s family, he gives us the Holy Spirit to indwell us, to empower us to live holy lives pleasing to God, and to guide, counsel, encourage, comfort, lead and teach us in the way we should go. The Holy Spirit is also a deposit in our lives, guaranteeing what is to come. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we thus receive eternal life with God in heaven. Thus God makes the believer in Jesus Christ secure forever.

The temple of God lives within the lives of believers in Jesus Christ, i.e. we are his temple; his dwelling place. So we are continually in the presence of Almighty God, because his presence lives within us. We are God’s house, not some church building built with human hands. So, we can talk with him, fellowship with him, and worship him 24/7 no matter where we are. We can meditate on his Word and on his great love for us, and we can rejoice in his truth, even the hard truths of God’s word to us.

It is in these times that we spend time in his word, listening to him speak his words to our hearts, and then we take what he has taught us and we apply it to our lives via obedience and submission to the Lord and to his Word. These should be precious times between us and our Lord where he communes with us and he shares with us his heart, and when we pour out our hearts to him, and he speaks encouragement and strengthening to our hearts and minds. I love my times with my Lord!

Her Towers

Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them to the next generation.
For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.

Zion, because it is a spiritual entity and an organism instead of an organization, and because it exists all over the world and no longer in one specific location, would be difficult for any of us to walk around physically. Yet, the sense here is one of doing an examination and an evaluation of the church, the body of Christ, to see what all she is made of. Her “towers, ramparts and citadels” all represent her strongholds and her fortifications. These also are no longer physical but spiritual in nature.

God/Jesus is our stronghold: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (See: 18:2; cf. Ps. 9:9; 27:1; 94:22). The Word of God is another tower or stronghold, for it is the power of God in our lives, it is the sword of the Spirit with which we fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and it is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and it pierces our hearts and discerns our thoughts and intentions (See: 1 Co. 1:18; Eph. 6:10-20; Heb. 4:12).

We can only be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, though, when we find our refuge, wisdom, counsel and guidance in him, and we follow in his footsteps and we go wherever he leads us. He must be our foundation (our basis) for life and how we live it. We should praise him with our lives by submitting to the cross of Christ, and by surrendering to his will for our lives, and by living holy and godly lives pleasing to him – all in the power of his Spirit within us. We have to draw near to him, humble ourselves before him, repent of sin, and walk in his holiness, forsaking our idols and the sins which so easily entangle us so we can run the race he has set before us. And, we must spend time with him each day in his word, in listening to him speak, and then in obeying what he teaches us. Then we will know and will experience him as our rock, our refuge, our deliverer and our stronghold.

Give God the Glory / An Original Work

Based off Psalm 19 / March 10, 2014

All of creation now proclaims:
“Give God the glory; honor His name!”
Each day the stars in heav’n above
Show forth His wisdom; tell of His love.

They do not speak. They have no voice.
Yet, they declare we have a choice:
“Worship the God of heav’n above;
Believe in Jesus; trust in His love.”

God’s word is perfect, just and good,
Refreshing souls who trust in the Lord;
Makes wise the simple; radiant -
Lighting our lives with God’s righteousness.

Joy to the heart His words now speak;
Pure and enduring, now we seek.
They are more precious than our gold;
Sweeter than honey; never grow old.

Keeping the word brings great reward.
By the word Jesus speaks and He warns,
Convicting hearts of all their sin;
Forgiving all who call upon Him.

Praying You keep me, Lord, from sins.
May they not rule my life again.
Then will I walk in all Your ways,
Following Jesus all of my days.