One of the most popular topics in Christianity over the last several years is the concept of strongholds. The word stronghold is a military term. Strongholds are areas that have been fortified so as to protect against attack. Kings would often build fortified walls around their cities to make them very difficult to penetrate. This was a stronghold.
Typically in most Christian circles, the phrase stronghold is thought of in a negative light. People often talk of demonic strongholds in people’s lives to explain issues with sin, sickness, or depression. While it is true that demonic strongholds exist in many people’s lives, the Bible teaches we can build Godly strongholds (fortified positions) in our lives so we can thwart the attacks of Satan.
2 Chronicles 2:14 says King Rehoboam did evil because he didn’t prepare his heart to seek the Lord. The evil Rehoboam did was due to a failure to prepare. He wasn’t intentional in his seeking of God and didn’t build a godly stronghold in his life. Evil behavior was the by-product.
The same principle holds true for you and me today. We must intentionally prepare our heart to seek God, otherwise we will do evil whether we want to or not. That begs the question:
How do I prepare my heart to seek God?
Acts 2 teaches a pattern the early church walked in after a great revival at Pentecost where 3,000 people were saved. Look at verse 42:
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The early church did four things that caused growth in the disciples lives and also caused the church to grow and reach more people. These were continuing in the apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread (communion), and prayers. Let’s take a quick look at each of these four items.
1. Continuing in the apostle’s doctrine – God’s entire kingdom is built on His word. It is impossible to mature in the things of God unless we make a decision that we will put the word of God in us. Acts 2:42 says the disciples continued in doctrine. Continued means an ongoing experience with the word of God. The same way we make a choice to eat every day, we must make a choice to feed on God’s word everyday, whether we feel like it or not. When we let our lives get too busy for His word, we should expect to do evil in the sight of the Lord just like Rehoboam.
2. Fellowship – Much of our growth in God’s kingdom is determined by who we hang around. When we hang out with people who are hungry for God and pursuing the things of God, it becomes infectious. Godly relationships push us into higher realms of God’s plan for our lives as we see His word modeled by other believers and get to learn from them. There is an old saying, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” If we want to walk in all Jesus has for our lives, we need to make a choice to get connected to other strong Christians.
3. The breaking of bread speaks of communion. Communion is about covenant. God made a covenant with us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promised us He will never be mad at us or rebuke us. This is an important concept and practice we need to remind ourselves of constantly. As important as staying in the word and godly fellowship are, there will be times we miss it. The concept of communion and God’s commitment to us no matter what we do is our fail-safe. Understanding this keeps us out of condemnation when we miss it and will allow us establish our heart in grace and make it good soil for God’s word to produce in us. Learn more here.
4. Prayers – At its simplest form prayer is about communion with God. It is about us pouring our heart out to Him and Him speaking back to us. Prayer is also how God brings change to our circumstances. Jesus told his disciples that God knew what they had need of before they prayed and then He told them to pray. Why? God’s power isn’t released until we pray. It’s impossible to grow in the Christian life without prayer. Learn more here.
As I have walked in these four principles of sound doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer I have seen growth in my life. These four principles aren’t a magic formula. They are a godly stronghold I’ve built in my life. All four of these principles work together and feed off of one of another to push me into a higher level in my walk with Him.
Because I have made a choice to do these four things consistently, it’s pretty hard for me to do evil consistently in the sight of the the Lord. I’m not saying I don’t mess up, I certainly do, however, my godly stronghold of feeding on His word, fellowshipping with strong believers, understanding God’s covenant with me, and consistently praying has built a momentum in my life that makes it difficult for Satan to get me to consistently stumble. These things have worked together to prepare my heart to seek the Lord.
I want to encourage you to make a choice to build a godly stronghold in your life. Revival is here and we are about to see God do awesome things in the earth. God wants those things to sustain and increase in our lives and this only happens as we make conscious and intentional choices that take great effort. The effort will be with it when we see the influence of God’s kingdom increase in our lives and we walk in all of His promises!