Gateways

I’m in the middle of a three-week visit to Europe, and taking in the sights while I’m here! A few days ago, we traveled to tour the Castle of Bouillon, which has quite an interesting history. It is said to have been around for centuries before 988 A.D., which is the first time it is found mentioned in any written material.

20191107_103404.jpgIts claim to fame is that it was sold by Duke Godfrey of Bouillon in order to fund the first crusade in 1096. A statue of the Duke can be found in the Royal Square in Brussels (which we got to visit a couple of days later). The castle changed hands over the centuries, as you can imagine! With each change in ownership, changes were made to the fortress and its features.

The photograph below shows how the castle walls were just built right on top of the hill, without any leveling of the ground beforehand.

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Built on the rock, I’d say!

The castle itself has three entrance gates, each one of which originally had a drawbridge.

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Gateway 1

The first gateway, in addition to having the option of a closed drawbridge for defense, has an opening above the door for dropping large stones or hot liquid on attackers.

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Gateway 2

The second gateway opens up into a passageway, through which you can see a portcullis ready to drop. If attackers made it through the first and second entrances into this area, a second portcullis could be dropped behind them, trapping them in the middle. Trapped enemies could then be picked off by arrows or large objects dropped through holes in the ceiling. In addition, dropping the portcullis provided a bit of time for guards to gather additional defenses.

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Gateway 3

If attackers made it through both of the first two gateways and portcullises, they came to the third. This gateway had the added advantage of arrow loops above, from which archers could shoot in several different directions while remaining relatively protected.

Attackers had to be quite determined to make it beyond this point!

Just as medieval castles had multiple lines of defense for their gateways, our hearts also need defensive systems in place. We never know when the attacks will come, but we should be prepared in advance.

What kind of attacks might we face? Here is just a short list to start:

  • Fear
  • Rejection or betrayal
  • Grief
  • Loneliness
  • Failure
  • Temptation

These emotions are natural responses to circumstances we go through. The problem comes when we let them get into the deep places of our heart, and invite them to stay for a while. We begin to see them as welcome friends who belong at our table, whispering what we think are truths when really what they speak is lies. We allow these feelings to affect how we see ourselves, and in turn how we see God.

  • Will God really come through for me? Will he really provide for my needs?
  • If others have rejected me, I must not be worthy of love. God couldn’t possibly love me.
  • The pain of loss will never soften. God doesn’t care about me. How could he let this happen?
  • No one will ever love me for who I am. No one really wants me around. God must not want me, either.
  • I can’t do anything right. God could never use me.
  • It’s no big deal for me to give in to this itsy little temptation. No one will know about it, anyway.

Sneaky devil knows what he’s doing! He’s been practicing on us for millenia. Does that mean we just give up and give in?

Absolutely not, my friend!

We can’t build physical fortresses to protect ourselves from any of these kinds of attacks. What then should we do?

Before these attacks come, we need to shore up our defenses! Spend time daily reading the Word of God, meditating on what it says. Put in the effort required to memorize pertinent verses that you can use to defend yourself against the wiles of the devil. David wrote, “The very essence of your words is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus used the truths of Scripture to strike down Satan’s lies in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11). He prayed for his disciples (including us!), “Teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17 NLT).

How do we fight lies? With TRUTH! As you read your Bible, make note of any verses that apply to attacks you regularly go through. Meditate on their truths, and memorize as many as you can. Here are a few starters for you:

  • Fear: “God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (Hebrews 5-6)
  • Rejection: “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10).
  • Grief: “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
  • Loneliness: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7)
  • Failure: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
  • Temptation: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

As you memorize Scriptures, use them to build up the library of your mind and heart. Each truth is another weapon in your armory. The Holy Spirit will remind you of those truths when you need them, and you can send your enemy packing!

Take a moment to take stock of your armory, and check your spiritual defenses. How well are the gateways into your heart defended? Perhaps it’s time to make some fortress improvements. Ask your Father for His input – – He cares for you!

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

 

 

 

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