Be prepared to show a picture of Predjama Castle to your group.
In medieval times, empires built castles in strategic places—on hilltops or in locations surrounded by water. But the builders of Predjama Castle took protection one step further when they situated the base of the fortress on a cliff in the mouth of a cave. (Show a picture of the castle.) Halfway up the 403-foot-high cliff, you’ll find a five-story castle with 15 rooms and an immense network of secret passageways leading through the cave. The castle almost blends into the mouth of the cave, becoming part of the mountain. It’s accessible from only one side, which made it a nearly impenetrable place of refuge during wartime.
The builders of Predjama Castle picked a perfect location—high on a cliff, protected from their enemies. They knew that being on the plain—alone, unprotected, and vulnerable—would mean certain demise.
As you look at your life, do you see yourself perched behind a fortress of brick and stone, ready to take on the enemy? Or are you alone and unprotected, looking for refuge on the plain? Make no mistake, the devil and his temptations are lurking, no matter your station in life. Listen to what God tells us about the enemy. (Read Proverbs 5:22 and 1 Peter 5:8.)
Of course, we aren’t worried about medieval battering rams, cannons, or mortars. Even so, there are plenty of “fiery darts” flying at us (Ephesians 6:16). What is your weak point? Where does sin attack your defenses and penetrate your soul?
For many of us, our failures are our demise. We didn’t get that promotion at work—and we flounder throughout life without direction. We go through financial emergencies—and we search for any way to make a quick buck, no matter the implications for our soul. Our kids have left the Church—and we turn our hearts away from our Creator, too.
Or, does sin attack you through depression and loneliness? Do you run to the latest self-help book touting that you can get back on track, as long as you try hard enough? Does your stress drive you to lash out and isolate yourself?
The Bible is full of faulty fortresses, too. David was a mighty warrior, but for all his strength, he waivered in the face of sin (2 Samuel 11). Jonah thought his fortress, built on a base of stubbornness, would hide him from the will of God. And just a few pieces of silver were enough to make Judas crumble (Matthew 26:14–16).
This world tells us that we can protect ourselves, become our own fortress. If we build enough money and stature, nothing can touch us. But if you’ve ever tried this tactic, you know the depression, the stress, and the failures will always come out on top. When we try to rule and protect our hearts on our own, sin wins.
We’ll never find a truly impenetrable fortress here on earth. Sin will forever reap destruction in the face of human strength. But we have a King who has built us a fortress—a stronghold that will survive no matter the circumstances. And, every moment of our lives, he invites us to come into that fortress and rely on him:
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust (Psalm 18:2 KJV).
God is our fortress, a loving refuge that will never waiver! When sin came into the world, God kicked Adam and Eve out of Paradise, but he would never kick us out of his Kingdom. He sent Jesus, his one and only Son, to build a bridge back to the Father. Jesus lived a perfect life in our place. He was betrayed by his followers, beaten by his enemies, nailed to the cross of death, and left to hang in agony. And, with every moment of suffering he had us in mind—the sinners he loved, whom he desperately wanted to bring back to God.
When Jesus rose from the dead three days later, he delivered us to a life eternal in the mighty fortress of God! By faith in Jesus, we are protected from sin and its destruction. We can hide our hearts in God’s fortress, putting our spirits in his protective grasp. Our fears can’t reach us here! Our failures won’t tear us down and our feelings will never isolate us! We pour out our sins and weakness to our heavenly Father, and because of Jesus, he gives us a seat of righteous in his Kingdom! (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
With our hearts hidden away in the fortress of God, we face our lives. We walk forward boldly because we know the power and protection of Jesus follows us wherever we go. We parent with confidence, drawing our children into the Word of God. We work in our jobs, knowing that God is growing his Kingdom through our actions. We serve others in Jesus’ name, defending the weak and uplifting the discouraged. And, through all of this, we know God is bringing more believers to trust in him, to live eternally in his mighty fortress.
Throughout your life—no matter where you are serving in his Kingdom—remember that you are protected by God, your Fortress. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the Lord is your Rock—forever!
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