Sunday, November 30, 2008

Samson - Check Your Attitude

Judges 16:18-20 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

This has been a whirlwind week. We went out of town on Sunday to Orlando for my birthday. We visited the Holy Land and then went to the "ICE" exhibit and shopping at the outlet malls and seeing 'Bolt' the movie and then traveling back home on Wednesday evening only to clean house in anticipation of everyone coming over for Thanksgiving Day. Does it ever seem to you that you need a vacation after your vacation?

It got me to thinking about life in general. I teach Public Speaking two days a week to high school students, I work part-time for Weight Watchers - 4 meetings a week, I homeschool my four children - beyond the everyday housewife things. I volunteer in the 3rd-4th grade AWANA for girls and do the Bible Lesson once a month as well as small devotionals on Wednesday evenings for 6th grade girls. My mom always asks, "Dorothy, I don't know how you do it." The fact is, I know that there are a lot of us women (and men) out there who have at least this much on their plate, if not more. It's only by the grace of God that we get through each day without a melt down as it is.

Samson has done some miraculous things, things that - without God - would be impossible. Sometimes it's easy to start thinking that we have it all under control - like Samson did. Samson became full of himself and thought that he could do it on his own - that betraying the secret God entrusted to him would be of no consequence. This attitude cost him a great deal. How often do we start to take credit for the things God has helped us accomplish. We need to remember that each day we are given is a gift from God and if we make it through to the end of that day - there is only One who deserves that glory. Thank you God for the energy to make it through today, thank you that my children are tucked in bed happy and healthy. Thank you for my jobs and the opportunity to share You with other people - whether by words or example. Thank you for another day to serve You...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Samson - What's Your Kryptonite?

Judges 16:6-17 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued." Samson answered her, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man." Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh thongs that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied." He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man." So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads. Delilah then said to Samson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied." He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin. Again she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric. Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."

This is the part of the story of Samson that we all know and that we've heard over and over again. Where Delilah pokes and prods and nags and begs until Samson finally gives up the secret of his strength. Out of all the things that Delilah does and the insane way that Samson falls for it - what intrigued me the most this time when I re-read these scriptures was- Samson was extremely talented=at lying.

Of all the traits that we pick out about Samson when asked: Strength, Chosen of God, Sacrificial - Liar never really makes it to the top of the list. But THREE times he lies and never once does Delilah say to him after he tells her, "Really, are you sure? Are you pulling my leg?" He is fully believed every time.

Sometimes, when we are with someone who has done wrong to us, or is doing wrong to us - it's easy for us to overlook where our own faults lie. Of course Delilah was just playing up to Samson in hopes to kill him - but I wonder what would've happened if Samson would have said the very first time - "God has entrusted me with a secret that I cannot share for fear you or your people may use it against me. Therefore I cannot tell you that secret - I hope you understand". Strength of character is just that - the endurance to hold true to what is right no matter the circumstance or how someone else is treating you. When we make our list of character traits - is strength one of them?

Speaking of things about our character, I was actually tagged by Mariel to list 6 random things about me, so I've segued from looking at your own character, to sharing a few about mine...

1) I wish I could travel to Paris or Australia one day - God's creation with an accent.

2) I never intended on having any children, let alone 4 and homeschooling all of them (yet wouldn't give any of it up for the world)

3) I would love to work in a lab and discover cures for diseases of which there is none (I have no medical background or chemist knowledge - just want a miracle here)

4) I recently saw "Twilight" because my teenage daughter HAD to see it. And Frankly, I really enjoyed it.

5) I miss my grandma. She died my first year of college. She taught me how to play the game of hopscotch.

6) My husband just took on a new youth pastorship, and I'm more proud of him than I probably tell him.

Ok, so there are 6 random things about me...what about YOU?

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself.
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Newer Bloggy Friends I would love to know better are...
Beth at Power of your Love
Kay at Thrive Christians
Sharon at Prince of Peace,
Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee
You are TAGGED! I look forward to reading your 'random things'

Friday, November 21, 2008

Samson - Danny Zuko outperformed.

Judges 16:2-5The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver." Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.

There are not too many stories out there about a girl who gets pregnant her first time having sex. Not too many news reports about car accidents where the driver was drunk and it was their first time ever taking a drink. Not too many death row inmates saying it was the first time they had ever committed a crime.

I wondered why the Bible tells us that Samson went and slept with a prostitute - why mention it? We can already see that Samson is not the upstanding man of God that he should be - so why tell us about it? I think it is to let us know that Samson was weak in this area, that by the time he got to Delilah - he was immersed in
this type of sin.. That this was a tool that satan used to bring Samson down.

How do you think we fall to sin? If you are someone who's never used drugs - never been taken in by the lie that drugs are what you need to 'escape' to a better world, do you think that is going to be what Satan uses to lure you? No, he's going to use the things that he knows are your weakness. The bad traffic that causes you to lose your temper and your Christ-like example. The overwhelmed and unusually busy Saturday that makes you want to sleep in and skip church on Sunday. The higher bills that keep coming in that make you want to take advantage of a client by overchar
ging on your prices. Satan is not going to walk up to you and say - "Here, have some heroin and a hooker" - he is sneaky and manipulative and - patient. He can come after you day after day after day. How can we avoid his powerful temptation? Jesus. Again, the final answer is always. . . Jesus. If you get a powerful stain in your carpet - you have to get a more powerful stain remover. Satan is the stain - Jesus is the "Greased Lightening".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Samson - "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

Judges 15:19-20 and 16:1Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.

Even after the tacky way that Samson tells God he needs water - God provides. I think it might have been in this provision that God teaches Samson that he couldn't have destroyed those Philistines by himself just as much as he couldn't sustain life if it weren't for God. It is in these verses that we get a little foreshadowing - that's a literary term for: Here's what's going to happen...

These verses tell us that Samson will lead the Israelites for twenty years - we find out later that wasn't just the length left of his leading, that was the length left of his life. If you were reading a book and it told you how much longer you were going to be here on earth - would you start living life differently? Let's look back at Samson

After this battle, he heads into Gaza and sleeps with a prostitute - right after God gave him a victory over the Philistines!! I hate to parallel this with weight loss, but since that's my industry - it seems like a good tie-in. Many times members will lose all the weight that they desire while they are doing Weight Watchers, but as soon as they stop coming to the meetings - they start gaining it all back. Once they've gotten what they want - they forget the process and what got them there. They go right back to their old habits of choosing the wrong foods.

Samson doesn't spend any time alone with God, doesn't seek His guidance, doesn't call on Him for encouragement. This may be why he was seeking satisfaction through sex and we all know the devil is happy to provide that distraction for us. If you knew you only had 20 years left to fulfill God's purpose - how would you choose to live it? Like Samson, knowing that he was chosen by God so his place in heaven was secure and he could live life how he wanted? The funny thing is, as Christians, we ARE chosen by God and there IS a book written that says how much longer we'll have here on earth (God has it) - the question is - how will we make a difference for Him during our short time on earth and are we really seeking to serve Him or ourselves?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Samson - It's Not You, It's Me.

Judges 15:16-18 Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men."When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?"

I have a hard time empathizing with anyone who makes the statement, "I'm mad at God". Not that I don't sympathize with what they might be going through - whether a loved one has died or a serious illness has come over them - but to say they're mad at God seems a little bit . . . silly. The attitude that Samson has in these verses is the same as that person. God has given Samson victory over so many of the Philistines and now he has the nerve to tell God that He's not taking care of his physical need for water.

Who do we think we are? Beyond the fact the God has made it clear how much He loves each and every one of us, the promise that He will always provide for us and sent His only son to die so we don't have to spend an eternity without Him - how dare we ever think that God does not have our best interests at heart - let alone 'be mad at Him'. God is more than well aware of the tragedies that we face in our every day lives. The child who's health won't get better, the job we just got laid off of - but this is not His fault. In fact, it's OUR fault. God made it very clear what sin would cause - yet we spend our lives waving sin aside as if it was unimportant to pay any attention to it. The little white lie, the small rumor behind the desk, the small tweak on the income tax - all sin - all punishable.

Ellen DeGeneres made a comment that the church should have better things to do than fight the marriage amendment in California - like feed the hungry. Fighting sin is just one of the many things that Christians
need to do. Homosexuality - whether Ellen likes it or not - is sin - and just like all the other sins, it should not be tolerated. God loves all of us and doesn't want ANY sin to be committed. Since none of us are perfect, we know this is a struggle - but we need to remember that this is not what God intended for us. Jesus came down and died on a cross because we can't stop this sinning - it's time He gets credit - instead of blame.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samson - Juicer?

Judges 15:9-15 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?"He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves." "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

Why Samson hasn't been turned into a recent major motion movie is beyond me. This one man has already killed many of the enemy and when bound by his own people and ready to be handed over to the Philistines, he miraculously breaks free and kills - yet another - thousand men. Can we name a movie equal? Pierce Brosnan as James Bond? Bruce Willis in Die Hard? Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible? This is the stuff movies are made of!!

The difference? Samson was real. Not that any of these actors didn't work hard fulfilling the role of the character they played - but in their real life, not a one of them grabbed pieces of a carcass and plowed through some terrorists after the turn of the century.

Samson's own men wanted to hand him over to the enemy and he willingly agreed to go. How confident are we in God to be willing to do that? Are we willing to take a stand for Christ because we know He is more powerful than anything we can come across. Are we confident that our strength, in Him, can defeat even the worst of enemies? Are we willing to take the offensive and say boldly "Abortion is wrong", "The Act of Homosexuality is wrong", "Infidelity is wrong" - and not be afraid of the repercussion of society.

Samson was just a man. He didn't work out every day. Didn't eat raw eggs for breakfast and hit the gym in the afternoon. He didn't indulge in steroids or other mass muscle producing drugs. His source of strength came from the same place we need to get it today. God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us - Samson knew it - when will we?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Samson - An eye for an eye just causes blindness.

Judges 15:6-8 When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

In 1992 in Los Angeles, the reports of the Rodney King incident raced over the airwaves and television stations. The seemingly senseless beatings by white police officers to the African American Mr. King rocked the attitudes of the community. The tension between the races in California remained strong.

The Philistines - unknowingly - have started their own war. Samson has burned their towns and they have retaliated by killing his 'ex'-wife and father. Samson in turn, slaughters many of them. This is now a vicious cycle.

While we know that God's purpose for Samson is to destroy the Philistines, there is a lesson inside of this. As true as we see it in the life of Samson - as true as it was in Los Angeles - it is true today. Violence begets violence. It only takes one to walk away. It can be as simple as a soft response to a spouses' rant. It's not always easy to ignore the person cursing at you from his car or the upset parent who's kid just got outrun by yours.
Jesus didn't yell at the men who pounded the nails in His hands and He didn't threaten the men who thrust the crown of thorns on His head. What an example to follow - what a testament of unconditional love - what a Savior.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Samson - Revenge is sweet, so is Antifreeze.

Judges 15:1-5 1 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.

Remember in February of 2003 when a South Korean Subway system was set on fire? A homemade fire bomb in a milk carton was thrown into the subway system and was immediately set ablaze. The fire grew too quickly for many to escape and, because of technical malfunctions, the subway car doors sealed shut leaving many passengers to be burned to death. Almost 200 people died that day. What would cause someone to do this? The man who was arrested was 56 years old. He had been in an accident and partly paralyzed. He was treated with poor medical treatments and became violent and depressed. This was the result.

Samson has just come back from his journeys and now realizes his wife is with someone else. Off he goes again on the Philistines. Samson, again, is not answering some higher calling - he is angry and he is getting revenge. We can see the hurt Samson is going through - even though we know it is of his own making.

On September 11, 2001. Nineteen men went on a mission because they were told to give their life for a higher meaning - in doing so - nearly 3,000 American lives were lost. Should we be mad at those men? Should we be mad at the arsonist in South Korea? Should we be mad at Samson? We SHOULD be mad at Satan. These are all examples of people, just like us, who were brought into this world as sinners and needed the salvation of Jesus - but Satan took a hold of them and did whatever he could to stop God's plan. What are we doing to stop Satan? For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Those are God's words, not mine (Ephesians 6:12). One day, the devil will be done and everyone will see Jesus, but in the meantime - satan will take down everyone he can - how can we help these people? How can we let them see Jesus in us when it is so obvious that Satan has control of them?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Samson - Stop Being So Selfish!

Judges 14:18-20 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding.

In the movie "Ocean's Eleven", A group of thieves and con artists get together to steal from the owner of a large casino. While their actions were wrong - because stealing is wrong - It was nice to see the owner, a rich, pompous, arrogant jerk, get something that was coming to him.

This is what has happened in this episode of 'Samson'. The wife has given up the information to the Philistines and they have won the bet. Samson - who has lost his temper - heads down to Ashkelon and kills 30 men, steals their clothes, so that he can pay up on his bet. The questions is, why would the Lord give Samson power to pay on a gambling debt?

God's purpose is so much bigger than what's right in front of our face. It was never about the gambling debt - Samson's purpose is to deliver Israel from the Philistines, and he just killed 30 of them in his anger. Maybe Samson has forgotten what the angel of Lord told his parents before he was born - maybe Samson doesn't care anymore, he's just living for himself.

God has a purpose for each one of us. We may not know what it is, but He does. We can choose to live our own life, like Samson, and be humiliated because of our pride, left by a spouse who was a bad choice, or any of the other things we will read about in Samson's life - but regardless - God's purpose WILL be fulfilled. Are we willing to do it God's way and reap the benefits of the purpose He has set up for us? Or will we be stubborn and try it our way and suffer the consequences while God's plan still gets carried out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Samson - Jury Duty That No One Gets Out Of

Judges 14:16-17 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer."
"I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.

I enjoy watching the shows that have court room based scenes: Matlock, Law and Order, Shark, Perry Mason, Walker, Texas Ranger. In all these shows, there's that scene when they have the eye witness on the stand - the innocent person who's going to blow the case wide open with their testimony - and when asked the one question that will put the defendant away for life, they answer, "I've never seen that man before". Well you know it's coming because there's still a half an hour left until the shows over, but nonetheless it's very frustrating that they would lie on the stand. What we usually find out, during the rest of the show, is that the witness has been paid off or threatened. Without truly getting to know their character, there's no way to determine why they chose to act the way they did and lie on the stand.

At first glance in these verses, Samson's wife looks like a whiny, weasely woman. Someone who's working at Samson over and over to get what she wants. She cries all week long, she keeps asking him for the answer until he finally breaks down. THEN she turns around and tells the men the answer that she finally got from Samson. Going by this, Samson's wife does not seem like a good person at all - probably someone we don't want to know. However, if you remember in the last post, these same men threatened to burn down her house along with her whole family. I'm not sure about you, but I might do whatever it took to save my family as well.

The human nature in us takes one look at the 'sin' and declares it bad. While sin is bad, it should not be enough for us to dismiss a person. If we could take the time to find out the reason behind someone that's sinning, we might be able to help them. Just like in the court room scene - the rest of the show is usually spent helping the eye-witness, who was once supposed to be the hero, out of whatever trouble they're in. Did someone cut in front of you in line at the grocery store? Sure, they may just be a rude person, OR they may have a sick child at home and they're trying to rush back to get them some medicine. Did someone cut you off while driving and then honk their horn at you? Maybe they have bad driving skills and need manners, OR maybe they just had a fight with their spouse over an affair and they can't see straight through their hurt.

Are we willing to look past the sin and see the person?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Samson - Disney Goes Religious?

Judges 14:10-15 Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. When he appeared, he was given thirty companions."Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.""Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it."He replied,"Out of the eater, something to eat;out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer.On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?"

Did you ever see the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid"? I just love that movie. The music is so good and I have so many good memories of watching it. Do you remember the part where she is in her cove looking at all her treasures and rehashing what her father said about never being allowed to go to the surface because it was not a good place. Ariel's reflection is this, "I just don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things, could be bad."

I think that this is how we like to look at our country. How can a nation like America, that does such wonderful things, be bad? We send men who give their lives to help downtrodden countries - we form organizations that collect food and send it to those who have none - we sponsor research endeavors to solve disease problems like HIV and AIDS - we offer miracles to young children who are dying of Leukemia. We sponsor telethons to collect for fighting MS - we walk millions of miles to spread awareness of breast cancer - we spend millions of dollars of our hard earned money to save the rain forest and the whales. Yet, in this same country, 90,427 women were raped last year, 16,929 people were murdered, and 1,210,000 million unborn babies were killed at the choice of their parent.

These are big numbers to look at, but it really comes down to one thing - the individual. Overall, we are wonderful - but it only takes one wrong choice to make us seem bad. Samson is making bad choices. He has broken his vow by eating from a carcass, and now he is mocking that fact by making a riddle out of it. Samson is a good guy - we know he is, because God chose him. But he's not sharing God with his actions - making it look like he's not a good guy.

Can people look at us and see the good? Or do they see the sin - the bad stuff - that is weighing us down because we won't turn it over to Jesus.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Samson - Where's the beef?

Judges 14:8-9 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass.

Ever tell a lie? Maybe just a little white lie? Maybe a whopper? Either way - did you notice that for some reason, it never stopped there? You always think that will be the end of it, but it never is. If you were asked if you did your homework and you answered 'yes' and then your teacher sends a note to your mom when you didn't hand in the homework assignment. And sometimes, you think you've gotten away with it - but later on down the road it creeps back in again - and of course by this time you've forgotten what the whole story was to begin with...

I think Samson had different levels of strength. He obviously had physical strength, we see that every time the scripture reads, "and the Lord came upon him" he tears things apart. We also know that it was his hair that kept his physical strength going (according to the rules God had set forth). I believe he also had strength o
f character. but I think THAT strength was in his avoidance of unclean (dead) things (according to the rules God had set forth). It is in these verses that he breaks that vow. He eats from the dead lion - BIG No-No. But he doesn't lose his physical strength, we'll see in the next few verses how his strength of character seems to be completely gone.

Isn't that the way it is with sin in our life - like the little white lie. Samson had only broken one of the vows that were required of him, but it was slowly breaking down the whole of him. We may think it is just a 'small' sin - but it can eventually destroy us. That co-worker that you felt deserved to have a little gossip spread about them. The husband that will never find out. The 'one-time' and you'll never do it again. The little sip that won't hurt. The fudge on taxes that the government won't miss. The name-calling behind their back that they may never hear.

It may not affect you completely right away. It may not even be noticed by anyone at first. But be certain, it will clearly destroy you. The biggest problem in society today is not Bush, it's not Obama, it's not cancer and it's not AIDS - the biggest problem is sin. Jesus is the cure. It's time for a vaccination.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Samson - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Judges 14:4-7 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.

We sometimes, as parents, do stupid things. Like taking your kids to the grocery store right before dinner time. Not smart. All of a sudden, they want everything in the grocery store. If we don't pay attention, we walk our child right down the street of temptation. You tell your children they can't have any of their Halloween candy, but you leave the bucket out on the counter and then go take a nap. This is what was happening with Samson.

Samson's parents took him down to the vineyards of Timnah - remember, Samson is not allowed wine, yet this was the product of Timnah in the vineyards. Why would they even head that way? While he is there, he is attacked by a lion and the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon him and he was able to tear the lion apart. But he didn't mention that to his parents.

Are we forgetting to mention the miracles that come from God? Are we moving on in life, doing what we want to do, and never acknowledging the awesome blessings that God has given us? We may not be acquiring enough physical strength to rip a lion apart, but do we realize what a blessing it is to be able to go to work every morning? The strength that He gives us to make it through each day. That we have food to put in our mouths. That we have a free country to vote in. . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Samson - Shut Up and Listen.

Judges 13:24-25;14:1-3 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."

So Samson was born. We get nothing of his growing up years. We can assume that his mother and father have followed the rules set by the Lord. Especially since it tells us that the spirit of the Lord is now beginning to move in him.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get that sign for our children: "Now the Lord is really stirring in her - she should stop pouting whenever you say no".

As soon as the scripture mentions that the Lord is stirring in Samson, he does something against the advice of his parents - he wants a philistine woman. For those of us that know the story of Samson, this works out to glorify God, but for Samson's parents - this did not seem like the decision of someone who has the spirit of the Lord guiding him.

Why is it when we feel called of God to do something - immediately we are tempted by outside sources. It's not always a blatant thing. You may be feeling that God is calling you to spend each morning in quiet time with Him - but as soon as you make that commitment, the dog starts barking at 4:00 a.m. and you have to go take him for a walk. You feel God call you to give money to a needy family and your dishwasher breaks down - requiring you to spend more money that you had planned. You feel led to start participating in a woman's bible study group in the evening and then find out that your boss is going to need you to work overtime for the next month.

It comes down to this - God is not going to ask you how often you walked your dog. He's not going to ask you how much money you paid on appliances. He's not going to ask you how much overtime you worked. He will ask you - Did you listen and obey when I called you to serve?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Samson - The Party's Just Beginning

Judges 13:12-23 So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy's life and work?" The angel of the LORD answered, "Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her." Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you."The angel of the LORD replied, "Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD." (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.)Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?"He replied, "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. " Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD. "We are doomed to die!" he said to his wife. "We have seen God!"But his wife answered, "If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this."

The interaction between Samson's parents are just so amusing. The Lord has appeared again to the mom and she gets the husband and he asks the question, "What is our son supposed to do for a living?" That's a valid question. One we would all have. One we probably have today. What will my kids make of themselves? What does God want for them? How should I direct them? But the amazing thing is this: The Lord only repeats what He's already said to Samson's mom. The rest is up to God.

We are forever doubting the power of our God. He gives us His word with His guidelines and the rest is up to Him. We just have to listen along the way as He leads us. It is not up to us to determine what our kids will be, we can only pray that God will guide them to make the right choices. The same holds true for us - we cannot possibly foretell the outcome of our day - but we can ask God to make us aware of what He needs for us to do during that day.

Toward the end, when Manoah realized that it was, in fact, the Lord that they had been talking to, he immediately begins fretting and fearing for his life - thinking he would be destroyed. Now it's the wife who lends the voice of common sense: Why would He tell us we're going to raise a child for His calling and then kill us? Again, so applicable to our own lives. . .

God has a purpose for us. We don't have to know what it is to be usable by God. It could be as big as an urging to head to Africa to minister to those who have never heard the Word or as simple as voting at the election polls. We have an obligation as Christians to seek out God's purpose for us - a daily asking and wanting to be used of Him. His mission is great and I'm excited to be a part of it - I hope you are too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Samson - A Spy Among Us

Judges 13:9-11 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, "He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!" Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, "Are you the one who talked to my wife?" "I am," he said.

In a small town, a flood was coming and word was sent to evacuate. One farmer
sat on his porch and began to pray. Shortly afterward a rescue team came by and the farmer told the rescue team. "I'm waiting for God, He'll save me." Soon the water rose and the farmer was forced to the second story of his house. The rescue boat came but he told them. "I'm waiting for God He'll save me." Soon the farmer was forced to the top of his roof. The rescue helecopter came but he told them. "I'm waiting for God, He'll save me." The water rose and the farmer drowned. On his arrival in heaven he asked God, "Why didn't you save me? I waited for you but you never came." God replied. "I came three times, you wouldn't get in the boat."

I thought of this story when I read these verses of scripture. Why, when Manoah was the one to pray, did God send the Lord back to the wife? Why the middle man instead of directly through to us? I think sometimes God uses His people to send us a message. It's a blessing. Have you ever been touched by a sermon that convicted you right when you needed it? Or you got a bonus on your paycheck after you prayed for God to help you financially? A doctor giving you a prescription to take after you prayed for healing? Did you ever think that God is using this to answer your prayer?

What about us? Have you ever felt called to do something for someone and can't explain it? A call or email to someone you haven't thought of in awhile? A financial gift to someone for no reason? Isn't it exciting to think that we can be used of God? Almost more exciting than receiving an answer to prayer - to actually be used as an answer to prayer. How can we be that for Him?


Then listen.