* notes from my preaching last night at The River 

Samson_by_christians

 

 

There is one guy in the bible I just don’t like.

Samson.

He’s a jerk.

But you know, he often makes it into children’s bibles. I don’t know why. I mean, the guy is strong, kind of the wolverine of the bible. The children’s bibles always picture him with strong muscles and beautiful flowing hair. He even makes into Hebrews 11 which is like a hall of fame in the bible.

But he is a womanizer and as I said a jerk.

Samson was called to live a consecrated life but instead he lived an out of control life. He was called to be a great hero and while he does some heroic acts he has some serious flaws that detract from his potential and purpose and at the end of his story we find him broken and blind destroying a temple kamikaze style.

He showed such promise. Like Samuel, like Isaac, like John the Baptist he had a auspicious supernatural beginning. His parents, barren, had a divine encounter with an angel and the promise of a son. Talk about DESTINY!

But he is a jerk.

Tonight I want to talk about some of the lessons we can learn from his life – about living consecrated, living set apart, not out of control.

 

But before we get into that I want to add a disclaimer.

Christianity is not about behaviour. It isn’t about a set of rules and regulations, do this, don’t do that. It is not about moral obligations, listening to Amy Grant, and being nice. It’s not about putting our big girl pants on and going hard so that we can get brownie points from God. So often we can reduce it to a system and a formula and we naturally want to try and make our own way, be our own king and saviour.

When I am talking about consecration, about being set apart, I am talking about living in response to God. He saves us and we live in response to His grace.

 

Perry Noble says: "Here’s the dangerous thing about Jesus: He’s not after your behaviour; he’s after your heart. Make no mistake about it. Jesus is going to relentlessly and passionately pursue your heart. Even when your behaviour tricks everybody else, it just doesn’t trick Jesus. He’s coming after the heart."

 

But behaviour is the evidence of consecration.

Wikipedia defines the word Consecration as: Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; an antonym is to desecrate.

Consecration is a heart response to God that is then lived out in our real life. Show me a set apart heart and you’ll see a life lived to please God, a life surrendered to God’s ways. It’s reflected in the things we do and the things we don’t do.

 

So back to Samson. Samson was an arrogant, immoral, and irresponsible leader. His life was in many ways a waste. He was the leader of the people of Israel for twenty years, yet he accomplished far more in his death than he had with his entire life. If he had only sought God, how differently things would have turned out.

Instead of living a life set apart for God he lived a life that was out of control.

There are a few things we can learn from samson’s life but one that really stands out is that its important to listen to the right voices. In life we have voices coming from all directions and it can have a profound affect on who we are and where we are going.

 

The voices you listen to determine your destination.

 

Samson had a number of voices in his head.

 

1. Samson listened to the voices of his friends

While its healthy to have good people in our lives who we can be real with and who can be real to us – we can see in samson’s life that his people were not good people.

His friends who told him to party up and be the man. They made bad bets and crazy dares. They stirred up his ego and totally led him astray.

 

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

 

Samson was always getting in trouble because of the people he hung out with. The reality is that Samson CHOSE to be around those people, he made deliberate intentional choices to be in bad company. He also didn’t make deliberate intentional choices to surround himself with good people.

 

“Show me your friends and I will show you your future. Show me the five people who are closest to you and I will show you who you will be in five years.”

Studies show that you are an average of the five people who are closest to you.

 

The flip side of the proverb above is:

Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Choose wisely who you surround yourself with. Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at the people you hang out with.

 

When I was 17 – and had just become a Christian – this was a major for me in a big way. I hung round with kids that totally influenced me to make the wrong choices. We were into binge drinking and dumb stuff. Let’s just say it was definitely leading into out of control living!

I had to make a choice. Was I REALLY going to follow Jesus or just live for a temporary buzz. A very temporary buzz. What I was doing wasn’t satisfying my heart because ONLY living for God can.

At first it was really hard. But it was also really good. And so so worth it. I don’t think I would be standing here today, 21 years later if I didn’t learn the lesson about surrounding yourself with the right people.

Think about who you want to be. What dreams do you have? What is God calling you to? Surround yourself with dreamers and builders – people with vision who are building the kingdom of God. People who seek God first, people who love His ways. People who will be a voice for consecration, not a voice for carnage! Who are you listening to?

 

In every generation, the world is changed by a few people, who stand for something, do not fear unpopularity and dare to make a difference. ~ Nicky Gumbel

You are called to be that person. Who are you listening to?

 

 

 

  1. Samson listened to the voice of his wife

Samson listened to the voice of his wife Delilah. I looked up what the name Delilah means. It means : languishing, lovelorn, seductive, dainty and she who weakens. He chose to listen to someone who was small minded, selfish, manipulative, who didn’t have his best interest at heart and who robbed him of his strength of character. In fact both his wives fit this description. Both of them manipulated him and led him astray. Although the Bible never comes right out and says it, most scholars agree that Delilah was probably a temple prostitute—after all, she wouldn’t have been the first prostitute Samson visited (16:1). For that matter the Bible never identifies her as a Philistine either, but based on her dealings with them, as we will see, she undoubtedly was. Samson’s love (or at least lust) for Delilah kept him coming back to the Philistine city of Sorek to spend the night with her. Samson’s presence, however, never went unnoticed and his frequent visits to Delilah’s house were no exception. Soon, five Philistine kings—the heads of the entire Philistine nation—went personally to talk with Delilah and demanded that she discover the secret of Samson’s strength. In other words, they wanted to know what his Kryptonite was, how they could subdue him and rob him of his great strength. Samson’s wife was in a position of influence. She could have steered him into a life of consecration and leadership but instead had him bound and blinded. He was destined to be a hero and instead he ends up screwed up, betrayed, imprisoned and blinded. Talk about a plot twist.

Your husband and wife is meant to be your biggest cheerleader and your greatest critic in a good way. They need to be real with about where you’re at in life and where you are going. Choose wisely. Choose character. Don’t get blinded by infatuation and lust. Be smart about this one because “I do” is forever.

 

Who are you listening to?

 

 

 

  1. Samson listened his own voice.

No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself. You interpret, organize, and analyze what’s going on inside and outside of you. You talk to yourself about the past, you talk to yourself about the future, and you talk to yourself about what you’re experiencing in the present.

Samson listened to his own voice that said “”ït feels good, just do it”.

 

There is a war inside you.

 

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

In our very real every day life we will have to make choices – obey God or obey ourselves. Spirit vs flesh. God vs self. Him vs me.

There are times when God calls us to make the hard choices – to deny ourselves, to not just do what feels good. What you have to understand is that God is a wonderful wise heavenly Father and that He doesn’t just make a rule to be a kill joy. His boundaries are to keep us safe and protected, to bless us.

 

"The more God loves you, and the more you love God, the more expensive will you find it to sin. An ordinary sinner sins cheaply: the child of God sins very dearly." Charles Spurgeon

Behaviour is a love problem.

Behaviour matters. John 14:15 makes it really black and white – If you love me, keep my commands.

We have to connect our WHAT – our behaviour – to the WHY. Why is it important that we live consecrated? Why is it important we live our lives in a certain way according to what it says in this book? Find the why – the heart – and the living it out will follow.

Too often we live a watered down lifestyle, camoflauging in with the world, doing what we want, when we want. We may look great on a Sunday but if you did surveillance on us during the week… yeah…

 

Before there was YOLO there was WWJD. What would Jesus do?

This is the big question we actually need to ask ourselves all the time as a determining factor for how we live our life.

Would Jesus watch that show?

Would Jesus say that?

Would Jesus flip the bird?

Would Jesus watch porn?

Would Jesus steal from the work kitty?

Would Jesus be mean, spiteful, lustful, prideful?

 

In a world where following Christ is decreed to be a subversive and illegal activity if you were been accused of being a believer, arrested, and dragged before a court would there be enough evidence to convict you?

 

Who are you listening to?

 

 

  1. Samson should have listened to the voice of God.

We often face circumstances when the circumstances say one thing, but God promises another thing. Are we going to live by our feelings or by what the Spirit of God says?

Paul faced this very thing in Acts 27 when he was on the boat to Rome. He is a prisoner heading to trial and if that isn’t bad enough they encounter a storm and are heading for shipwreck and destruction of the titanic kind. Paul had warned the captain prior to them setting sail that their plan was flawed and would end badly.

Paul warned them, verse 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.

Paul was a tentmaker. Not a sailor. Not a pilot. Not a ship owner. But he had supernatural revelation because He listened to the voice of God. When the storm struck Paul held fast to the Word of God because greater is He in us that he that is in the world and God is greater than any storm and any circumstance in your life.

In the midst of the storm Paul chose to keep his eyes fixed on God and to not listen to the voice of the people surrounding him. The other prisoners and guards and the seamen were freaking out but Paul didn’t rely on his feelings or the voices around him but heard the One voice that did matter. The voice of the One who holds the universe in His hands, who breathed out the stars and has the power to split a sea, shake prison doors down, raise the dead…

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

There are times when we are going to have to make a choice.

What voice are we going to listen to?

 

 

So how do we learn to listen to the voice of God?

 

  1. Know that God speaks and have faith that He is talking to YOU

John 10:4 says And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. And in John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

If you are breathing God is speaking to you.

  1. Carve out time to listen and recognise His voice

James 4:8 says Come near to God, and he will come near to you.

Just as back in the olden days, before caller id, you used to learn the voice of your friend, so when they called you’d know who it was, it’s the same with God. As you practice listening, as you speak and have conversation with Him, you learn to recognize His voice, be it through the Word, through hearing Him in the voice He speaks on the inside to you with, be it through other people or songs or whatever. God speaks in many ways but it is HIS voice that you will hear and it will become familiar to you

 

Yip that’s it. Believe He speaks and then listen to what He says.

 

My favourite passage about God speaking contains one of my most favourite words in the bible. BUT.

1 Corinthians 2:9-14

As it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 BUT God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Be someone that listens not to your friends, not to yourself, but to God first and foremost.

 

 

Don’t put your hope in the hair

 

Undoubtedly though despite having an out of control life Samson did some amazing things and changed the balance of power for Israel.

God had called him to take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

It’s interesting, when Delilah was wrangling Samson’s secret source of strength they thought they’d cracked it with the shave job. Samson said his strength was in his hair and when they cut it, his strength was gone and he was left defenceless.

But never once did God say that Samson’s strength was in his hair. The secret of Samson’s strength was that it was the Spirit of God who came upon him and supernaturally empowered him in the moment for every heroic feat.

 

In every instance when Samson did a mighty act the Spirit of God came upon him.

 

Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands

Judges 14:19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him.

Judges 15:14 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.

And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him

The Spirit of the LORD took control of him

The LORD’s spirit empowered him

 

 

Our strength is not in our talents.

Its not in our gifts.

Its not in our personality type.

Its not in how much we know.

Its not in how much we do.

Its not that we’re good looking, or that we’ve got it together.

We cannot base our source of strength on any gift or talent or ability. It comes from God alone. We mess up. We don’t have it together. We are human.

 

Just like Samson was. We are all like Samson.

 

As much as we’re wanting to live set apart we are also out of control. Every single one of us. But God loves us and pulls us in anyway. Self reliance will lead to slavery and stress and being even more out of control.

The thing I love most of all about the story of Samson is that despite being a screwed up hero God used him.

Which gives me hope and courage. Because I’m a screwed up hero. And you’re a screwed up hero too.

I don’t have to have all my boxes ticked and my life perfect to love God and serve Him. We don’t clean ourselves up to get saved and we don’t clean ourselves up to stay saved. We’re all messed up an on a journey of becoming whole. We’re sinners saved by grace and God is at work to transform us, but it’s a lifetime process that is only complete on the other side of this life.

The strength is not in the hair. Don’t put your hope in your hair. The strength is the grace of God. Put your hope in that.

 

Grace

Though this is a message about living a set apart life instead of a life out of control it is also a message about grace. We make choices and responses to God, not to earn His favour and approval. Our behaviour comes out of our heart.

You might think that I’m contradicting myself from earlier – as I was challenging us to live set apart, not out of control, to surround ourselves with good people and to live in a way that honours and pleases God, and now I’m saying that it doesn’t matter…

Because it does matter.

But it doesn’t matter.

What makes the difference is Grace. We’re not living our life to earn salvation or measure up, to be the man or woman of faith and power of the hour… we live our lives in response to God’s amazing love and grace, that we are imperfect but Jesus came and lived and died a perfect life to cover our imperfections…

Often we use the imperfections, the weaknesses and flaws of our life to disqualify us from stepping out and serving God. We use our past and our present to rule out future dreams. We forget grace and think that if we don’t measure up then we’re strike, you’re out.

We say I’m not ___________ enough. You fill in the blank.

I’m not holy enough, spiritual enough, disciplined enough, gifted enough, good enough.

But God says that in Christ, because of Jesus, I am enough. Not because of anything I am but because He is the I AM. Not because of anything I am but because of who He is and what He has done.

In fact 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

When you don’t feel like you’ve got it Christ in you is always enough!

 

God can do anything for anyone anywhere any time through anyone He chooses.

 

God can do anything for anyone, anywhere, any time – even after hooking up with Delilah, even after you’re greatest mistake, your worst choice, your biggest regret – through anyone He chooses

 

God used Jonah – a runner.

Peter – a denier.

Rahab – a prostitute.

Lazarus – a dead guy.

David – a murdering adulterer.

Samson – a jerk.

 

Grace makes the difference.

 

Your life might make Samson look like he is an actor on Seseme Street but that doesn’t matter. There is no sin too great, no shame too great, no mistake too great, no past too great, no present too great that the blood of Jesus cannot wash clean and consecrate you. Jesus consecrates us. He makes us acceptable to God. You will face strong and seductive temptation today, but the grace of your Saviour is more powerful than the temptations you face. Grace will make the difference. Grace saves us. It keeps us. It holds us close to God. It covers our sin. It makes us acceptable to God. It calls us a saint instead of a sinner. It says you can instead of you cant. From the cross Jesus declared it is finished. It is finished. You are okay. You are welcome. You are free. You are His.

You may feel like a screw up but Jesus says you belong to me. You are set free. The enemy would love for you to think you have gone too far or messed up too badly. But you have got to remember that Jesus took every bit of your sin upon Himself.

If you don’t know Jesus tonight as your Saviour and Lord – there is a moment coming up where you can change that. Jesus will take away the guilt and wipe the slate clean. A new beginning. A fresh start. He will make you innocent and free before God.

You do not need to live a life out of control with no hope.

If you do know Jesus know that He loves you and calls you out of that and into this – into consecration, into walking with Him.

I believe there are people here tonight that need to change 2 things. Who they surround themselves with and who they listen to. Including themselves.

Don’t let yourself make dumb decisions. Come on!

Don’t let other people dictate who you are and who you are becoming.

The voices you listen to determine your direction and destination.

Listen to the voice of God. Listen to Him say I love you, I have called you, I have chosen you, I have purposed you. Listen to Him say this is the way walk in it.

I also believe that there are people here tonight that need a new revelation of God’s grace and love towards them. You are holding yourself back because of things you are struggling with when God opens the door and says “come in.”

Jesus has made the way. Jesus makes you acceptable. Jesus makes you right with God. Jesus makes the difference.

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