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Samson - Week 3

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As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. Well, I'm so glad to have all of you with us at all of our LifeChurches, our Network Churches, those of you from places around the world joining us at Church Online. We are in the middle of a four-week series called Samson. This one is primarily for the men, and I thank God that I'm hearing again and again that God is doing a significant work in the hearts of so many men. I'm also thrilled to hear that there are some chicks in the house that are getting something out of this as well. So, next week we'll wrap this up with my very favorite of all four weeks that will be next week. In case you're just joining us, let me give you a little bit of the back story on this very frustrating character named Samson. If you don't know his story, Samson was actually called by God and set apart from birth to help deliver the Israelites from the oppressive hands of the Philistines. Samson was given a supernatural strength in order to do what God called him to do. But we're going to watch as is so common with men that have so much potential, Samson again and again makes bad decisions. In the first week, we looked at three attitudes that make strong men weak. The first attitude is lust; 'I want it', as he pursued a Philistine woman, something he was forbidden to do. The second attitude is entitlement; 'I deserve it', as he went and touched something unclean as was forbidden in his Nazirite vows. The third problem we see is pride; as he puts himself around alcohol. Again, something he wasn't supposed to do, as he says, 'I can handle it, I want it, I deserve it and I can handle it!' We saw that our spiritual enemy, Satan, loves to make strong men weak. The good news is though; we serve a God who loves to make weak men strong. Could somebody say amen to that? The second week we watched as one of the common problems with men, Samson was emotion driven, not Spirit led. We watched him give in to the common emotions that will hurt men so often; the emotion of anger and of pride. We saw Samson as with many men, we want to be the main character of the story. But we found out God is always the main character. And at the end of last week, we watched as Samson, after slaying 1,000 men, he kind of came to himself in the middle of a desert and realized, 'I'm in big trouble. I am now public enemy number one. The Philistines will come after me in full force, they'll either capture me or kill me, or I am going to die of thirst out here in the desert.' And we learned the principle that when a man allows his deepest need to drive him to God, God will meet his deepest need. We pick up the story, we'll relook again at what we looked at last week and then we'll take off from there. Samson in the desert, he's very thirsty and he cries out to God. Judges 15, verse 19 says: Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank... Men, help me out. The Bible says: When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived... As he turned back to God, he again got strength and was revived. The Bible says: ...So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Verse 20 says: Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. Let's pause for a moment. If you're not careful, you can read just right past verse 20, that is really an amazing verse. In fact, it's kind of like the first really good news we see in this whole story, because in one verse it captures twenty years of apparent faithfulness. Samson had just had an experience with the Living God as he was revived and refreshed and all of a sudden now, he's on the right track doing what he was created to do, and one verse summarizes it: ...for the next twenty years he led faithfully as a judge over Israel. We're going to watch though tragically, a guy who is doing things well; honoring God, serving Him, as many of you may be right now. By the end of this study today, we're going to see a guy with so much God-given potential making poor decisions, ending up with his eyes gouged out, his hands shackled; he's the laughing stock in front of the enemies, the Philistines. And it raises the question, how could a man with so much strength, with so much God-ordained potential, mess up his life so badly? And the answer is our key thought for the day if you're taking notes is this: Samson didn't ruin his life all at once. He ruined it one step at a time. The same way many men today will mess up their lives. Most men don't do it all at once. How do they do it? Help me out, most men mess up their lives one step at a time. Let's watch it unfold in Judges 16, verse one. We just read he had 20 good years and then the Bible says: One day... Everybody say, one day! One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. Stop! Wait a second! I mean, here we have 20 good years and then the Bible says, "One day". It's interesting to me that if you've ever read the story about King David, when he went and had the affair with Bathsheba, the story starts out the very same way. Scripture says: One day, when kings are supposed to be off to war, David wasn't at war, he was walking around the palace and he saw Bathsheba and he was like, 'Whoa! Check that out!' And it was just one day, one day. One day men can start making bad decisions that lead them into a step-by-step downward spiral, and we're going to watch as this happens. One day, Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went to spend the night with her... Verse two: ...The people of Gaza... These are the Philistines: They were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and they 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." Now, what's the significance of this? Well, Gaza was the headquarters of the Philistines. So, our idiot here, Samson, goes into Philistine territory, right into leadership square to get a prostitute. He travels 25 miles to go and risk 20 years of faithfulness. Now, that raises the question: Who would be so stupid to risk so much for so little? And the answer is, men do it every single day, don't they? All of the time; I mean, good marriage, good integrity, good ministry, good career. All of these good things and they'll risk it for a quick sexual hit, for a quick high, for a quick experience. Who would risk so much for something so little? Well the problem is, men do it all of the time. Now think about this: Since I'm a pastor, I only work one day a week! Actually I work two, I work Saturdays and Sundays! I'm just joking! But because I don't have anything to do in the week except for watch my Bible hover above the desk, I ask myself, how many steps would a person have to take to walk 25 miles? And so, I did a little research and I found that to walk 25 miles to where he went to Gaza, it would take about 56,250 steps. That's what I do during the week! Okay, so think about this, it would take 56,250 of these. How do most men ruin their life? Not all at once, but they do it one of these at a time. The other thing to think about, which is pretty amazing, is to realize that Samson also had 56,250 opportunities to say, "This is stupid! What are you doing?" And yet, he didn't do it! Here's the problem, most men don't plan to mess up their lives. I don't know a single man ever who said, "You know what? My ten year goal is to be a perverted sex addict. What I want to do is I want to be so locked in this pornographic world of lust that I live in a fantasy world and can't have any kind of real meaningful intimate experience because all I can do is objectify women and get off in this fantasy world." I don't know a single guy that does it, but what happens is, the guy's like maybe on the computer and sees an ad and he goes, "Oh!" Click to another ad and click and "Whoa!" Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click! And then over time, he ends up in a very bad place. He doesn't get there all at once, how does he get there? He gets there one step at a time. I don't know any guys who say, "You know what? I want to become broke! Mega broke, I mean like embarrassingly broke!" But what happens? A guy says, "Oh, boat, car, gulf clubs, computer! Oh, gambling, multilevel marketing, maybe this will get me out of it! Start a business even though I can't balance my checkbook." And you know, step by step by step, one day he wakes up and is in big, big trouble. I don't know a single guy who has ever said, "Man, I've got a good marriage and my kids like me and things are going well, I think I'll mess it up with an affair!" You know, "I was just walking along one day and like there was this bed with this woman and I just fell into it! Next thing you know, it's odd, I don't know how it happened!" Here's what happens, work with me, I've been doing this all weekend and I've got to have some fun! So, what he does is he's walking along and he's like, "Oh, she's cute!" Flirty flirty and "Oh, check this stuff out!" A little text and a little touch and step by step what does he do? He ends up getting himself in big trouble. He doesn't say check this out, they don't care. But anyway, what happens to a man? He doesn't ruin his life all at once, how does he do it? He does it one step at a time. So, what I want to do is show you Samson's small steps to big destruction and we see three in God's Word. The first thing we see: 1. Samson taunted his enemy. Again and again, watch as he taunts the Philistines. Verse three: But Samson lay there... He's shacking up with this user-friendly girl: the middle of the night. Then he got up and he took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with 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. Now, what did he just do? He's with the girl; the Philistines are out waiting for them. He goes under the cover of the night, out to their gates and he takes the doors and he rips them off. Now, these were not hollow-core doors. One commentary I read said they'd weigh about 700 pounds. He rips them off and basically he's flipping off the Philistines. The doors symbolized their security. He said, 'You think you're safe? You're not safe around me!' He lifts the doors up 700 pounds above his head, which is kind of how I work out during the week, I lift over...anyway, and this guy is strong! He's lifting this up and he's saying, 'You think you're safe, you're not safe! And what does he do? He taunts the enemy. As many men often under estimate and forget about the reality that we have a spiritual enemy whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. Scripture says: Our enemy roars around like a lion seeking someone to devour. Men I hope you'll understand, Satan doesn't want to just wound you or hurt you but he wants to destroy you, to devour you. In case you're new, what general family does the lion come from? They come from the cat family! Just, Satan, lion; you see the connection? Now for the record, a lot of you are like complaining about my cat jokes. I want you to know they're just jokes, okay, they're just jokes! I actually have two cats, okay, because my kids love cats. I do hate them; not my kids, the cats! I hate cats, but I love my kids just a little bit more than I hate cats. So, we have two cats; one's name is Freddy, who is decent as cats go. The other one, Binky, oh my gosh, Binky is a bad cat! I taunt the enemy, Binky, at times. But just so you know I'm not a horrible guy, Binky only has three legs because when Binky was a kitten, he got hit by a car. And your pastor who doesn't like cats, with compassion from only God on high, I paid eight hundred American dollars for surgery after surgery after surgery for this stupid cat! Okay, so if you think I'm all bad, I paid that much money for this cat! Now he's got three legs, that's why I call him tripod! My kids don't like that, but so what I do is my cat will sit up on the counter top where my food goes, which is disgusting! And so, when the cat's there I just taunt the enemy! I go up and I go, "Huh!" like this, "Huh!" to the cat, because he's only got three legs and he can't swipe me because if he does he'll fall, like that! "Huh!" So the other day I go to Binky, "Huh!" like this, and he can't swipe, so he goes, "Huh!" and bites me right in the nose! So, for all of you cat lovers, there's one for your category, Binky bit me on the nose! Anyway, I just thought I'd tell you that because it makes me feel better just to get it off my chest! Men, we will taunt and underestimate the enemy by putting ourselves in places of temptation over and over and over again. Some of you guys are like real different from the world and you want to honor God with sexual purity and yet, you go out in stupid places. Or you know, "I'm going to wait and not have sex until I'm married." And then you get a girlfriend and you're like, "Hey, stay the night!" You're just putting yourself in a stupid place. Or married guy, you go on a business trip and everybody is going out for drinks afterward. You're like, "Hey, I can handle this, it's no big deal!" And so, you go to the bar and have one, two, three, four, and there's women everywhere. What are you doing? You're just taunting the enemy. Or financially you're strapped. You're tight and you're like, "Hey, let's just go walk around the car lot and just walk around!" What are you doing? You're taunting the enemy. Here's the deal; a lot of us, we think we're okay, we think we're standing firm. Here's what Scripture says, the Bible says in First Corinthians 10:12: So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! Be careful. Samson, the first thing he did is he taunted the enemy. The second thing is: 2. He rationalized the same old sin. Remember the first week? The first thing we saw him do wrong was go after the Philistine woman. You don't go after women who worship false gods. Here we see him again, second time. Verse four says: Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was... What? Her name was: ...Delilah. Now every time I hear that I think about dedicating a song, a love song to somebody! Delilah, some of you are going, "What are you talking about?" I don't know, I don't know where that came from! But here's what he's doing, now this is the third time he's messing around with a Philistine woman. And men, we're often masters at rationalizing the same old sin. I don't know how you do it, but for a lot of us it's like, "Hey, this is just my one thing. I mean, I'm a pretty good guy; this is my one thing, my one thing!" Or hey, "It's nobody's business anyway. This isn't hurting anybody. I mean, if nobody knows, what's the big deal? I'm only looking! If she'd do a little more I wouldn't have to...this is just how I get through things! Hey, it doesn't really matter; it's nobody's business anyway!" And men are the masters at rationalizing the same old sin, and that's what Samson does. Watch what happened in verse five. The Bible says: The rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah and said, "See if you can lure Samson into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. And so, what they did is they bribed her, they gave her a lot of silver, a lot of cash. And she said, 'Okay, I'll try to get the secret out of him.' And you can read this in verses 6-14. I'll give you the real short version, she says: 'Tell me the secret of your great strength.' And he says, 'Well...' And he tells a lie. He says: 'If you get seven straps...' Actually, my version says thongs, but whenever I think of thongs I think of shoes, or something else. And so, I'm going with straps, because he's saying, 'You've got to tie me up with that,' so let's go with straps, okay! So, he says: ' take seven straps and you tie me up with those and I'll become as weak as any other man.' And so he goes to sleep and they tie him up with these seven straps. And then she says: 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' And he breaks out and so then she's like, 'Oh, you lied to me. Tell me what it really is!' He said, 'Ropes, it's brand new ropes! Tie me up with them and I'll be as weak as any other man.' He goes to sleep and they tie him up. And then she's like, 'Samson, the Philistines...' And he comes down and she's like, 'You lied to me again! Tell me the real thing!' He says, 'Okay, it's my hair.' And he's getting close to telling the truth but not quite. He says, 'If you take my braids and you weave them into the fabric and you stick them with this pin. Then I'll be as weak as any man.' And so they do that. And she says, 'Samson, they're on you!' And he comes out and she's like, 'That's enough! I want to know! Tell me!' And watch what she does. Man, this is good! Verse 15: She said to him, "How can you..." Hang on, my woman voice isn't working very good! I'm trying okay! Let's just stick with the man voice, you imagine! She says: "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." Now ladies, if you're feeling a little left out because all of the men are being convicted by God in this message and you're like, "Craig, sock it to me! Give me something to feel conviction about!" Ladies, I dedicate this to you! Verse 16, men help, let's include the women, just say it: With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was... What men? Somebody in the house help me out! Until he was: ...tired to death. If the shoe fits! With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death! That's funny, that's just funny through and through! Men, here's what I want you to see; Samson was strong enough to kill a thousand men, he was strong enough to slay a lion bare handed, he was strong enough to lift a 700-pound door above his head, but he wasn't strong enough to lead a woman. Two women just laughed three rows over and I don't know why! I don't know why, but I want you to let that sink in for a minute. He had so much strength, but he wasn't strong enough to lead a woman. Gentlemen, don't you dare just be strong in business. Don't you dare just be strong in your hobbies or your sport; you be strong leading those around you into righteousness. I'd love to chase this rabbit and spend a whole hour talking about this and we won't because it's off track of the main thought, but I want you to see it and I want you to own it. A lot of men are strong in a lot of ways and you let other people lead. You lead righteously into honoring God in all that you do. Watch what happens in verse 17: So he told her everything. No razor has ever been used on my head because I've been a Nazirite, set apart to God since birth. Remember his Nazirite vows; don't get drunk, don't touch anything unclean, don't get your hair cut. He said: 'If my head were shaved my strength would leave me and I would become as weak as any other man.' I love this, he says, 'I was set apart to God since birth.' There's almost a sense that he's remembering for a moment who he was created to be. It's almost as if he's remembering for a moment who he was created to be. I would say men very respectfully, that there are a lot of you, you've forgotten the man that you were created to be. That God didn't just put you on this earth to take up space or just to go be semi-successful in a job. God put you here to utilize the gifts, the passion, the calling that He's given you to glorify Him and to make a difference in this world. Sometimes you just have to remember, "I was made for more than this!" And Samson, he's almost glimpsing back that way, but then he says, 'Hey, the secret in my strength, it's in my hair!' Verse 19, Scripture says: 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 what happened? Everybody read this aloud, the Bible says: And his strength left him. And his strength left him. I wonder how many men out of disobedience to God, are doing battle every single day with their own strength and forgetting to tap into the power of God? God's strength left him. What did he do? He didn't mess his life up all at once, he did it one step at a time. He taunted the enemy, he rationalized his sin, and: 3. Samson assumed his disobedience would never cost him. Just like so many men today, they assume, "Hey, I can get away with this again, I've gotten away with it before, why not again? He assumed his disobedience would never cost him. Verse 20: Then Delilah called out, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and... What did he think? He thought: "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." 'I'll go out, I've done it three times before, I'll do it again. I'll shake myself free, this won't cost me!' ...But he didn't know that the Lord had left him. He thought to himself, 'I'll go out as before and shake myself free.' But he didn't know that things had changed. Men, may I say humbly, there may come a time when you've gotten away with it once and you've gotten away with it again. And nobody has found out yet or no one has held you accountable, but you may go back to her one time thinking you can talk your way out of it again and she finally says, "That's enough!" Or you may come home to your kids and say, "Oh, but I promise!" and "Next time I will!" and your kids finally say, "Dad, that's enough!" Or you go to your boss and you say, "But I promise!" and "I'll get it right this time!" and "Let me off won't you?" And your boss says, "That's enough!" Because so often men get away with so much we think we're going to get away with it forever, 'I'll just do like I did last time, I'll just shake myself free!' And he didn't realize eventually his sin would overtake him, over power him, and overcome him; because men, your sin will find you out. He thought, 'I can get away with this, it's not going to cost me!' But he didn't realize that the Lord had left him. Verse 21, here's the tragedy: Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. How did a man with so much God-given potential end up in such bad shape? He didn't do it all at once, how did he do it? He did it one step at a time. So men here's the deal, for many of you this is a moment of truth right now, this is a moment of truth. What I want to do is I want to ask you very sincerely, and I want to dare you, I'm going to double-dog dare you, whatever it takes; I want you to be really honest and answer this question: Where are you stepping away from God? Where are you stepping away from God? It could be step number one for some of you, for some of you it might be step number 56,249. Where are you stepping away from God? Here's the thing, for some of you it could be something as simple as you're a Christian and yet you're not spending any time in God's Word. You're a Christian and you're not spending any time in prayer. In other words, your hair is still long, you're still in church. You've got the outward sign that you're following God, but inwardly your heart has drifted from Him. For others it could be lust; "I want it, I've got..." It might be a lust-filled pornographic world, or it might be lust for the things of this world. Or it could be entitlement; "I deserve it!" It could be pride; "I can handle it!" It could be anger, it could be apathy and a passive living; you're aggressive in so many ways, but you're not actively leading where you should. It could be greed; you're caught up in this world. It could be that financially you're disobeying God in one way or another. It could be any number of things. I want to challenge you to have the courage to be honest about it and just to answer truthfully, where are you stepping away from God? Because here's the deal, and don't miss this men: You are only as strong as you are honest. You are only as strong as you are honest. Where are you stepping away from God? Now, I want to summarize the whole message in one short moment. Here's the best picture I can give you: If you are stepping away from God in any way; step number one, step number 56,249, if you're stepping away from God in any way, here's the message, don't you miss it. Here it is and it's simple and it's profound all at the same time. If you're stepping away from God, what should you do? Are you ready? What should you do? You should...turn around! Turn around, turn around, go the other way! It's not too late! It's that simple! And here's the deal, when you turn around, who will be right there waiting for you? Your God will be there waiting for you, He is that good! I want to show you, and this to me is the most exciting, grace-filled verse in this whole amazing story. What you're going to find is, help me out, what was the outward symbol of his inward devotion to God? It was his hair. What did he just get cut? He just got his hair cut. So, what is he now? Publicly he's shamed, he's standing before everyone. His lack of hair says, 'I have disobeyed God!' But God in His mercy put one verse in Scripture that captures His love and His grace, and what does this verse say? Samson is there with his hair shaved. He is publicly humiliated. But verse 22 says this: But the hair on his head, the hair on Samson's head began to grow again after it had been shaved. Why is that verse there? Because that's just how good God's grace is. Even though he had outwardly disobeyed, God said, 'That which gives you strength will grow again!' Next week, we are going to see that just because a man is down does not mean he is out. Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. Satan loves to make strong men weak, but God, our God loves to make weak men strong. If you've stepped away from God, you turn back and God will be there to make your hair grow again! Father, I pray that your Spirit would speak today in a profound way and that our hearts would be open to what you would say to all of us. All of our churches, as you're praying right now, those of you who would just say honestly, men and women, every single one of you, "I've stepped away in some area and today I'm turning back!" Would you lift up your hands right now? All of our churches just be really, really honest, lift up your hands right now and say, "In some area of my life..." all of our churches just lift them up and say, "I've stepped away." Tons of hands. God, I thank you for those who are so honest and so sensitive to the loving conviction of your Spirit. God, I thank you today that you're showing us lovingly areas of our life that are out of your will. God, I thank you for your grace that if we're on step one or step five hundred, that we have got the opportunity to stop and turn back to you. God I thank you that it's not too late, that your grace is still here. Now God I pray, especially for the men. I pray oh God, that you would give them the courage to do not only what your Word says, to confess to you, because we know you are faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. But God I pray that we would have the courage as men to confess to one another, to our spouses, to our best friends, to our LifeGroup, to other men, because we know that when we confess our sins to one another and pray for each other, we can be healed. God I pray, I pray for men at all of our churches today, that your Spirit would give them the courage, the power to be honest, because God we know we're only as strong as we are honest. And God, I thank you today that as we're stepping in the wrong direction, we will turn around and we will meet you and we will be different God because of your grace and because of your goodness. As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, a lot of you right now, you're going to say, "You know what? My life is moving fast in the wrong direction." Guess what? God has brought you here today to hear the best news you'll ever hear. Scripture says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Jesus is the Son of God, who was born without sin, lived the perfect life, became sin for us on the cross, shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, was raised from the dead so that whoever calls on His name will be saved. I'm here to tell you right now, there are those of you, you've been trying to be a good person, trying to do this, you end up going the wrong way and doing the wrong things, you're embarrassed, you feel guilty and "I don't know how I got here." You got there one step at a time. And I'm telling you what, you want something different, you are going to have to take a different step. You're here today to step away from your sin and to step toward Christ. And when you do God will be there to love you, you forgive you. Today, you just repent and turn away from your sins and turn toward Him and He will cast all of your sins away from you, He will not remember them anymore. He will fill you with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and you will be brand new. All of our churches today, those of you who would say, "That's me; I'm going the wrong way. I'm coming home, I'm coming home, I give my life to you. Jesus save me, make me new. I'm turning back to God today." If that's your prayer at all of our churches, would you lift your hands high right now? Lift them up high now all over the place. Lift them up if you will. Right back over here, God bless you guys, over here as well. Way back over here sir, ma'am right back over there. Way back there in the back, God bless you guys. Others of you, both of you right here together, Praise God for you! Sir right here in the middle section, sir right here as well. Sir back here, God bless all of you guys. Sir right up here, praise God for you and over here, both of you ladies right over here. Sir in this section, I don't know how you guys are sitting there being quiet as another man of God is born right here in this section. Others today who say, "Yes, that's my prayer!" Church Online, you all click right below me and we're all going to pray aloud together, everybody aloud. Heavenly Father save me from my sins. I'm coming home, I'm turning to you. Jesus forgive me, be the Savior of my life, be the Lord of my life. I believe you died for me so I could live for you. Fill me with your Spirit so I could serve you for the rest of my life. Thank you for new life, I give you mine. In Jesus' name I pray. LifeChurch would you cheer, would you applaud, would you worship God, would you welcome those born into God's family?

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Duration: 37 minutes and 1 second
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Mar 9, 2012

Samson - Week 4 - Craig Groeschel -

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