Learning Rest Through Samson

When you lose your rest in Christ – your understanding of who He is – you lose your perspective.

Samson lost his perspective and the blessing of his strength. He became a joke among the Philistines. That is what the enemy wants to make of us – a laughingstock. When Samson was forced to rest as a captive, his hair (the symbol of his strength) gradually grew back over that time, and he regained the blessing of his strength as well as renewed perspective.

In those days Israel didn’t have a king. The people did anything they thought was right. (Judges 17:6)

Samson was one of the last of the Judges. After him came Samuel, and then the first kings of Israel. The main theme of the book of Judges is the downward spiral of God’s people into chaos… much like today.

During this time, Israel had been under the oppression of the Philistines for about 40 years.

Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years. (Judges 13:1)

An angel appeared the wife of a man named Manoah, saying she would have a child would be a Nazirite for life. There are just 2 other people who had this designation – Samuel and John the Baptist. A Nazirite was set apart by a vow, holy to God, and had to abstain from certain things. (Read more in Numbers 6.)

One day Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place. They hid and waited for him at the city gate all night long. They didn’t make any move against him during the night. They said, “Let’s wait until the sun comes up. Then we’ll kill him.” But Samson stayed there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up. He took hold of the doors of the city gate. He also took hold of the two doorposts. He tore them loose, together with their metal bar. He picked them up and put them on his shoulders. Then he carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. (Judges 16)

Samson is an interesting picture of human weakness and Jesus. On the one hand, he wasn’t able to keep his vows as a Nazirite, and he also had a problem with lust. But in the verse above, we see a foreshadowing of Jesus carrying the cross.Then we come to Delilah:

Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you’? You won’t even share your secret with me. This is the third time you have made me look foolish. And you still haven’t told me the secret of why you are so strong.” 16 She continued to pester him day after day. She nagged him until he was sick and tired of it. (Judges 16)

How often have we, as believers, been harassed by satan until we give in?

Facing the Future with God’s Peace

Today, we honor and encourage our high school graduates!

When someone is pregnant, what can they do to cause that baby to grow? Nothing, except take in food and water. The same is true in our spiritual life. All we can do is to pray and read God’s Word – it is God who does all the rest of the work.

This is what the Lord says:

The wise man must not boast in his wisdom;
the strong man must not boast in his strength;
the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.
But the one who boasts should boast in this,
that he understands and knows Me—
that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
This is the Lord’s declaration. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

…how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

God did not come and do what He did to simply patch us up. He came to make us entirely new.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Some translations call us to “submit to Him in all your ways.”

Hearing the Word of God is a daily act. Just as we need water every day, we need the Word of God every day. Don’t resist what He tells you.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

When we manipulate circumstances and try to make it happen, it doesn’t. It’s as though He steps back and says, “Go ahead. I will wait until you allow Me to work.” If we stop struggling and rest in Him, in prayer and reading His Word, then He takes our burden and He does the work.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The Lord wants us to experience His peace every day, not just a couple times a year. It is a peace that cannot even be explained. If you are fully dependent on God, you can fully have His peace.

Fear is the opposite of peace. There are over 300 scriptures that tell us not to fear. If Christ is in your life, you do not have to live in fear.

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4)

“…we are as He is…” And where is Christ? He is seated at the right hand of God, in His presence. You don’t become more holy by fearing God’s punishment. “…fear involves punishment…” (Some translations say “torment” instead of punishment.)

Your character does not produce righteousness or blessing. Only resting in Christ does that.

I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17)

I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,
height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

 

Resting in Christ’s Power

Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. He said that He must go so that the Holy Spirit could come. He is the living bread and living water, prepared for us to partake in.

In all things occurring in your life, God is at work. Give Him thanks even when things are difficult. He makes all things beautiful in His time. Have you given your heart to Jesus? “Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

“Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of Israel’s sons: 10 six of their names on the first stone and the remaining six names on the second stone, in the order of their birth. 11 Engrave the two stones with the names of Israel’s sons as a gem cutter engraves a seal. Mount them, surrounded with gold filigree settings. 12 Fasten both stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the Israelites. Aaron will carry their names on his two shoulders before the Lord as a reminder. (Exodus 28)

Aaron was the first high priest of Israel. Jesus is the last high priest. This scripture is a reminder that He carries us on His shoulder. Do we try to do things in our own strength? Or are we resting on Him, on His power?

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus is also the Good Shepherd. Shepherds will carry sheep on their shoulders. He wants to carry us and give us rest.

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field[a] and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15)

If you are really resting in Him, you are not going to go astray. Are you in this place today? Do you find yourself trying to make things happen in your life, instead of waiting on Him?

Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Is the darkest valley a difficult time that has come into our life? Is it something we have brought on ourselves by our own choices? Regardless, Jesus will continually take us back into His rest, carrying us on His shoulders, if we will allow Him.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Being confident in your salvation is a place of peace and rest! Where is confusion? It is with the enemy of our souls – he is the master of confusion. When He says He will not remember our sins, it’s because He means it! He wants us to know it and have confidence in it. There is no peace when you are out of God’s will.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:27)

He gives us His peace regardless of our circumstances. The presence of His peace does not mean the absence of difficulties.

…He who started a good work in you[a] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5)

He said about Benjamin:

The Lord’s beloved rests securely on Him.
He shields him all day long,
and he rests on His shoulders. (Deuteronomy 33:12)

He completes the work in our lives – not us – but Him! Why does He do all this? For His enjoyment – because He wants to. He has chosen to bind us to His heart.

Prince or Pauper?

In 2 Samuel, we read about Mephibosheth, who was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul and Jonathan were killed, and Mephibosheth’s nurse ran away with him to hide him. In 2 Samuel 9, Mephibosheth is an adult with lame feet, living as a pauper, in abject poverty. David, who was the king, has him brought before him. Mephibosheth was very afraid. But David said that what he wanted was to bless him, to give him land and servants, and to live near him (David) in Jerusalem, as one of his own sons.

Most people would argue that Mephibosheth would be foolish to turn down King David’s offer. Mephibosheth had to choose between physical riches. But the choice before us this morning is spiritual blessing and riches, those of the kingdom of heaven.

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1)

“Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments
and untraceable His ways!”
(Romans 11:33)

“3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.” (2 Peter 1)

“1 Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him.” (1 John 3)

To be children of the King is to be rich. As Jesus said, His kingdom is not of this world. God’s peace keeps and protects our hearts and souls regardless of what our circumstances are. He always causes us to triumph in Jesus Christ.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5, KJV)

The phrase shed abroad is redundant. It means that His love has been poured out, double!

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4)

Even in a very dark situation, we still have a choice. We can live in His peace, or we can listen to the enemy of our souls, worrying in turmoil. Which choice? To live as a spiritual prince, or spiritual pauper?

When satan talks to you, do what Jesus did: Talk back with scripture. Remember that even Jesus had to do this more than once – you must persist. Every time you face a crisis, you face a choice: prince, or pauper.