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Samson killing a young lion – in Gaza. Ffrom Old Testament stories, published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London c.1880. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

 

But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Judges 16:20

Judges 16 tells the tragic story of Samson. In letting his lover cut his Nazirite-vowed hair, he disobeyed God, squandered his opportunities, and undermined his own power—yet he didn’t realize it. He reminds us of the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17, which thought it was rich and needed nothing—“and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

It’s frightening to think how easily we can sustain a false impression of ourselves. Being poor in spirit and humble before the Lord means we understand our true condition. Without God, we are miserable even when we think we’re happy. We’re poor even when we think we’re rich. We’re doomed to hell even as we’re looking forward to our next vacation or special event.

When we know who we are without God, we can discover all we can be with God. He is the Source of our power, joy, usefulness, and eternal wealth. Be sensitive to His spirit, responsive to your conscience, and walk closely to Him who knows the number of hairs on your head.

Samson…was reduced to a pathetic shred of a man because he never got control over the lusts of his flesh. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth


Charles Spurgeon Sermon – Samson Conquered

In the Father’s Ways

They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.  1 Samuel 8:3

In the 1960s, the bustling community of North Lawndale, on Chicago’s West Side, was a pilot community for interracial living. A handful of middle-class African Americans bought homes there on “contract”—that combined the responsibilities of home ownership with the disadvantages of renting. In a contract sale, the buyer accrued no equity, and if he missed a single payment, he would immediately lose his down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself. Unscrupulous sellers sold at inflated prices, then the families were evicted when they missed a payment. Another family would buy on contract, and the cycle fueled by greed just kept going.

Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel, and they were driven by greed. His sons “did not follow his ways” (1 Samuel 8:3). In contrast to Samuel’s integrity, his sons “turned aside after dishonest gain” and used their position to their own advantage. This unjust behavior displeased the elders of Israel and God, putting in motion a cycle of kings that fills the pages of the Old Testament (vv. 4–5).

To refuse to walk in God’s ways allows room for the perversion of those values, and as a result injustice flourishes. To walk in His ways means honesty and justice are clearly seen not only in our words but in our deeds as well. Those good deeds are never an end in themselves but always that others may see and honor our Father in heaven.

By:  John Blase

 

Using Spiritual Gifts

1 Peter 4:7-11

Any person who belongs to Christ has received a spiritual gift for God’s glory and the good of the church. Serving the Lord is not a suggestion but a command. When we waste the opportunity, we deprive both ourselves and others of the service God intended for us to provide.

In today’s reading, Peter separates the spiritual gifts into two categories: gifts of serving and speaking. However, within these two groups are an endless variety of ways service for Christ is put into action. Even if two believers have the same gifting, they will express it in unique ways—and with different results.

We should remember that though there are a variety of gifts, ministries, and outcomes, the Holy Spirit is the source of them all, and God is the one doing the work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). For instance, the teaching gift has a wide range of applications. It can be used by one person to instruct toddlers while someone else uses it to teach seminary students. Both uses are essential in God’s eyes and bring Him glory.

God doesn’t rank the spiritual gifts, so never think that yours isn’t important. What He desires is faithfulness in employing it

Being With Christ

“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:9-10)

The book of Colossians begins with a stirring exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Creator (1:16) and Sustainer of all things (v. 17). He is the Head of the church and preeminent in all things (v. 18). He is fully God (v. 19) and yet Redeemer (v. 20). On the other hand, believers, before they were reconciled, are described as “alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works” (v. 21).

It comes as somewhat of a surprise, then, in chapters 2 and 3 to see that we are inexorably linked with Christ. Our lives and destinies are His—our identification with Him is total. We are not just reconciled, we are with Him in all things.

Notice, first, that we are “buried with him in baptism” (2:12). Furthermore, we are “quickened together [i.e., made alive] with him,” no longer “dead in [our] sins” (v. 13), and “risen with him” (v. 12). Just as surely as God “raised him from the dead,” we are born again; given new life. Obviously, since we are “risen with Christ, [we should] seek those things which are above” (3:1). Our priorities should be His godly priorities (v. 2), for “Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (v. 1), and we are there.

Next, we are told that our “life is hid with Christ in God” (v. 3). To be hidden in Christ is to be totally immersed, covered, our sins concealed, our identity masked within His; indeed, remade into His. God accepts Christ and us, as well, as we are hidden in Him. The next verse amplifies this identification with the term “Christ…our life” (v. 4).

This identification will not be in vain, for when He “shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (v. 4). As our text teaches, we are “complete in him,” for He is fully God, and we are with Him in all things. JDM

God Depends on Us

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

—Ephesians 1:4

 

Sin is a disease. It is lawlessness. It is rebellion. It is transgression—but it is also a wasting of the most precious of all treasures on earth. The man who dies out of Christ is said to be lost, and hardly a word in the English tongue expresses his condition with greater accuracy. He has squandered a rare fortune and at the last he stands for a fleeting moment and looks around, a moral fool, a wastrel who has lost in one overwhelming and irrecoverable loss, his soul, his life, his peace, his total mysterious personality, his dear and everlasting all!

Oh, how can we get men and women around us to realize that God Almighty, before the beginning of the world, loved them, and thought about them, planning redemption and salvation and forgiveness?

Christian brethren, why are we not more faithful and serious in proclaiming God’s great eternal concerns?

How is this world all around us ever to learn that God is all in all unless we are faithful in our witness?

In a time when everything in the world seems to be vanity, God is depending on us to proclaim that He is the great Reality, and that only He can give meaning to all other realities.   CES048

Forgive me, Lord. I fear that all too often I have let You down when You were depending on me. Use me today as a faithful servant. Amen.

 

Glorious Future, Blessed Tomorrow

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 3:14

 

The normal Bible direction is not backward, it is always forward. Jacob returned to the altar, but in doing so he did not go back, he went forward. The Prodigal Son did not say, “I will go back”; he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”

From where he was, going to his father’s house was a forward step in his moral activities. It represented no retreat, but a distinct advance over his previous conduct.

The will of God is always the proper goal for every one of us. Where God is must be the place of desire. Any motion toward God is a forward motion. Even repentance is not a retreat toward the past but a decided march into a more glorious future. Restitution is not a return to yesterday but a step into a blessed tomorrow….

If we find that we have gone back, then we should immediately reverse the direction and again go forward. NCA024-025

God’s purpose in all His dealings with us is to make us grow into something higher. The greatest calamity that can come to a soul is to be satisfied with its present condition. CTBC, Vol. 5/015

 

On Giving

1 John 3:16-17

God is the great Giver. It is not merely that giving is one of the great principles of action with Him, or one of the leading laws which He has laid down for His government; it is more than that—it is His nature.

We all know the difference. We can see it in a small way when we compare some of the people around us with each other. There are those who are selfish by nature, but who have, by force of will, or force of habit, or both, come in many matters to be kindly and generous in spite of their natural preferences and disposition. There are others to whom generosity is their natural element, of whom we can say they have a generous nature.

Thus it is with our God, only ten thousand times more so! His acts are generous. He gives because it is of His very nature to give. He gives regardless of the gratitude He may or may not receive. He gives as the eternal outflow of a loving heart. He gives because He just loves to give.

The moment we think of God at all we think of goodness, of one who is sending His rain on the evil and the good, feeding the wild beasts of the forests. The God our hearts need for the bestowal of our love and trust and service, the God for whom we could be willing to suffer and some even to die, must be the generous Being from whom there flows that loving stream of good toward all. Yes, this is the God we adore—the Great Giver.

Now we say that we are the children of God. Ought not the children to resemble the Parent? How can we consider ourselves to belong to His family unless, up to the measure of our ability, and so far as we have been entrusted with what can be bestowed, we are givers too?

When I speak of giving I am not thinking about material possessions only. I am thinking about influence. What a gift we can bestow there! I am thinking about kindness. What wealth every one of us may place in the hands and hearts of those who are around us by kind word and kind deeds!

I am thinking about faith. What a wonderful gift we can bestow upon others by our confidence in them, to their great enrichment! And I am thinking also of love, in the sense of goodwill, of service, of willingness to sacrifice for the good of the object loved. What riches God has bestowed upon us in giving us the power to love our fellows!

This also applies to our material possessions. “If anyone has material possessions,” says the Apostle John, “and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17).

Bramwell Booth, Life and Religion