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Keys from the story of Sampson, about the grace of god, how he loves us even in the midst of defeat and disgrace. This story is about the goodness of God to someone who's fallen over, fallen down. You are not beyond the reach of God no matter where you are today. The best days of our life are ahead of us if we're in the hands of God.
I want you to look with me in Judges 16. If I was to mention to you the name Samson, what would come to mind? What words would come to the mind straight away? [Delilah] Isn't that interesting? Delilah is the first thing that would come to mind.
I'm glad you said that word, because it indicates that our tendency is to look at life from a very negative perspective. That story is not about Delilah by the way. It’s about a man of faith, a man who believed God, in spite of massive failure; and the thing is, he's named a hero of faith, not because of all he did before he met Delilah, but what he did after he was restored.
So our first response, when we think of the name Samson, is immediately you think Delilah; and immediately you think of the sexual sin, the bondage, the troubles he got into; and so our mind tends to look at him, and in a way we kind of feel sorry for him, and we feel like: well, we wouldn't do that. We've just seen what happened to him; we wouldn't do the same, and tend to look at it out of a negative and prideful perspective, but the Bible has a different perspective on him.
If we were to check up in Hebrews 11 verse 32, we would find that the Holy Ghost specifically encouraged someone to write down, and He recorded out of four thousand years of history, men who God liked, men who impressed God, men who pleased God; and out of all of the people that did something for God in history, the Bible records or pulls out about a dozen of them, and right there stuck in the middle is Samson!
Not a mention of Delilah in the New Testament, not one mention of her. Why is that? Because when the Holy Ghost looks on Samson, the Holy Ghost records he was the man who rose out of failure and setback, and trusted in the grace of God. He dared to believe that grace could come to him. He dared to believe that in the most impossible and difficult setback, where everything in his life had been stripped away from him, where his life now was in ruins, and he's no longer fulfilling his purpose, he dared to believe that God was still good, and would help him at that moment.
It's great when life is going well, to think good of God; but you know when you're right down there, and things are in trouble, and there's pressure on you; that is when you need to know that this God we serve, is a God who loves us. He's a God of grace, and He's a God who can reach right down to you, wherever you are; and everyone's said: it's over, you're history, you've failed; and God says: I see the fire of faith in that man's heart; I can pick him up out of there, and I can cause his end to be stronger than his beginning. Now that is a great message, and Delilah's got not much to do with that. It's all about God. You've got to focus on the right things.
It says in Judges 16:4 - it says: afterwards he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, the Valley of Vines, whose name was Delilah.
Delilah means literally - it means to bring you low, to dry you up, to make you feeble - how about that? To bring you low, dry you up, make you feeble; so every person has got a Delilah, something that brings you down, makes you weak, makes you feeble. Your faith starts to falter.
It could be some little wee habit you've got in your life, it could be some area in your heart, whatever it is, the devil knows about it. I can tell you now, and he will have assignments, that will go descend a Delilah into your life.
Your Delilah is whatever you trade with, to feel better. Your Delilah could be the television, it could be the Internet, could be romance novels, it could be all kinds of things. Your Delilah is whatever you trade away your purpose and destiny, to feel a little better about yourself.
Your Delilah comes in when you feel the need of comfort, when you're feeling lonely, it comes in to offer you comfort, and it'll take away your purpose, your destiny; it'll steal your vision, it'll steal your strength, take everything away - and everyone has got one.
The question is whether you can name your one. If you can't name it, it'll be working on you all the time; and so it says here: the Philistines, Lords of the Philistines, a picture of demonic spirits or familiar spirits, came and said to her: entice him, or let's see if you can open him up, get his soul opened up, find out where his strength lies; that we might prevail against him, or overpower him, or overcome him; and then afflict him, or put a yoke on him, and then attack him, or afflict him, or depress him; and put him down and humiliate him.
So notice the strategy of the enemy, it's very simple: send a Delilah; something into your life that looks good, feels good, makes you feel a little better about yourself; but it strips away some things from your life.
It says very simply: your Delilah is anything that you open your life up to, anything that draws you, takes you away from God said about your life. And it says: it'll overpower you, or overcome you. It says: it will bind you, or yoke and harness you; and then it'll depress you, and bring you down.
So I'm sure that you could probably already think of what it is, that whenever it happens, it gets on top of you, and it seems to somehow get around your mind and emotions, and knock you back.
Now that's your Delilah - and see, he didn't even see it coming, because she seduced him. He fell asleep on her knees; in other words, he was spiritually unaware of what was going on around him.
Many Christians live spiritually unaware of what is going on in their personal life, what is really happening around them in their atmosphere. It's very easy for us to become passive, shut down; prayer's gone, our praise has gone. We don't really have much energy and vibrancy in life, we're into a routine in our prayer time or devotional time; or it's not there are all, instead of having some vibrancy of the Holy Ghost!
And so Delilah got him to sleep, so he didn't see her, wasn't aware what was going on. You need people around you, to help you become aware what's happening in your life. We need fellowship, we need people, we need to be connected to people that can talk into our life, and say: hey, you don't seem to be yourself today. Hey, you seem to have lost your spark. Hey, how are things going?
That's what groups are for, is to get you into relationships - not so you can sit around, have a cup of tea and talk about the Bible. It's more than that. It's to stimulate you, to get on top in your personal life, and to grow. He never had anyone like that, so he was a sitting duck, then he become a lame duck, then he become a very powerful eagle. I love it how it ends! I love how it ends! God can take a lame duck, and make him a mighty eagle.
So she caused him to fall asleep. Once he fell asleep, she nipped off the hair - the most expensive hair cut he ever had in life; and so he comes out of the hair cut, and the enemy come in around him, and the Bible says: he shook himself; saying: I'll move in the Holy Ghost like I did before - and he didn't realise the Holy Ghost wasn't on him anymore. That's the most tragic thing, isn't it?
I remember being in a men's conference one time, and I was talking to these guys the first night there, and I was picking up some of the comments people were making, and I said to the guys: I don't know which is the worst. I don't know which I feel most sad about: one, that the spiritual atmosphere is totally empty, and devoid of any move with God; or that this is something people have got so used to - that they think this okay. I said: I think I'm really stirred about that, that people have got so used to living under a spiritual atmosphere of passivity and heaviness and oppression and blah, blah, blah, that actually they think that's normal.
Blind - and so what happened to him, they took him, they got hold of him, and the first thing they took from his life was his vision, his sense of purpose - because if you have no purpose you're lost.
One of the things Jesus came for, was to connect us to purpose. So they took out his eyes. He couldn't see where he was going. He had no direction for his life. They took out his eyes.
Second thing they did is, they bound him; they put him bondage, so he was in chains, he had no strength. His strength was never in hair. His strength was in the mighty spirit of God on him; and that same Holy Ghost that's on him, is inside you and me! We can stir our spirit man any time we want - pray, move with the Holy Ghost! It's a matter of exercising your will, and your voice, and making decisions to build a strong life. We can do that any time, because the Holy Ghost that came upon him, now lives inside all of us.
Then they put him down, and they got him going round in circles, just his life became a daily grind; and this is where so many people live; they live and they have no vision, no sense of purpose, no captivating dream. Even if they can see, they can't see that God has got something for their life; and they're in a place where they're bound and restricted by old habits, old sins; and they're going round in circles, grinding out on a day to day routine - and something inside the person feels not right.
I want you to see what Samson did, because this prayer - and this prayer is really the key to what happens; you notice his hair began to grow again. They took him out, and wanted to put him on display and humiliate him. So there was a great public gathering, and it says: there were thousands. Verse 27; the temple was full of men and women, the Lords of the Philistines there, about three thousand men and women, watching while Samson performed in front of them.
The Bible tells us that you and I are on display. It says there is a crowd of heavenly witnesses watching our life.
There are people who went before us, who ran their race, Paul and Peter, and men of every generation, watching how you're running.
There's also some other people in the arena. There are also demonic powers. There's the Lords of the Philistines, there's all those demons, and they're looking, and they're watching how you're doing too.
What they want to see is, they want to see God's man, God's woman, blind - no Holy Ghost strength - locked up and going round in circles, humiliated.
Why does the devil love to do that? Because he can't do anything to God, but if he can get the people God loves into a place of bondage and defeat, then he can say: look at your champions.
I wonder if the spirit world knows what's going on around you, whether the demons are saying: go on! Look at your champion defeated! Going round in circles, no purpose, no vision, no dream, no Holy Ghost fire. Is that the best you can do? That's what goes on in the spirit world. It's what goes on. There's other men and women saying: God, move on our behalf, move on our behalf.
So Samson's out there, and they're all humiliating him, and he's got thousands of his enemies around him; and deep inside him there's something has risen - faith in God. Not faith in faith, but faith that God is a good God.
The Bible says, after it describes our simple condition, it says that God who is rich in mercy and His great love. His great love, that He loves, is rich in mercy. Wherever you're at, you're not past the reach of God.
So this man said, and you'll read it in those verses, he said: remember me Lord, and give me my strength one more time, and I will lay my life down for your purpose.
God heard that prayer. That's a great prayer. God, remember me, remember me - and so God remembered him.
The power of God came on him again. This is not about Samson and his defeat, and about Delilah. This is about the God that we serve, is waiting to step in on your behalf. The God we serve is the God of grace and power. He's waiting to step in on your behalf.
What activates Him is not your need. What activates Him is your faith.
Samson was listed as a man who believed God; so I'm sure that in the time that he was going round and round in circles, getting nowhere, he didn't just sit down feeling sorry for himself.
He would have taken time to meditate in the words God had spoken to him, to meditate in what God had done in the lives of others. Every day, even though it was a bad day, and he was in a bad place, he believed it's possible for God to lift him back up out of that bad place.
You see, before he was just toying around with the call of God. Before he liked the anointing, he liked the feel of power, he liked to get the victory; but you see there was an issue in his soul that had never been resolved.
It was the issue of: will I surrender to the purposes of God? So he wanted God and the other, and he got a Delilah. Then when he came to himself, he came to a place where he said: God, it's all about you, and your purpose for my life; and so he reached out: Lord, remember me, remember me. Lord, in all your goodness, remember me; remember me and strengthen me again, and I will lay my life down for your purposes.
And when God heard that cry, God responded. It's not the cry of someone who just wants: well God, I'm feeling down today. Can you come and send someone to pray for me, and bring me a prophetic word, and bless me? It's not that kind of cry. It was a cry that said: God, I have come like the prodigal son to the end of myself; and I've come to my senses and I'm coming back.
You can marry what happened there with the story of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son returned, the Father held him in his arms. The Father put on him a shimmering garment of righteousness, restored him into the throes of sonship, put a ring of authority, so he could stand again as the son. He didn't have to do anything. It's because the Father is good, the Father is loving, the Father is gracious. All it takes is for someone who'll dare to come to Him and believe.
The thing I observe about Samson is this, that in the midst of his pain, he did not become bitter. The midst of his sorrow and his mistakes, he did not become depressed and suicidal.
Instead, in the midst of it, he thought about God, and faith rose in his heart; and there came a day when he said: God, I lay my life down to serve you. Now Lord, strengthen me, remember me. I know I've blown it, I know that I'm really short of what you had, but Lord, I'm not short of your grace, your goodness.
It was never about his prayer, and never about Delilah. This story is about the goodness of God, to someone who's fallen over, fallen down. You are not beyond the reach of God, no matter where you are today.
You may be thinking: I can't see how my calling could work out. I can't see how I can get from where I am; but I tell you - you're not past the reach of God.
He's able to reach into your life, if you will let Him - but God who is rich in mercy and His great love, that's the God we serve. That's the God we've been singing about.
God is rich in mercy. All He's looking for is a heart that will be surrendered to Him, and will dare to believe that no matter where they're at, God can help.
Lord, remember me and strengthen me one more time. With that the Holy Ghost came on him. He tore down the pillars of the temple, and in his last act of warfare against his enemies, killed more in that last act, than all his lifetime put together. His last moment was a glorious moment, a moment of great, great victory; and your next season in your life can be like that.
Is there anyone here today, first of all, who's not received Jesus Christ as their saviour? I'd love to give you an opportunity to receive Him. That would be the most important thing, would be to become a Christian, to give your life to Jesus. He loves you. He's concerned for your life. He's given His life for you. Are you here today, and want to give your life to Christ? I'd love you just to raise your hand, let me know. I'd love to pray with you, and lead you to come to know Jesus.
I wonder is there anyone here and God has been speaking to you, you feel this like Samson, that I'm in a low place; eyes been put out, lost my strength and vigour and determination, feels like I'm going round in circles. You don't have to stay there. God is a good God.
You say: but how can He do it? How can He do it? Don't try to figure out how. Put yourselves in His hands. Put your life in His hands. Let Him work with you one more time. Let Him work with you again. Let Him work to change you. Let Him work to help you grow through this difficult season, and there is a great day ahead for you. It'll be the greatest day of your life.
All of us, the best days of our life are ahead of us if we're in the hands of God. Don't assume you always are. Put yourself there today like Samson did. Don't be passive. Nothing happens to any passive person. You have to actively extend your faith.
I want you to pray this prayer with me: Father, I come boldly to you in Jesus' name. I ask that you restore my strength to me. I put my life in your hands to serve you, to become available for you. All I am and have, I put in your hands; and I ask you Lord today, as I reach out to you, to put your anointing afresh upon me, and to begin to pick up my life and walk with me afresh. Strengthen me Lord, to fulfil my course. Amen.