Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 

Sampson

 

20 Then she said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He woke up and thought, “I’ll leave as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines captured Samson and tore out his eyes. They took him down to Gaza, where they put bronze chains on him and made him grind grain in the prison.

 

Sampson is one of the most remarkable men that you will meet in the Bible.  Even his birth was extraordinary, since only one other person in the Old Testament was privileged to have his birth foretold by an angel.  Isaac was promised to Abraham and Sarah by angels; that they entertained unawares.  Sampson was the only other person whose birth was foretold by an angelic messenger. 

Before his birth, he was dedicated to God and set apart as a Nazarite.  There were four things that marked a Nazarite: he was entirely consecrated to God; he drank no wine; he let his hair grow; and he couldn’t touch anything that was dead.  Sampson was devoted to God and when people saw him they would say, “That man is God’s man, a Nazarite, set apart.” 

God endowed Sampson with supernatural strength, a strength that never could have come from mere muscle.  It wasn’t the size of Sampson’s body that made him strong; and it wasn’t his arm or his fist that smote the Philistines; it was a miracle that lived within him; it was the power of God which made him mightier than thousands of his enemies. 

Sampson discovered that he had this great power early in his life, for we read that, “the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan.” 

He judged Israel for thirty years, and he delivered them from their enemies by his phenomenal strength.  Take a look at some of the great feats that he performed:

·         There was a time when he stepped into the vineyard to get away from his parents, for a moment.  A lion crouched there and sprung upon him.  He was unarmed, but he met it with his strong arms and killed it.

·         Then there was the time when his countrymen tied him up and gave him into the hands of thousands of Philistines.  He was their prisoner, but he saw the jaw bone of an ass lying on the ground.  He picked it up, and used it to battle and kill soldiers who had helmets on their heads and brass mail to cover their bodies.

·         Toward the end of his life he remained a vigorous champion of his people, because when he died he was in the prime of his life.  One of his greatest exploits was performed at that time.  This is what the Bible states.  He was trapped inside the city of Gaza, but he was unconcerned about the situation and he remained there until midnight.  He was so confident in his strength that he was in no hurry to leave; and instead of attacking the guards, he walked up to the city gate and pulled up the posts that supported the gates.  He carried the great burden of gates, posts and bar for miles until he came to the top of a hill overlooking Hebron.

 

It would have been great to have this man for a friend, and to stand next to him in a battle.  It would be like having an army in a single man, who could strike terror in thousands of the enemy.  But to the enemy, it was best if they never saw him, because there was no escape from him, except to run away. 

 

Sampson had great physical strength, but there were weaknesses also. 

ü  He was not intelligent, and he lacked spiritual power.

ü  His life was a series of miracles and foolish actions. 

ü  He had very little charm and was quick to give in to temptation. 

ü  He was easily enticed and led astray. 

ü  God often corrected him; nevertheless he would sin again.

At last, Delilah came into his life.  She was bribed with an enormous sum, by the Philistines, to get him to reveal the secret to his strength.  But Sampson foolishly toyed with her and failed to believe he was in danger, and in that way contributed to his own destruction. 

At last, due to her constant nagging, he let slip the secret of his strength; that it resided in the locks of his hair.  It wasn’t that his hair made him strong; but that his hair was a symbol of his consecration, and was a pledge of God’s favor to him.  As long as his hair was untouched, it was a symbol of his consecration; but as soon as it was cut, he was no longer perfectly consecrated and his strength left him.  

After his hair was cut off, he became as weak as other men.  The Philistines easily over powered him and took him prisoner.  Now, the Philistines began to punish him; they burned out his eyes with hot iron. 

Sampson, who was the great hero of Israel, shuffled along as he was led by his captors. 

The Philistines were not convinced that he couldn’t become strong again, so they bound his feet with shackles. 

He was taken to Gaza, the same city where he had walked out in pride carrying the posts and gates.  The little children come up to him and point at him, and along with the lower class people shout, “Sampson the great hero has fallen! Let’s make sport of him.”  It was an awful spectacle.  The sun beat down on his bare head, which had once been covered with bountiful locks.  

He is guarded by just a handful of soldiers, who would have fled from him in the past.  They take him to a place where a donkey is grinding at the mill, and Sampson must do the same shameful work.  Every passerby will make fun of him and the curious will flock to see the great man work at the mill.  But if we pity Sampson, it should not be because he had lost his strength or because he was blind, but because he had lost the favor of God for awhile.

The reason for investigating the life of Sampson is this: every child of God is like him in this respect; we are all consecrated to God.  There are no outward symbols like letting our hair grow or denying ourselves drinks. 

The Christian man or woman is consecrated, but the consecration is unseen, except in the outward deeds which are the result of it.

And now I want to speak to you as consecrated men and women, and I think there is a lesson for all of us in the history of Sampson. 

My first point is that the consecrated are strong; second, that there is a secret to their strength; third, there is a danger to which they are exposed; and forth, there is a disgrace which will come upon them, if they are exposed to this danger.

                I.      First, THE STRENGTH OF THE CONSECRATED MAN. 

 

Do you know that the strongest man in the world is a consecrated man? 

 

He died a few years ago, but before he died, he laid claim to the world’s strongest man title.  His name was Paul Anderson and he didn’t live far from here; he was from Georgia.  He performed some tremendous feats of strength; lifting more than 500# over head, dead lifting close to 1000# and lifting over 6000# with a back lift.  He held almost every super heavyweight record in Olympic weightlifting.  When I was a young man, he was my idol, so I know a lot about him.  He trained hard, he ate right, he did all the right things to develop his strength; but most of all he was consecrated to his sport.  I believe that all great sport champions are consecrated to their sport.  They must be to accomplish the performances that set them above other men.  If a man or woman will consecrate themselves to a purpose, no matter what that purpose is, and let their whole soul be absorbed by it, they will most likely excel.  Now that is especially true for those who are absorbed with being a Christian-they are consecrated to God. 

 

Listen.  That man or woman, who is consecrated to God, has awesome strength.  There are those here this morning that have such strength.  I know there are!  There are those who have kneeled in their rooms in private and consecrated themselves to the Lord.  Those who have thoroughly consecrated themselves to God, no mater who they may be, are strong and will accomplish amazing things.

Let me remind you of some of the amazing things that were done by consecrated men. 

1.      In the early days of the Christian faith, Christians were hunted like animals.  Have you ever heard how consecrated men and women endured terrible hardships and torture?  Did you know that they were cast to the lions, that they were sawn in two, were thrown in prison, or they met a swift death from the sword? 

2.      Could you have heard how they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins; and that they were destitute, tormented and made miserable? 

3.      Have you heard how they defied tyrants to their face; how when they were threatened that they laughed in the face of their enemies? 

4.      Did you know that when they were to be burned at the stake, that they clapped their hands in the fire, and sang hymns while their enemies laughed at their miseries? 

 

How could they do this?  What made women stronger than men and men stronger than angels?  Why was this-they were consecrated to God.  They believed that every pain they felt was giving glory to God, that all the pains they endured were marks of the Lord Jesus, and proof that they were consecrated to Him. 

 

But it wasn’t in suffering alone that these devoted ones showed such power.  Have you ever heard how the consecrated ones did wonders?  Read the stories; how those who did not hold their lives so dear honored their Lord by preaching the Gospel in foreign lands. 

 

Have you heard how men and women left their homes and friends and everything that they once held dear and went to foreign countries to proclaim the Gospel; and that they placed themselves in danger when they did it? 

 

Have you heard how they stood on the shore and watched the ship that brought them fade into the distance, and yet without fear they dwelt among wild savages and told them the simple story of the God that loved and died for them.  These missionaries conquered men who were fiercer than lions, who crouched before them, listened to their words, and received the preaching of the gospel with faith. 

What was it that made these people heroes?  What enabled them to leave their families and go to foreign lands?  It was because they were consecrated, thoroughly consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Is there anything in the world that the consecrated man cannot do?  Tempt him, offer him wealth or fame, take him to the mountain top, show him all the kingdoms of the world, and tell him that he can have them all, if he will just bow down and worship the god of this world.  What will the consecrated man say?  “Get behind me, Satan; I already have more than you can offer me; this world is mine, and worlds to come; I despise your temptation; I will not bow before thee.” 

When men threaten the consecrated man, what does he say?  “I fear God, and therefore I can’t fear you; you may choose to serve man instead of God, but for me, I will serve only God.” You may have known a consecrated man in your life.Was he famous?  Was there anything that he couldn’t do?  When he preached the Gospel, did his enemies attack him, and did they distort his qualities and call them vices, and were his slightest faults made into the greatest crimes.  At times, it seams like he doesn’t have any friends; even fellow ministers of the Gospel shun him; he is believed to be strange to the point that every one must avoid him.  What does he do?  Within his heart, he holds a conference with God; he asks, am I right?  The Holy Spirit gives the answer-yes!  Then he says, “If I am right, I will continue on as before, and follow my conscience.”  He may feel that he has been deserted, but he doesn’t express that in public.  In public, no one can tell if any of these things bother him; and he can say along with Paul-“None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me that I may win Christ and finish my course with joy.” 

Is there anything that a consecrated man cannot do?  I believe that if he had the whole world against him, he would prove more than a match for it, because he is more than a conqueror through Him that loved him. 

The one who is consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ is not alone.  You may ask, “Can we be consecrated to Christ?  I thought that it was only for ministers.”  Listen.  All God’s children must be consecrated; men and women. 

Now let’s consider our situation here at the Inn.  I don’t know your financial conditions, if you have much or little, and I don’t want to know; it’s none of my business.  But I know that the word of God says that we are to give to him with a cheerful heart. We don’t give because He needs it; we give because we love Him and because He wants to bless us.  So, I would encourage you to give something to your church.  When you first came to God, when you joined the church, did you say something like this, “All that I am, and all that I have, shall be forever thine; whatever you bid me to give, I will give cheerfully.” 

If you ever made a vow to God to give, you should honor your vow.  I will not say anymore about this after today, but I want to encourage you to give to God; give him your love, your prayers, your testimony, your tithe and offering.  Consecrate your money to the Lord and consecrate your life to the Lord; for happy is the man who is consecrated unto the Lord; and where ever he is he will do wonders. 

I believe that today we are all little men and little women.  A hundred years ago, if we would have gone through the churches, we would have found men and women of great faith and ministers who were preachers with power.  But now, we are little men and women, our names will not be remembered, because we do nothing to deserve it.

The littleness of Christians today results from the littleness of their consecration to Christ.  The age of D.L. Moody was the age of great preachers, but that was also the age of great consecration.  Those great preachers whose names we remember were men who desired nothing for their own, and they gave up all that they had willingly to the Lord.  They lived to preach the Gospel to thousands or to just a few.  They became great men, because they were totally given up to God. 

If we could say to ourselves, “From the crown of my head to the soul of my foot, there is not a drop of blood that is not wholly God’s; all my time, all my talents, -everything I have is God’s”-if we could say that, and back it up with our life, we would be strong like Sampson, for the consecrated must be strong. 

 

             II.       Now, the second point is, THERE IS A SECRET TO THEIR STRENGTH. 

 

 What makes the consecrated man strong?  There is no strength in man himself.  Sampson, without God, was just a poor fool.  The secret of Sampson’s strength was this-as long as he was consecrated, he was strong; as long as he was thoroughly devoted to God, and had no other purpose other than to serve God (and that was to be indicated by the growing of his hair) then God would be with him and help him.  It is the same for us; if we have any strength to serve God, that strength comes from God. 

 

Some men will tell you that the strength of their character and their good deeds will carry them to heaven.  Man’s character and good works has never carried anyone to heaven; but many are in hell today who thought they would. 

There is not enough strength in our human nature to bring us to serve God righteously.  No man can say that Jesus is the Christ unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to him.  No man can come to Christ, except the Holy Spirit draws him.  The Bible describes our condition this way, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”  I believe that everyone who is truly saved will eventually feel this way.  I doubt if anyone could be saved even for a day without finding his own weakness.  The child of God quickly discovers that he needs to take a hold of the Father’s hand or he will fall. 

Could you imagine Sampson without God going against a thousand men?  They would laugh at him, and he would be terrified and run from them, or be torn to pieces.

Imagine him without God, locked up in Gaza.  When he tries to escape, he is caught.  Where is his deliverance; without God he is like other men.  The secret of his strength lies in his consecration and in his God.  So, remember the secret of your strength. 

Never think that you have any power of your own; rely completely on God; and remember that the channel through which that strength must come to you must be your consecration to God.

          III.       The third point is, THERE IS A DANGER FOR THE CONSECRATED MAN. 

 

The danger is that his locks may be cut, that is to say, that his consecration may be broken down.  As long as he is consecrated he is strong; but break that, and he is as weak as water. 

 

Now, there are a thousand razors which the Devil can use to shave off the locks of a consecrated man.  He is cleverer than any barber; he can shave off believer’s locks without them knowing it.  Let me tell you about some of the razors that he can use to accomplish his work.  Sometimes he uses the sharp razor of pride, and when the Christian is not watching, he comes with it and says, “You’re a good man and you have done some pretty good things.  People appreciate you and they talk well of you.”  The razor of pride will cut off his locks and he won’t even notice that they are gone.  He will just think to himself, “I’m pretty brave!  I’m a great person!”  And that’s how the razor of pride works.  When you wake up, you find that you are bald, and all your strength is gone.  Have you ever had that razor on your head?  I confess, I have had it on mine.  Pride had been doing its work, when you complimented yourself for being patient, or for turning aside from some temptation.  Pride is a violation of our consecration, because in that pride we take away from God’s glory.  Listen.  God will never give you strength to use to glorify yourself with.  God will give you a crown; but not to put on your own head.  When a Christian begins to recount his feats and triumphs, and make himself great, God will cut him down.

There is still another more blatant danger, and that is when a consecrated man begins to change his purpose in life and to live for himself; that is a razor that shaves clean, indeed.  The example here is the minister who starts out his service by saying, “My only object is to preach the Gospel faithfully and to honor my master.”  In time, tempted by Satan, he changes his tone and talks like this, “I need to tone down my sermons to keep from stepping on anybody’s toes.  I don’t want anyone to leave and go to another church.  That would look bad and what would my friends think.”  When a preacher begins to care so much about what the world thinks it is all over for him.  When he goes to his pulpit he must have this on his mind, “I have a message to deliver, and whether they will hear it or not, I will deliver it as God has laid it on my heart.”  A man who will not let the opinions of others move him is mighty indeed. 

Now just suppose that this person desires wealth and to feather his own nest; and that is the object of his life.  I am not only speaking of the ministry, but of all the consecrated; for as sure as ever, if we make self the primary object of our existence, our locks are cut.  God doesn’t give us strength to use for ourselves, or put us into a high position so that we can look after our own interests.  Do you remember Queen Esther: she was exalted from being a simple maiden to being the wife of king Ahasuerus.  Well, Haman got a decree against her nation; that they should be destroyed.  But poor Mordecai comes to Esther and says, “You must go into the king and speak to him.”  “Well”, she says, “but if I do I will die.”  And Mordecai says, “If you hold your peace at this time, then another deliverer will be raised up from among the Jews, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed; and who knows, you may have been placed in this position for such a time as this?”  Esther was not made Queen Esther so that she could make herself glorious, but that she might be in a position to save the Jews; and now if she prefers herself before her country, it is all over with her.  And so, if God prospers you, you may get into a position and say, “Here I am; I will look out for myself; I have been serving the church, but now I am going to look after myself a little.”  Human nature will say, “You must look after your family,” (which means, you must look after yourself).  But if you do it as your main object in life, you will ruin yourself.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these shall be added to you.”  If you have two masters and two objects to serve, you will serve neither. 

If you are a Christian, above all things take care of your consecration. Desire to be completely given up to God and to God alone.

   IV.        Now, our last point is, there is THE CHRISTIAN’S DISGRACE. 

 

His locks are cut off; his head is bear.  I have seen him, and you, who are older than I, have seen him more than I have.  I have seen him in the ministry.  He spoke like a true man of God and the people hung on to every word that he spoke; he seemed to have sound doctrine and to be sincere.  I have seen him turn aside from the truth, just a little bit.  I have watched as he failed to preach about hell, about sin, about tithing, about drinking, about smoking, about short skirts; as he gave up doctrine after doctrine, until people stopped listening to him at all.  Have you seen him?  What a disgrace?  Now there are two ways of accounting for this. It is thought that such a man is either a hypocrite or a fallen believer.  Sometimes people say about this type of person, “Look, there’s a fallen Christian.”  But listen.  The Children of God are always safe.  These men, who have turned aside and broken their consecration vow, may be said to be a disgrace to their church.

 

But if you are a member of Christ’s church you have seen men who served well as soldiers of the cross, but in time they left, “because they are not one of us,” or like Sampson you have seen them go down with their eyes put out, with their feet in shackles and with their strength gone.  That was figurative speaking, of course. 

Now do any of you wish to be backsliders?  Do you wish to betray your religion?  I don’t believe that there is one of us who has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ who desires to be a deserter.  

Is there anyone who would want to be like Sampson and have his eyes put out, and be made to grind at the mill? 

Would you like to be like David and commit a great sin and go to the grave with a broken heart? 

Would you like to be like Lot and get drunk and fall into lust?  No!  I know what you would say.  “Lord, lead me down the right path.  Give me the grace to serve you, like Caleb, with a perfect heart, so that all through my life I will be a shinning light, which will guide others to Christ.” 

I believe I know what you desire, but how can it be accomplished?  Guard your consecration; be sure that it is sincere and that you mean it, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you daily grace.  Just as God gave manna daily, you need food from heaven daily.  And remember, it is not by any grace that is in you, but by the grace that is in Christ, and that must be given to you hour by hour, so that you can be faithful until the end. 

I ask for your prayers that I may be faithful to my Lord; and I will pray for you, that you will serve him as long as you have breath.

And for you who have not given yourself to God, and are not consecrated to Him, may God give you grace that you may be consecrated to Christ; so that you will rejoice in him, whether living or dying, and will share with Him the glory of His Father for ever.

If that’s what you desire, begin to know Christ today as your Savior.  You know that Salvation is by faith in Christ, so ask him to save you and to forgive your sins.  He will turn no one away. Amen.  Let’s pray.    

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