Archive for the ‘Philistine Take Down’ Category

What’s God Growing in Your Life?

August 9, 2010

Read Judges 16:21-31

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Fight the good fight of the faith. 1 Timothy 6:12

When we neglect to identify thoughts, actions, even unhealed emotional wounds, they remain as harlots of the mind and heart distancing us from Christ’s healing and redemptive power. Sampson was blinded and chained by the enemy God had strengthened him to defeat. Like Sampson, what we fail to conquer, eventually conquers us. Instead of delivering God’s enemies, Sampson served as a slave grinding their grain.

Even in prison, God did not abandon Sampson. Once again God used Sampson’s anger and desire for vengeance to bring Sampson to a place of self-sacrifice. We see God working in the rubble and decay of our human error and vain pursuits, turning the tables on the enemy. Our conditions and humiliations may overwhelm us, but they don’t overwhelm God or prevent His redemptive plan from kicking into place.

Sampson, who at an earlier time couldn’t resist enemy enticements, now simply wanted their destruction. At last, Sampson’s desires were aligned with God’s, and the Philistine prison became a place for the hair of Sampson’s head to grow. Strength was returning and victory was stirring.

Sampson’s life reminds us that no matter how unsalvageable your situation appears, when you release your desires to pursue God’s, the enemy thoughts and established plans for your life will crumble in a heap of ruins. What the Philistine’s planned for Sampson’s defeat, God planned as a final victory.

When we recognize enemy thoughts and desires, resist them by replacing them with a desire for God and His word, God will strengthen us to defeat the enemy. This allows us to live victorious lives of freedom.

Personal Response

Ask God to help you:

  • Recognize enemy thoughts and desires
  • Resist them
  • Replace them with God’s desires for your life

Stop Sleeping with the Enemy

August 6, 2010

Read Judges 16:1-20

But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. Genesis 4:7

Like a loving parent, God wants our hearts and minds protected. When we interpret life’s challenges as God’s neglect and our unmet desires as God’s withholding, we distance ourselves from Him, become our own protectors, and satisfy our desires in our own way. In doing this, like Sampson, we cut the relational strands that unite us with God.

Sampson cared more about sex than God’s desire to free His people or his own freedom over sin. What started as visits to enemy vineyards end up in Sampson’s sleeping with the enemy.

Sampson’s life teaches us that God’s sheep should not be living in the pig pen. There are dangerous places that moms don’t let their kids visit, play, or stay. Once our thinking is off, so follows our behavior. Sampson began his descent by placing himself in a lifestyle of temptation. By giving into his lusts and desires, godly character never developed. As a result he was eventually drained of any strength or ability to resist temptation, and was captured and imprisoned by the enemy.

It’s easy to believe that our thoughts and actions are far from Sampson’s cesspool thinking and lifestyle. Those were my thoughts until my husband presented a plan for investing a sum of money. Concerned about the current shaken economy, I began to pray asking God if this was a wise investment plan. Instead of receiving guidance on investing, I sensed God was targeting a heart issue, namely did I trust Him. I realized my mind was lodging a visitor…worry also known as fear.

I find myself sleeping with the enemy anytime I allow my mind to repeatedly dwell on the injustices I’ve experienced. This includes repeatedly turning over and over in my mind offensive or hurtful words spoken by others or actions of others carried out against me. I’m sleeping with the enemy when I’m unable to release thoughts of regret, guilt, and shame. Oh how I hate the enemy repeat thought cycles with their shouldas, wouldas, if onlys, and why didn’t I. These harlots of the mind imprison and rob me from the peace and freedom Christ purchased.

Although Christ purchased our freedom, living free isn’t easy and doesn’t come without a battle. The negative thoughts that breed ugly emotions need to be resisted. Injustices come, think about Joseph’s life, but God uses them to develop godly character in us.

Christ came to save sinners. Calvary alone makes us saints, not our behaviors. Your sins don’t disqualify you from His love, they identify your need for it and for His forgiveness and empowerment to equip you to conquer sin.

Personal Response

When enemy thoughts come, determine to follow God’s instructions for thinking identified in Philippians 4:8. Redirect destructive thinking by redirecting your thoughts to:

  • Whatever is true (thinking on the truth is thinking on Jesus, who is the truth)
  • Whatever is noble (exalted moral or mental character, admirably high quality, excellent)
  • Whatever is right (thinking about what is fair and just)
  • Whatever is pure (thoughts free of contamination)
  • Whatever is lovely (that which is charmingly, exquisitely, or morally beautiful, a beauty that appeals to the heart and mind)
  • Whatever is admirable (things worthy of praise or approval that deserve a good reputation)

Never Underestimate Your Source

August 4, 2010

Read Judges 15:1-17

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12

Sampson insults his bride deserting her on their wedding night hell-bent on vengeance only to return months later with the gift of a young goat. Possibly some sort of make up gift (women today prefer flowers or chocolates over a young goat) to either appease his guilt (assuming he has any) or to diffuse the anger of the woman he abandoned.

Discovering his wife married a man who committed to both showing up and sticking around on their wedding night, Sampson devised an elaborate plan to avenge his loss and retaliate against those who robbed him of his bride. Sampson tied 150 torches between the tails of 300 foxes and sent these terrified animals zigzagging frantically through the Philistine fields. Their four-fold destruction included, first, destroying the standing grain; second, the shocks of harvested grain; third, the vineyards; and fourth, the olive groves. This was a devastating blow to the economy’s grain and wine production and a mockery to Dagon, the Philistine god of grain or harvest.

In pursuing Sampson, the Philistines camped out in Judah. They may have thought they’d have to fight the Israelites to get Sampson, but the Israelites had no desire to fight. They already conceded to Philistine rule and didn’t want Sampson to stir the pot of their compliance. Instead of securing their freedom, in their despondent state they wondered why Sampson hadn’t acknowledged Philistine supremacy.

Planning to continue on with their lives while maintaining the current status quo, they deliver Sampson over to the Philistines. Once again the Spirit of the Lord, which was Sampson’s source of strength, came upon him. With God’s empowerment, Sampson single-handedly killed 1000 Philistines.

The Israelites give us a picture of the error of looking at the enemy, comparing our strength to theirs, and as a result, trembling at our inadequacy. In doing this we fail to see ourselves as soldier in God’s army fighting with His strength and empowerment. When we lose sight of God’s overcoming power, we worship a false god called fear.

Sampson, on the other hand, shows us the deception of thinking of believing we can fight in our own strength and win. Here is another false god called pride. When we see God as an adequate strength and the source of our strength, God becomes our purpose and motivation for overcoming.

Because Sampson failed to see God as his source of strength, he failed to see the battle victory was from the Lord. When his energy no longer allowed him to provide for his thirst, he calls out to God with a request for water but with an accusation of God’s negligence in not providing water. Why do we wait until life’s challenges dry us out until we cry out to our true source?

Personal Response

Are you getting trapped in comparative thinking?

  • Making others a standard of measuring your value. This faulty thinking commonly results in dismissing God’s power and purpose within you.

Have you fallen into the deceptive thinking of interpreting the challenges or conflicts you face as God’s absence or neglect?  Examples of this “Philistine” thinking are:

  • If God loved me He wouldn’t have allowed….
  • If God loved me He would have prevented or changed…

In the Midst of the Mess, God is at Work

August 2, 2010

Read Judges 14:10-20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. Genesis 50:20-21

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. Psalm 71:14-15

Sampson’s strength and behavior must have been a concern for the bride’s parents. Providing thirty guards to police the wedding festivities wasn’t a typical wedding expense. Nonetheless, peaceful serenity rarely occurs when Sampson is around.

For Sampson, greed triumphed over good sense. It wasn’t enough that he was pursuing a marriage with an unbeliever, partying in wine country, he was now scheming a way to increase his earnings on his wedding day.

Like Sampson, our selfish pursuits blind us. We fail to recognize the compromises we make while grasping what we want. We are clueless to the hurt and injury our words and behaviors inflict upon others. A shot of humility could enlighten Sampson to the danger of living for oneself, allow him to see how his choices impact others, and instead of living a life of self-indulgence, discover the freedom of self-sacrifice.

Since the Garden of Eden, God’s been pursuing us, promising redemption, and carrying out His redemptive plan for the world. Leave it to God to work through our selfishness and disobedience. Although our choices, like Sampson’s, rob us, they do not hinder God from conquering the enemy and accomplishing His redemptive plans. If Sampson wouldn’t develop godly character in his life, then God would allow his self-indulgent lifestyle to become a thorn in the flesh to the enemy.Since Sampson wouldn’t sett himself apart from the enemy, God used enemy betrayal, manipulation, and death threats to stir Sampson’s anger so strongly that he launched an enemy attack.

It’s interesting how God works. Sampson’s battles with the Philistines were always single handed. This was a strategy similar to the Philistines who oppressed Israel, not by great army attacks, but by repeated small party attacks destroying their crops and plundering their villages and homes. Leave it to God to turn the tables on the enemy.

Personal Response

It’s easy to become disappointed and disillusioned with those pursuing selfish desires while living disobedient lives. We all feel the pain and injury that results. Although we can’t avoid being impacted by what we see, hear, feel, or experience, we are never without hope. Sampson’s life shows us that God uses godly and ungodly choices to work His redemptive plans to conquer the enemy.

Be Set Apart: Let God’s Lordship Influence Your Behaviors

July 29, 2010

Read Judges 14:1-9

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. James 1:14-16 (ESV)

Instead of living a life set apart for God, Sampson lived for himself. He refused God’s lordship, dismissed God instructions, and what began as visits to the enemy, became marriage with a woman whose family and culture worshipped a foreign god. We do the same thing when we pursue what we want, when we want it, and pay no attention to what God wants for our lives.

Sampson disregarded God’s marriage instructions (even when reminded by his parents that he was not to be yoked to an unbeliever). It’s possible that Sampson disregarded the Nazirite restriction of not touching anything dead in order to satisfy his sweet tooth with honey.

Sadly enough, Sampson’s reasoning for marrying a woman of Timnah was, “She looks good to me.” Sampson’s fleshly thinking nurtured his fleshly desires and eventually influenced his decisions and actions. Since the Garden of Eden we’ve desired things that, although they appear sweet, are dangerous. Instead of pursuing them, we need to conquer them as Sampson defeated the lion. The impact of Adam and Eve pursuing their own desires and biting into the forbidden fruit introduced evil desires into our hearts. As a result, we need to learn to distinguish evil from good. Left to our own reasoning, we will not distinguish good from evil. Choosing God’s lordship in our lives aligns us with One who is truly good. Believing His truth and following His instructions keeps us safe in God’s protective care. Remaining here we are freed from the slavery that Sampson succumbed to in following his fleshly reasoning and in pursuing his desires and plans.

What wine is your mind drinking in and what choices are you making as a result of your thoughts. Let Sampson’s life invite you to question:

  • What have I allowed to influence my thinking?
  • What have I accepted as good?
  • What beliefs are influencing my behavior and driving my actions?

Be Set Apart: Resist Enemy Thoughts

July 27, 2010

Read Judges 13:6-24

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

God’s covenant keeping heart doesn’t stop Him from loving or pursuing the children who have deserted Him. While the Israelites accepted enemy ways and their dominance, God refused to give them up. God sent an angel of the Lord to share with a barren woman that He would give her a child that He would strengthen and empower to begin Israel’s deliverance. This woman shares her encounter with her husband Manoah who, wanting additional details, prays for a second visit. God grants the request which ends with a dramatic climax. Manoah is terrified as a flame appears from the altar which, along with the angel of the Lord, ascends toward heaven. Seeing this, the couple fall with their faces to the ground in fear and awe. Manoah’s initial response of fearful reverence escalates to fearful hysteria as seen in his shouting, “We are doomed to die! . . . We have seen God!”

Thank goodness for a rational and reasonable wife who brings perspective to Manoah’s frenzied panic attack. This wise woman reminds her husband that God visited them because He cares about them and their nation. His intention is to deliver them, not destroy them. Lastly, since God promised to birth a deliverer through them, it doesn’t make sense that He would destroy them.

Manoah made the error of interpreting life’s happenings through the lens of fear. This resulted in distrusting the goodness of God and dismissing His promises. It’s likely that he would have fallen into despair and depression if his wife hadn’t spoken words of truth which brought God’s perspective to their situation.

Like Manoah’s wife, when facing fearful thoughts and circumstances, chose to believe and speak words of life. Bring to mind the goodness of God including His faithfulness and unending love. Reflect on God’s promises. Because Manoah’s wife trusted in God’s goodness and faithfulness, she did not accept an ancient Jewish superstition that death would result if you saw God or an angel. Her belief in the goodness of God conquered fear.

Personal Response

Satan’s enemy attacks haven’t changed much and their strategy remains the same. First is the invitation to question God’s goodness, next to distrust His Word, and lastly disobey His instructions. As the enemy invited Eve to question God’s goodness and to distrust His word, he planted fearful thoughts to Manaoh, and he is presenting lies to us today. Below are a number of faulty beliefs that need to be resisted and replaced with God’s truth. Use the examples below to help discover enemy lies targeted at your life.

False belief says: My life is barren and empty.

God’s Word says:

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NASB)

False belief says: I am insignificant.

God’s Word says:

  • You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4 (ESV)
  • For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6

False belief says: My life is meaningless and purposeless.

God’s Word says:

  • For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

False belief says: God has abandoned and deserted me.

God’s Word says:

  • The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8
  • Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Psalm 27:10

Be Set Apart: By Protecting Your Mind

July 23, 2010

Read Judges 13:1-5

No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Judges 13:5

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

At a time when Israel was influenced by the Philistine beliefs, intermingling and embracing their ungodly lifestyle, and accepting their domination, God birthed a child through a barren woman to begin delivering Israel from enemy rule.

From his birth Sampson was to be a life-long Nazirite living distinctively different than others. As a Nazirite he was to avoid drinking wine, avoid physical contact with dead bodies, and was not to cut his hair. This pattern of living would allow Sampson’s life to stand out in direct contrast to the ungodly lifestyle assimilated by the Israelites.

Why the restriction of wine for Sampson and what’s the relevance of this story for us today? I think we miss the point if we use these passages to conclude whether or not to refrain from or enjoy drinking a glass of Merlot. The story’s message focuses on our need to accept God’s Word and instructions as truth and live accordingly. The Israelites were intoxicated having accepted beliefs and values that were in direct violation to the lifestyle God directed.

For Sampson, avoiding wine was a protection and strategy in preventing toxic pollutants from infiltrating his thinking. This same message is given in Romans 12:2…”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Satan’s attempts to deceive are as alive today as they were in the Garden of Eden. The serpent encouraged Eve to believe the fruit was good for her offering her wisdom. She accepted his reasoning believing God was withholding from her. As Eve bit into the fruit, the Israelites bought into the lie that it was reasonable and beneficial to live under Philistine rule. What lies are we rationalizing and buying into today?

Even at a time when Israel contaminated their minds and hearts with enemy beliefs, when they had no awareness of their need for God, no desire for Him, and no interest in his lordship, God pursued them. He was at work behind enemy lines birthing a deliverer to call them back to the protective shelter of His truth and unending love. He continues to call to us today.

Personal Response

We read God’s instructions for a godly life in the Bible. Jesus lived a life fully embracing and living out God’s truth. The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer revealing truth and exposing deception. Ask the Holy Spirit today to reveal any enemy lies you have embraced. They may include:

  • Cultural values
  • Childhood beliefs
  • Negative words spoken by others
  • Thoughts that bring fear
  • Thoughts that question God’s goodness, love, or faithfulness

When Philistines Attack, Fight Back!

July 22, 2010

Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson,“Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us?” Judges 15:11

We all, like the Israelites, need to battle the Philistines and not allow them to rule. Any thought, agreement, attachment, belief, or decision that is allowed to reign in your life is a Philistine. As long as you give them power, they usurp the Lordship of Christ. During the time of Sampson, the Israelites became content with Philistine domination. Instead of recognizing and battling these opponents, they lived life according to enemy standards never possessing the freedom and fullness that God desired for them.

Any time thoughts come inviting you to doubt God’s love, goodness and faithfulness, your mind has been hit by a Philistine arrow. When you feel unloved, that God is withholding good things from you, or that He has abandoned you, another Philistine arrow has penetrated your heart.

Although you can’t prevent the Philistines from attacking, you can prevent them from ruling by determining to believe what God says is true. Regardless of what you are thinking or feeling, resist enemy attacks by battling with God’s Word. Battling might involve reading, reciting, memorizing, praying, or speaking God’s Word aloud. Coupled with speaking it, determine to believe it.

Don’t feel guilty for the thoughts and emotions that come, recognize you are in the midst of a battle and fight back. Let God’s Word become the bullets in your gun, the arrows in your quiver, the lightning in your sword. Start shooting back, aiming and releasing, and swing wildly and ferociously. Remember that you never battle alone. God is in His Word partnering with you as you fight to establish His lordship in your life.

Take Down the Philistines: God’s Deliverance through Sampson

July 21, 2010

Read Judges 13-16

Travel with me exploring the life of Sampson and discover God’s desired deliverance for your life. Be careful not to think of the Philistines simply as Israel’s attacking enemies of the past. Instead recognize them as any thoughts, agreements, attachments, beliefs and resulting behaviors that usurp Christ’s Lordship in your life.

Determine to conquer the Philistines that launch their arrows into your mind and heart. Refuse to allow them to influence your actions or behaviors. Determine to fight back in order to establish Christ’s Lordship in your life. Choose to live in the freedom and fullness God desires for your life.

Christ has delivered you. It’s time to live like it.

I’m looking forward to journeying with you,