Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Overcoming Your Past

Overcoming Your Past
         Many today are looking back on life.  We struggle with the enemies of our past who have defeated or wounded us.  Go to the book of Judges with me and let’s start in chapter 16 as we look at Samson’s strength, weakness, struggle and victory.
         The story of Samson starts in chapter 13 with his barren mother being visited by the angel of the Lord.  He tells her that she will have a son and he will be a Nazirite, which means no drinking alcohol or eating anything that is not kosher as well as never cutting his hair.  This was the practice of the Nazirites from the Numbers 6.  The wife tells the soon to be father who wants the angel to visit him as well.  The angel reappears to his wife.  She runs and gets Manoah who comes and asks for instructions for raising Samson. 
         It’s interesting to note that the angel tells Manoah that his wife needs to obtain from everything that Samson isn't suppose to have.  There’s a message to parents today.  If we won’t let your kids watch it, say it, or do it because it’s not good or godly, then we should avoid it as well.  Oh well, I’ve gone to meddling… back to the story.
After a back in forth about knowing the name of the Angel, they make sacrifice to the Lord and the angel ascends into the pillar of fire from the sacrifice.  The future parents are scared that they will die having seen a theophany, God manifested as a being.  It’s just like us to have common fears even in the face of uncommon events.  Here we have God telling them that they are going to have a son who will judge Israel and deliver them, and they are worried that they will die from the encounter which would prevent the fulfillment of the word they just received.  We are all like that at times.  Moses ran from his staff when God turned it into a snake, because Moses for afraid!  We can find these things all through the bible.
         Manoah’s wife has Samson who grows up with the Spirit of the Lord on him.  He finds a wife and in the process of getting married gets sideways with her and her relatives, goes out and kills 30 philistines takes their clothes gives them to the groomsmen and leaves in anger.  After he cools off he comes back to get his wife only to find out she is married to the best man from the wedding.  This sets him off and he goes out and gets a bunch of foxes, ties them together in pairs, puts a torch between them and lets them run through the fields of the philistines burning all the crops.  After that, he lives in a cave until the Israelites come to get him and bring him to the philistines because of the impending war over the foxes.  Samson agrees to be bound and when he gets in the middle of their enemies, he breaks the ropes and beats a 1000 of them to death with a jawbone of a donkey.  This was the common thing for Samson for 20 years until he meets a woman named Delilah.
Delilah’s name means “delicate”.  The root meaning of the name means “to be brought low or to be languid”.  Delilah was made with the purpose of bringing Samson down making him weak and lacking in spirit.
Judges 16
4 Sometime later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces[b] of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
7 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
8 So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. 9 She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
… 17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down,[d] and his strength left him.
20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
         From my studies there were 5 kings of the philistines.  Philistia was a Pentapolis in south-western Levant, comprising Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza.  Another 5 kings had come against Israel before in Joshua 13 and the enemy learned from their defeat they couldn't come at the children of God directly.  This is why we see them here using “delicate” Delilah. 
Go with me to Joshua 10 and let’s read.
16 Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, 18 he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. 19 But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”
24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.
25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26 Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.
They were formidable enemies then and now.  Each of them have a weapon meant to overthrown your vow to God and do to you what was done to Samson.  Let’s quickly look at them to understand what we are facing today as Christians. 
Ashkelon - “migration, taken, the fire of shame; contempt”
Sudden Seize You in Shame
Ashdod - “a fortified place, to oppress and act violently, divided rock, to divide, cut up”
Take your Vision and divide it
Ekron - “uprooting, or emigration”
Take You Away From Your Calling
Gaza - ““fortified and strong”
Bind you in Sin (Bronze Chains)
Gath - “winepress”
Sell You into Slavery
This is what the enemy has planned for those who have made a vow.  If you are a Christian and name the name of Christ, that’s you!  Let’s put these names of the cities together and see if it paints a clear picture of what comprising sin will do to you.
The enemy seeks to suddenly seize you in shame; take your vision and cause division, remove your calling, bind you in sin, and sell you into slavery
Wow!  This is what sin and its masters want to do to you, but wait; we aren’t done with the story.  The next verse is about to give some of you who the enemy has bound up for years a reason to get excited.  Let’s read it together.
Judges 16:22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.
For those who are bound in the sins of the past, caught up in shame, and blinded in despair…
Your hair’s beginning to grow again
God is calling you to be set free. He wants to come in and break the chains of bondage.  I believe there is an anointing in this house for this to be a day of deliverance. 
So many of us have made vows to God only to have the enemy seduce us into stepping out of what God has for us; finding ourselves caught up in sin.  Once we are in it we can’t seem to break free from the chains of the past.  God is saying that He has not departed from you, your hair is growing and His spirit is upon you for your greatest victory. 
The best past is that Jesus’ blood covers it and there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).  That is a future tense, not a past tense.  Now is always a future tense.  When is now? It’s always coming around the corner. 
Let me give you what God is saying to your enemies.  They may have seized you, robbed you of vision and calling, bound you in the chains of sin and made you a slave, but thus says the Lord:
‘For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noonday, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks’ (Zephaniah 2.4-6).
Do you see that!  God has a place for the house to dwell, its pastors and its people.  Isaiah says in 62 that we are a city sought and not forsake.  In 61 he says that we will have double honor and no shame.  He is preparing us for the greatest of days.  Get your evangelism shoes on cause a harvest is coming.  He needs you to be free.  Free for the regret, shame and guilt of yesterday’s failures, pride, sin, mistakes… would you accept that? Would you be so bold to say I want to be free?  My bible says that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be save.  It says there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The enemy may think you are nothing but some Blinded Bound Believer they can parade around town shown everyone how you use to be great for God, but now he’s just another drunk or adulator, liar, or thief. A gossiper or bitter, hatful and self severing person going nowhere and doing nothing.  I’m telling you that many of you here today were calling into ministry, to preach, teach, lead worship, pray with power, bring souls into the kingdom, but you can’t see beyond your own sin.  It’s blinded you to something… Your hair has grown back and your strength has returned.  God wants to set our hearts on fire today for the calling He has for us.  Some today are going to go from here and witness to their neighbors, apologize to their ex-spouses, forgive their parents.  God is coming to make the hearts of men and women whole again.  I believe that today is the day that you will start the quest with God that will be your greatest victory ever! 
         Here is the answer to the enemy that God wants defeated. 
Luke 4:18-19 (NLT)“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to
Bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
That the blind will see,
That the oppressed will be set free,
That the time of the Lord’s favor has come

Five Weapons to defeat five Kings that placed five oppressive spirits on us.  Pretty awesome! 

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