April 24, 2014- 6:49pm
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While You Were Sleeping

Remember how Samson’s strength was in his hair never being cut? He ruled Israel for 20 years before the enemy, the Philistines, finally discovered the source of his strength. Remember the story of Samson and Delilah? I started in Judges 13 or 14 this morning and went through Judges 16. Part of chapter 16 is posted below.

Each of us, like Samson are set apart for God’s purpose. God has a plan for each of our lives. (I Pet 2:9, John 14:12) He enables us to carry out His purposes, providing all we need to do so. We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. (Phil 4:13) All the strength we need is in Christ, so how do we access or tap into that strength? There is a definite link between the joy of the Lord and our strength to carry out the purposes of God for our lives. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Psalm 16:11 says that in His presence there is FULNESS of joy. The connection is clear - the joy of the Lord makes us strong and we access that joy in God’s presence.

We associate so many things with “joy” that are temporal and in a state of flux all the time. If we search for joy through the things that make us feel “happy”, we will be on a rollercoaster ride that never stops. I love rollercoaster rides, but who wants to be on a ride that you can’t get off or one that never stops. I think even the hard core thrill seekers would need a barf bag. The joy that God gives does not fluctuate; there is always a sufficient supply. Access is never denied. Our relationship with Christ gives us 24/7 access. If our “joy levels” are dictated by circumstances, we will be all over the place, subject to every changing tide or shift in the wind.

We are set apart for God’s purposes.
We have the strength we need to fulfill those purposes.
The joy of the Lord is our STRENGTH.
We have all access to joy in God’s presence.
We have an enemy seeking to cut us off from joy which is our strength….

The enemy seeks to find the source of our strength. For Samson, his strength was in his hair. The enemy used someone that Samson loved to find out the secret source of his strength. Samson was a serious threat to the Philistines – aka, the enemy. Delilah pressed Samson, over and over again and wore him down until he finally told her all that was in his heart, namely the source of his strength. She revealed the source of Samson’s strength to the enemy. When she had put him to sleep on her knees (What betrayal!), she called the barber in to give him his first haircut. Those 7 braids may not have made it into his baby book, but they made it into God’s book for our benefit. We have an enemy who seeks to cut off our supply of strength, our joy!

We must recognize the enemy’s attempt to cut us off from our supply of strength. You remember the movie – “While You Were Sleeping?” Are we walking or living in our sleep? When we are not alert and spiritually prepared, it’s like sleep walking and the enemy sets in to catch us off guard, while we are sleeping, metaphorically speaking.

Here’s the enemy’s game plan. Find that “thing”, that button, that person, that situation that can be used to keep you out of God’s presence. The secret to a Christian’s strength is the joy of the Lord…which is acquired in God’s presence. If the enemy can keep you out of God’s presence, in essence he has cut off your strength and disarmed you.

What tool or instrument has the enemy used to keep you out of God’s presence? Is it a relationship that rocks your world, good or bad? Is it finances? Is it an addiction? Is it depression? Is it worry or discouragement? Is it a broken heart? Is it pride or self righteousness? The enemy is no respecter of tools…the only thing he cares about is removing you from your source of strength so you can longer do damage to his work. I have been fighting a lot lately and I am ready to put some serious hurt on the enemy. We are called to pull down strongholds, to do mighty things for the Lord, but we can’t do that in our own strength.

Today, without the presence of God, we have no real joy and we aren’t strong. Has the enemy used someone close to you to reveal what he can use over and over again to separate you from God’s presence? What has the enemy done while you were sleeping? Samson didn’t go to the barber shop to get a haircut. The enemy made a house call. My prayer is that we will first of all, wake up and recognize the tools that the enemy is using to steal our joy. Secondly, I pray we will set our faces like flint and press into the presence of God throughout the day, in spite of the onslaught of the enemy. Being in God’s presence brings everything into perspective. It reminds us and reassures us of who God is…GREATER is He that is in US than he that is in the world! We can walk in confidence and joy without fear or dread as we draw joy that translates into strength in God’s presence.

Nehemiah 8:10, Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Ps 16:11, Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Judges 16:4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels [a] of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued." 7 Samson answered her, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs [b] that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man." 8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh thongs that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered. 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied." 11 He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man." 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads. 13 Delilah then said to Samson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied." He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and [c] tightened it with the pin. Again she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric. 15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. 17 So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. [d] And his strength left him. 20 Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. 23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands."

24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
"Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain."

25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, "Bring out Samson to entertain us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. 31 Then his brothers and his father's whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led [e] Israel twenty years.

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