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Wasted Potential of a World Changer: The Devil's Dangerous Tactics

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2020 3:00 am

Wasted Potential of a World Changer: The Devil's Dangerous Tactics

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 11, 2020 3:00 am

So you go online to a retail site for trash bags, and now every other website you go to shows you ads for trash bags. Are they watching you? Yes, they are! They know what you want, and they want to sell it to you.

Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says the Devil knows what you want, too. And he wants to give it to you and sell your reputation down the river. Today, Pastor Greg reminds us of our adversary’s tactics, and how to resist them.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Hey, I want to hear from you. Would you consider emailing me? You can reach me at Greg at Harvest dot org. Again, that's Greg at Harvest dot org.

And you can also make me one of your friends on Facebook and drop me a comment. When the devil brings temptation, it's always going to be attractive. Listen, the devil may be wicked, but he's not stupid. He knows how to package his wares. He knows how to sell his stuff.

And he knows how to direct market to you. Our adversary is observant and devious. Pastor Greg Laurie warns us that the devil knows your weakness and he's willing to exploit it.

What's your Achilles heel? Oh, you like this? And I'm going to bring that to you. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing.

This is the day, the day when life begins. So you go online to a retail site for some trash bags and now every other site you go to shows you ads for trash bags. Are they watching you?

Yes, they are. They know what you want and they want to sell it to you. Well, today on a new beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says the devil knows what you want to and he wants to give it to you and sell your reputation down the river. Today Pastor Greg reminds us of our adversary's tactics and how to resist them. This is the day, the day when life begins. You know one thing I found in life is it's just full of surprises.

Isn't it? The longer you live it's like wow. Now that is not what I expected to happen. There are unexpected pleasures and blessings that come your way. Sometimes surprises that are sad. Others that are tragic.

Some that are downright inexplicable. But you know I have been surprised at how some people's lives have turned out. There are people I knew maybe in high school that I thought this person is never going to amount to anything. This person I don't know what is going to happen with their life but sometimes we call them geeks and nerds.

By the way nowadays we call them boss sometimes. But then there are other people I knew that man they were the one. They had that extraordinary gift. They had that natural charisma. They were that born leader and you thought that person is going to make their mark on the world. And then maybe they went out and crashed and burned.

I have known people that had incredible spiritual giftedness from God. They could preach. They could sing.

They could do a lot of things. I thought wow you are going to hear all about their ministry. And they maybe had a ministry for a time and then seemingly out of nowhere they just sort of self-destructed. Or maybe it was a more gradual process.

Well we are in our world changer series. And we are going to look at a guy who had an amazing beginning but not a great ending. And in fact I have to admit I am even a little surprised he made it into the Heroes Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. In fact his name is just mentioned among other names Samson.

He is just included. I mean it was surprising to me that Gideon got in this group. But Samson after his colossal failure. I mean in contrast to Gideon who really knew he was really on the lowest rung of the ladder. And basically when he was called by God he said, Lord I am the runt of the litter.

I am the lowest of the low. Samson in contrast thought he was all that and a bag of chips. And he was a mighty man. And for a time he was a mighty man of God. And even for a time he was a true world changer. But also in time the world began to change him as he turned his back on God. He had an amazing beginning and a tragic ending.

And listen. We decide how our story will end spiritually. You don't decide the day of your death any more than you decided the day of your birth. You don't decide how you will die or where you will die. But you do decide the spiritual state you will be in when you die. And we don't know when that day will come. You say no God decides that.

No actually you decide that. God wants you close to Him. God wants you in friendship and fellowship and intimacy with Him.

But that is my choice to have that relationship with the Lord or not to have that relationship with the Lord. Judge Neil Gorsuch he was asked when he retires how he will know whether or not he has been a good judge. And when I was asked I thought well that is a fascinating question.

Not normally what you hear. And I loved his response. He said, Senator that is a question I ask my kids every semester where I teach ethics. And he has his students write their own obituary.

He says some of the thing gets a bit corny but others like it and will even read them to the class. Kind of like what do you want to be remembered for. And then Judge Gorsuch said, What I want to be remembered for is being a good man, a good father, a loving husband.

I thought what great qualities to think about. Have you ever written your own obituary? See one day your obituary will be printed in a paper. Your life will be summed up in a paragraph or two on a bulletin that will be handed out at your funeral service. And nobody cares about how much money you made. Nobody cares about how much stuff you owned.

Nobody cares how high you climbed in your profession or anything like that. They will talk about what kind of person you were. What kind of son or daughter or husband or wife or mom or dad you were. They will talk about those qualities of life. Those are the things that really matter.

And they will also talk about your faith. And here is Samson who if you were to write his obituary this was not a great ending. That is why the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7 and 8, The end of a matter is better than its beginning. The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, quote, Great is the art of beginning but greater is the art of ending. End quote. You know if you are running in a race and you are holding the first place position for nine out of ten laps and then fall on the field and don't complete the race it really doesn't matter what you did does it?

You have to cross the finish line and preferably be there before anybody else gets there and win the race you are running. And so the idea is we want to finish well not just start well but God gave him a second chance. So let's see what we can learn from his life. If you are taking notes here is point number one. Samson had a great beginning.

Point number one. Samson had a great beginning. I mean he had superhuman qualities. Physically there was none stronger. He was faster than a speeding bullet. He was able to leap over tall buildings in a single. No I get the wrong guy there.

Wait a second. That Superman. But he was sort of like a superhero.

I mean think about this guy. He was a one man army. On one occasion he killed 30 Philistines to settle a bet.

The Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites. On another occasion he killed a thousand Philistine warriors on the battlefield with a bone that he picked up off the ground. Not a sword or a spear.

A bone. This guy was incredible. He took a lion once and ripped it apart with his bare hands and he wasn't you know a fictitious superhero like you read about in DC Comics or Marvel Comics. Samson was more powerful than the Hulk.

He was smarter than Doctor Strange. And he was the real deal. And it appears that Jesus Christ himself announced his birth because an angel of the Lord appeared to a woman married to a man named Manoah. And the angel told her she is going to have a son who will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. And then she told her husband.

He said, well I want to meet this guy. And the angel shows up again. And then they ask him, what is your name? And the angel says, why do you ask my name seeing it is wonderful? And it makes me wonder, wait was that a Christophany?

You know what a Christophany is right? And the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament? Because what does God say of the Messiah in Isaiah 9.6?

You will call his name Wonderful Counselor. So the angel says, why should I tell you my name seeing it's wonderful. So it could have been the Lord.

But that's significant if Jesus Christ is announcing your birth. And God's spirit came upon Samson to make a stand at a very dark time in the history of Israel. Similar to Gideon's time.

Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. And the Bible also says and judges that the word of the Lord was scarce in those days. So Samson was dedicated to the Lord and God wanted him to take the vow of a Nazarite. Among other things that meant that you would never drink alcohol and secondly that you would grow your hair out. Now sometimes we think Samson, his strength came from his hair. And I hope that's not true because if strength comes from hair.

My wife is a mighty warrior and I am worthless. So he never cut his hair. And his strength did not come from his hair. It came from his commitment to God symbolized by his hair.

By the way here's an interesting little twist on the story. The Bible never says Samson was well built or muscular. I think when we envision him we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian right? You know all pumped up.

I am here to pump you up. You know long hair. That's Samson right?

Well not necessarily. You know the Bible tells us that Joseph was well built, muscular. Bible tells us that David was very strong. But whenever Samson did one of his feats of strength the Spirit of God would come upon him.

So what if he was like a scrawny little dude right? Wore glasses with tape on the bridge you know. I don't know. Pocket protector. Hello I am Samson.

Hi. Who knows? We don't know anything about him in that way. But what he did was from God. He didn't do it in his own strength when God's Spirit would come upon him. So he has a great beginning. He is dedicated to the Lord. His birth announced by the Lord.

At the very least an angel. But no sooner does he get started when he starts doing the wrong things. He blatantly disobeys God and goes and marries a Philistine woman. They worship false gods. And this was something God told them not to do.

And this caused a lot of problems. And then after that he got involved with a prostitute who lived down in Gaza. And he would go down to Gaza and he would be with this prostitute. And so the devil threw out the bait and Samson took it hooker line and sinker.

Ok. Here is Samson's problem. He had power without purity. He had strength without self-control. And I think he also took this supernatural strength God gave him for granted. Thinking it would always be there.

Listen. For 20 years he experienced the thrill of victory. Even when he was compromising. Even when he sinned. The Lord still gave him the strength to do amazing things. So he probably thought it would always be there.

But one day it wasn't. The devil sized him up. Found his Achilles heel. And came up with a hack. I know how to get this guy. And he designed a special instrument to bring Samson down and her name was Delilah.

We'll see how effective Delilah was in bringing down this great strong man. As Pastor Greg continues his message in just a moment. We love to hear stories of how lives have been changed through Greg Laurie's teachings of God's word through the years. Pastor Greg, I grew up listening to you whenever we were in my mom's car driving somewhere.

My first concert was in the fourth grade to see Zoe Girl at your Riverside campus. Recently I've been overcome with anxiety and fear in regards to the coronavirus and the end of the world stuff. I started listening to your sermons again and you've helped me so much. Your voice and teaching is one that really calms me. I feel like the Lord is drawing me nearer and closer to him when I had unknowingly been distanced from him. Thank you for the wake up call and for your continued ministry. I find myself tearing up because I'm so blessed. Thank you. It's so encouraging when we hear that listeners are growing by hearing these studies. Do you have a story to tell of how Pastor Greg's teachings have impacted your life?

If so, would you let us know? Call us at 1-866-871-1144. That's 866-871-1144. And now Pastor Greg continues our study of Samson in his message called Wasted Potential of a World Changer. Let's listen. So this beautiful, delicate, feminine, probably petite girl comes up to Samson and he's attracted to her and this proved to be his undoing.

So let's look at the story now. Judges 16 starting in verse 4. By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, entice him and find out where his great strength lies and by what means we may overpower him so we can bind him to afflict him and every one of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver. So Delilah said to Samson, please tell me where your great strength lies and with what you may be bound to afflict you. Samson said, if they bind me with seven fresh bow strings, not yet dried, I'll become weak like any other man. So the lords of the Philistines brought up the seven fresh bow strings and they're lying in wait and staying with her in the room and she said to him, the Philistines are upon you Samson and he broke the bow strings as a strand of yard breaks when it touches fire.

So the secret of his strength was not known. We'll stop there. So these Philistines are determined to bring Samson down They offer Delilah the equivalent of $5,000.

We'll pay you five grand. Just find out the secret of his strength bringing me to point number two. Temptation comes in attractive packages. Point number one, Samson had a good beginning.

Point number two, temptation comes in attractive packages. I'm sure Delilah was a very attractive woman. They're not gonna hire some homely girl.

They'll hire a fox effectively. Okay, she'll catch his eye. We know that for sure. And when the devil brings temptation, it's always gonna be attractive.

Listen, the devil may be wicked, but he's not stupid. He knows what he's doing. He knows how to package his wares.

He knows how to sell his stuff and he knows how to direct market to you. This has really been discovered a lot now with people buying on the internet. Remember when that was an unusual thing? Now so many things are purchased on the internet. I know this recently because I bought six beach chairs on the internet and I wanted two.

But I messed up the order and I got too many. But here's the weird thing. You order something and then they notice what you order and then there's these little pop-up ads for things like that that come up because now they've kind of figured you out.

Okay, this guy's weird. He likes lots of beach chairs. So let's market beach chairs and things related to beach chairs to this guy. It's all these little pop-up ads. You know what I'm talking about? And they're popping up because that's direct marketing. That's the artificial intelligence working. And you go, oh, I didn't know that was out there. Click, click, click, click and there it goes.

Devil does the same thing. Okay, so what do you like? What's your weakness? What are you drawn to? What's your Achilles heel?

Oh, you like this? And I'm gonna bring that to you and I'm gonna bring all the problems that come with it. Don't forget when Eve and Adam were tempted, the Bible says the fruit of the tree was pleasant to look upon. So the devil sized up Samson and figured him out. He was a he-man with a she-weakness.

Point number three. For temptation to succeed, we must be a willing participant. For temptation to succeed, we must be a willing participant. For temptation to work its magic, if you will, there must be desire on our part. James 1, 14 to 15 says, everyone is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and is enticed and when desire is conceived, he gives birth to sin and sin when it's full grown brings forth death. For Satan to succeed, we must listen, yield and desire what he wants. So we must listen and yield to and want what he's offering. He offers different kinds of bait but it's not the bait that constitutes sin, it's the bite.

Let me say that again. It's not the bait that constitutes sin, it's the bite. Another way of saying it, it's not a sin to be tempted. So if you're tempted, oh, I'm so twisted, I can't believe that temptation came, it has nothing to do with you. The devil can throw anything at you and it pops into your mind or whatever and it's not a bad thing until you make it your thing, you see. If you say, forget that, man. I'm not thinking about that.

Get behind me, Satan. That's great. But then if you say, oh, that's interesting, I think I'll take that for a test drive. I think I'll try that free sample.

I think I'll think about that a little bit and that's where the problem begins. So the devil observes Samson, saw how you would bring him down. He thought, I'm not gonna bring this guy down on the battlefield but I can bring him down in the bedroom but he did find a willing accomplice in Samson because he kept walking into trap after trap. You know, the tip offer Samson should have been that Delilah worked at Supercuts, right?

I mean, come on. And you have to give Delilah credit. She was up front with her intentions. Look at verse six. She says, please tell me your great strength lies so I may afflict you.

Single people. If you go out on a date with someone and they see something like that, don't go out with that person again. In fact, terminate the date immediately. She's direct but he found this amusing. You afflict me? I kill Philistines for entertainment and you, this delicate little dish named Delilah, you're going to afflict me? Oh, that's absurd and that brings us to a very important point, a great theological insight. Are you ready for it?

Here it is. Sin makes you stupid. That's true. Sin makes you stupid. Just like when you drink alcohol. You know you have a drink, you have another drink, you start saying crazy stuff, maybe you start doing weird things, you're under the influence of alcohol. You see, and the way people drive, they get DUIs not because they speed, sometimes because they drive too slow or they just stop or they do things that draw the attention of the CHP or other police officers and so forth.

They're pulled over. You're under the influence, they say, and sin brings you under its influence and you start saying and doing crazy stuff and that's what was happening to Samson. He wasn't thinking clearly. He thought he could handle it.

We've all heard the rationalization. Someone says, hey, we'll go just so far and we'll stop, I promise. Famous last words. Hey, I'll return it and I'm only borrowing it. Just this one time, we'll never do it again. The Bible asks the question, can a man take fire in his lap and not be burned? You say, I don't know the answer. Okay, go set fire to your lap later and tell me how that works out.

Yeah, no, if you have fire in your lap, you will be burned. Good words of warning today on a new beginning from Pastor Greg Laurie's message called Wasted Potential of a World Changer. And there's more to come as this study continues, including a closing comment just before we wrap up for the day. If you'd like an instant replay of today's study, just go to harvest.org.

Again, just look for the title, Wasted Potential of a World Changer. Or for a CD copy, you can call us any time 24 hours a day at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. And then we're so happy to make available a new resource from Sally Lloyd-Jones called The Jesus Storybook Bible, A Christmas Collection. And you know, Pastor Greg, I'm looking at Sally's thoughts for each day of Advent, and on December 4th, I see the title for that day is A New Beginning.

Where have I heard that before? I don't know. It sounds like it could be the name of a radio show.

I have a good program, as far as I can tell. Yeah. Don't you think that's a little self-serving to make that statement, since you're the host of A New Beginning? Well, we're glad that Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and this new wonderful resource we're offering called The Jesus Storybook Bible Christmas Collection is with us in studio. So Sally, in this time of year when everything's changed because of the coronavirus, I think it's more important than ever to return to the real essential message of Christmas, which there's many things we could say, but a very important part of that message is that we're not alone in this world and that God is with us.

You should call his name Emmanuel, which means God is with us. How could this resource, how could this book, reading this to our children, help them to understand that maybe in a new way or maybe in a way they've never understood before? Well, I think tracing God's beautiful, redemptive rescue plan from the very beginning, which is what you basically do throughout Advent, starting with creation, the fall, all the way through to the rescue of being born, I think it will help them. My prayer is that it will help them know in this time when they feel alone and who knows how children are really processing this?

Children tend to think it's their fault, everything. So who knows on what level, but the Lord knows and he can speak to them. So my prayer is we provide the resources. We tell them the story and that God would use whatever he can to reach their little hearts to let them know he visited this planet for them. He says he's so delighted in them that he would move heaven and earth just to be near them. I think if they know that, that God loves them that much, that he would do everything to be close to them, I think it will give them strength and a rock to get through this time. Absolutely. So if you want to have a copy of this to read to your children, to your grandchildren, and bring them that assurance and comfort in this Christmas season, then order your copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible, a Christmas collection of stories, songs, and reflections for the Advent season written by our guest Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago, narrated by the outstanding actor David Suchet. You're gonna love this.

Yeah, that's right. And we'll be happy to send this your way to thank you for your investment in making these daily studies possible. It's such an important time to bring God's Word into the homes and hearts of listeners all across the country and even around the world. And your investment helps us do that. One listener commented, I turned on your message to calm my anxiety this week. Thank you for your godly wisdom and for focusing my life back on the prize of God. You have calmed the anxiety in my soul.

Well, thanks for helping us bring the peace that passes understanding in these difficult times. And when you send your investment today, we'll be glad to thank you with the Jesus Storybook Bible, a Christmas collection upon request. Just write a new beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24-7. Again, dial 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, more from this study of Samson from Pastor Greg's series called World Changers. But before we go, Pastor Greg has a final comment about the danger of sin. As Proverbs says, can a man take fire in his lap and not be burned? When I was a kid, I was fascinated by fire, and I did stupid things. I used to take my mom's hair spray, and I would light a lighter, and I would spray it, and it would be like a blowtorch.

Could anything be dumber than this? I'd see like a spider in the corner. Loved it. So little pyromaniac in the making. So I loved to set fire to my army men. I had these little green army men.

They're all in fixed positions. One guy's holding a pistol, another guy's holding a rifle, and another guy's crouched down with a bazooka. So I liked the guys who were aiming the rifle because I would light the end of it, and it would light it, and it would kind of start working up the guy, and he'd start melting like this and melting, melting, melting, melting, and then he'd be a little green puddle. So one time I was lighting my army men on fire on top of a piece of newspaper, and you know what happened. It caught fire. Now, what do I do? So I grabbed this paper on fire with plastic green army men burning and threw it into a wastebasket that was made out of like bamboo. You know, fortunately I was able to get the fire up, but that's how sin works, right?

Start small, gets out of control. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-28 15:54:02 / 2024-01-28 16:05:44 / 12

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