November 10, 2022 3:00 am
An old man who had been walking with the Lord for many years was asked by a newer Christian, “When will I get past temptation? When will I finally reach the point when I’m no longer tempted?” The old man said, “When you’re dead.” Well, maybe we can shoot for being dead to sin. That’s our goal today on A NEW BEGINNING as Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a look at the Bible’s most famous strong man. We’ll see he was strong physically, but he became weak in the face of temptation.
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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.
Sign up at harvest.org. Look around. Unless you're in a sensory deprivation tank, temptation is around you right now. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us cope. We need to flee temptation and not leave a forwarding address. Every temptation is an opportunity to flee to God. So when it's tangled in front of you, and yes, temptations will come to every Christian, better to shun the faith than to struggle on the hook. Don't nibble at the bait.
Shun the bait. An old man who'd been walking with the Lord for many years was asked by a newer Christian, when will I get past temptation? When will I finally reach the point when I'm no longer tempted?
The old man said, when you're dead. Well, maybe we can shoot for being dead to sin. That's our goal today on A New Beginning, as Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a look at the Bible's most famous strong man. We'll see, he was strong physically, but he became weak in the face of temptation.
Here is a story of a guy that had everything. God's hand was on him in an amazing way. He had the potential to be one of the greatest leaders in the history of Israel. He was actually a judge over Israel back in these days.
Israel was ruled by various judges. So let's kind of learn a few things from the life of this incredible character. Point number one, he had a great beginning.
He had a great beginning. He had superhuman qualities. Physically, no one was stronger than Samson. He was kind of like a superhero.
And the thing is he was a real guy. Now of course we always think of Samson and his long hair. And the reason he had the long hair is he had taken the bow of a Nazarite. And part of the bow of a Nazarite was to never cut your hair. The power was not in his hair. Thank God for that.
Otherwise there's no hope for people like me. The power was in his commitment to God that was symbolized by his long hair. That is why his hair mattered. And not once did he feel the agony of defeat.
For 20 years he experienced the thrill of victory. And I think that is where the deadly complacency began to set in because he thought, no one is going to beat me. Well look the devil is evil. The devil is wicked. The devil is perverse.
But I'll tell you something the devil is not. He's not stupid. And he knows how to bring people down. And so he's going to watch you for a while. He's going to observe you. And he's going to try to find your vulnerability.
Your Achilles heel. So Satan watched Samson thought, well I can't beat this guy on the battlefield. Because he picks up a bone on one occasion and kills a thousand Philistines, his enemies. On another occasion he picks up the walls of a city and carries them for a few miles.
Another time he got into a fight with a lion and ripped its jaws apart. So you're not going to beat this guy on the battlefield. So the devil thought, I know how to get this guy. I'll get him in the bedroom.
It will be a sneak attack and he won't know what hit him. So that brings us to Judges chapter 16. I'm going to read verses 4 to 9.
By the way I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Afterward it happened that Samson loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said, entice him and find out where his great strength lies and by what means we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him and every one of us will give you 1100 pieces of silver.
That's a lot of money. So Delilah said to Samson, please tell me where your great strength lies and how you may be bound so I can afflict you. Samson said, if they buy me with seven fresh bow strings not yet dried I'll become weak like any other man. So point number one was you had a great beginning. Point number two is temptation comes in attractive packages. I'm sure that Delilah was a very attractive woman for sure. And temptation if it's going to be tempting needs to be appealing. And so the devil brings along Delilah.
She's an attractive girl and he's looking at her. And for temptation to properly work its magic there must be a desire on our part. Point number three. For temptation to succeed we must be a willing participant. Let me say that again. For temptation to succeed you must be a willing participant because sometimes people will say the devil made me do it.
Really? I don't know about that. I mean the devil may have tempted you. But the Bible says a man is tempted when he's drawn away by his own desires and is enticed. So the tempter needs cooperation with the temptee. That's you. You have to check out what he's offering.
You have to be interested in what he's selling. Point number four. Moral compromise makes us vulnerable. Moral compromise makes us vulnerable. If Samson had not had this sinful relationship with Delilah to begin with he would not have been in this mess. And this is usually how people fall.
They think they can handle it. Judges 16 verse 15. Then Delilah pouted. Uh oh.
Secret weapon. She pouted and she said Samson how can you say you love me when you won't confide in me. You've made fun of me three times now and still haven't told me what makes you so strong. So day after day she nagged him until he couldn't stand it any longer. Finally Samson told her a secret. My hair has never been cut he confessed.
I was dedicated to God as a Nazarite from birth and if my head were shaved my strength would leave me and I would become weak as anyone else. Delilah realized he finally told her the truth. She sent for the Philistine leaders and said come back one more time.
She said he's told me everything. So the Philistine leaders returned and brought the money with them. And Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap. And she called in a man to shave off his hair making his capture certain and his strength left him. Then she cried out Samson the Philistines have come to capture you. And when he woke up he thought I'll do as I have before and shake myself free. Here's a powerful verse.
Don't miss it. But he didn't realize the Lord had left him. He didn't realize the Lord had left him. So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes and took him to Geza where he was bound with bronze chains and made him grind grain in the prison.
Wow. What a sad story. If Samson had been running a race he just fell and he fell hard. Here's one of the saddest statements in the Bible. Verse 20. He didn't realize the Lord had left him.
He not only lost the battle he lost touch with God. And this is so typical of a person that is in a state of spiritual decline. Sometimes they're the last to know. And you might say to the men you know what I don't know but I think you're kind of not doing as well spiritually as you were before. Hey man don't judge me.
You know I don't know. What I'm saying is I'm your friend and I notice I don't see you at church like I used to see you. And I notice that you've kind of gotten a little arrogant or a little hard or a little cynical or whatever it is. And I'm really concerned about hey do you know you don't know what I'm going through.
Yeah but I'm just concerned for you. They don't see it but sometimes other people see it more clearly than they see it. You know. And so he didn't know it.
But he was already in a state of decline going over a period of years at this point. And so that brings me to this point. Sin blinds you. Then it finds you.
Then it grinds you. Look at verse 21. The Philistines captured him. Gouged out his eyes.
Took him to Gaza where he was bound with bronze chains and made to grind grain in the prison. So first sin blinds you. It blinds you. You don't see what is happening to you.
You're irrational. That's why you need Christian friends who will tell you the truth. Because listen sometimes we have blind spots. We think oh no I see.
No maybe you don't see. And someone will say you know what I see this area in your life and you need to be extra careful here. And sometimes that's a very helpful thing and you should thank God by the way if you have friends like that because you can be blinded. I know of men who have had great families loving wives and children who leave them for some stupid fling with another woman.
I also know women who have done the same. Even abandoning their kids in their quest to find themselves. So that's the blinding factor of sin.
You just don't understand. Then sin finds you. First it blinds you. Then it finds you. There's euphoric excitement the first time you cross the line. The first time you do that thing you're not supposed to do. It's kind of well exciting. Exciting. But you're not thinking it through.
You're not thinking about the repercussions of it that are about to come. Then sin grinds you. So first it finds you.
Then it blinds you. Then it grinds you. Now he's grinding at the mill. Now you're reaping the consequences. You know that little drink turned into an alcohol problem. That other thing turned into a drug problem. That other thing turned into another problem. Little things turned into big things.
And you're trying to figure out how did I get in this place. And I'm sure Samson wondered that as his hair was shaved off and his eyes were gouged out. But I love verse 22. And by the way this is the life verse of all bald people.
However the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven. On more than one occasion I've read that verse and I've said, Lord let it be unto me your servant. So what is this verse really saying? It's saying that God gives second chances. Lord could have just said you're done. I'm done with you. You're reaping what you sowed.
But no however the hair of his head began to grow. Listen there's hope even after you fail. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well we're considering the failure of Samson today as Pastor Greg brings a revealing message called the he-man with the she weakness. Let's continue.
You know here's the thing. We're all going to fail. We're all going to stumble. We're all going to make mistakes. Can we learn from our mistakes? The definition of insanity is actually doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When I see people living in a pattern of sin and going right back to the same pattern and returning to it again and then being shocked by the way it turns out I just don't understand. If you can learn from your mistakes or as I like to say if you can learn how to fail forward. Fail forward. What does that mean? It means okay I messed up but next time I'm not going to stumble over that little thing right there because I know that little thing is right there. I'm going to be more guarded.
I'm going to be more careful. So Samson's hair began to grow back and guess what? His strength began to return.
Slowly but surely he's feeling the strength in his body again. So one day the Philistines, his enemies, are getting together worshiping their weird false god called Dagon. Dagon was half fish and half man. He was sort of like a merman. They worshipped a merman. And so they had this big image of Dagon and they said let's have a party and worship the merman. The merman. Yeah.
And they're getting drunk and having a great old time worshipping their false god and someone comes up with a bright idea. Let's get Samson up here. Remember him? Let's bring him up to entertain us.
Yeah let's do that. Meanwhile Samson's hair is growing out. They bring him upstairs to where they're all partying away and they wanted him to entertain him and boy did he.
He brought down the house. Because as he's going up there he finds a young boy and he says son would you. My eyes are gone here.
I can't see at all. Do me a favor. Lead me to the foundational pillars of this temple for merman. And so the little guy leads him over and he puts one hand on one pillar and he puts another hand on the other pillar and he prays for strength and he pushes and the temple begins to collapse and the floors cave in and when it was all said and done he killed more Philistines on that day than throughout his entire life. So he said well all's well that ends well. Yeah but didn't end all that well because he died with them didn't he. It could have been a much better. He could have been a great judge. He could have had a wonderful end.
I mean it could have been worse granted. But the Lord gave him a second chance. And so what do we learn from the story of Samson. Number one it's better to shun the bait than to struggle on the hook. Don't nibble at the bait. Shun the bait.
We need to flee temptation and not leave a forwarding address. Because every temptation is an opportunity to flee to God. So when it's tangled in front of you and yes temptations will come to every Christian. No matter who you are. No matter how long you've known the Lord. And you even think I have victory in this area.
Probably the one area you think you have victory in will be the area you'll be hidden again. So you always keep your guard up. But don't even start nibbling at that bait. And I ask you right now are you flirting with sin? Are you playing with fire?
Watch out. Learn the lesson of Samson. But here's the thing. Some of you are saying well Greg I wish I'd heard this message you know two years ago because I made some really bad decisions and frankly I'm reaping the consequences of it.
Okay maybe you've done that. But God still gives second chances. And listen your story doesn't have to end the way you may think it's going to end. Jesus can break the cycle of sin and turn your mess into a message. If you'll just say honestly Lord I've messed up. I've blown it. I've crossed the line. I've sinned against you. I am so sorry. God will you give me another chance.
Give me another chance. I think of parents that did a bad job parenting and they weren't there for their kids. Maybe the guy walked out on the wife. Maybe the wife walked out on the husband.
I don't know. But the kids didn't have their parents. And then they've been such a bad parent they just kind of let the cycle continue and they don't remember birthdays and they don't show up for games that the kids are playing and they just blow it. And now they've done it so long they're embarrassed to show up because they've blown it for so long and they just say I can't fix it.
No you can't but why don't you just start right now and just change your behavior. And why don't you just go and say to your child I'm really sorry will you give me a second chance. Sometimes I've seen this happen with grandkids.
That bad parents sometimes turn out to be pretty good grandparents because they get another shot at it. And you know but you have to own it. You have to confess it.
You need to humble yourself. But there's things we can do that will change the cycle. I think the problem is we just keep walking in that same cycle of sin and doing it over and over. Well it's too late. I've gone too far down the road. It's never too late.
As long as you are drawing a breath in your lungs you can repent and ask God to turn it around. And some of you may need to do that today. And some of you might be a little earlier in the game. You're not quite there yet but you're kind of playing with it. You're kind of toying with it.
You're kind of getting too close to it. So let this be a warning. Back away and keep your distance from these evil things that can pull you down. And stay as strong as you can spiritually. But listen there might be somebody here that just needs a second chance in life.
And God gives second chances. And there might be somebody here that has never even put their faith in Jesus Christ yet. You don't even know what it is to have this relationship with God.
You know you came in here tonight. We're worshiping and you're thinking I kind of like this but I actually don't really know what's going on right now. But it's amazing. Well what this is is love for God that's being expressed. You've entered into a family gathering of Christians. And maybe it's making you aware that you're not in the family. And we don't want you to feel left out and unloved. We want you to join the family. You say well I wasn't raised in a Christian home.
Who cares. It says nothing about what home you were born into. You're born again into the kingdom of God. That's how you join this family. Jesus said you must be born again.
So you must say Lord I know I'm a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I choose to believe in you. On our radio show we unearthed an old audio cassette. Have you ever heard of a cassette before? That's before we scream things. An old audio cassette of me giving my testimony when I was 24 years old. My voice was very high.
I spoke very fast. I used strange late 60s early 70s lingo. But it was interesting for me to listen to a 24 year old version of me telling my story. Actually in telling the story I was reminded of some things I'd frankly forgotten about.
But I just was telling my own story as you've heard me tell before. But it was on my high school campus seeing Christians worship that got my attention because I saw they had something that I did not have and I wanted that something. Because I never had a family growing up. You know my mom was gone all the time.
I never really had a dad. But I saw a family called the church and I wanted to get in that family. And I joined that family in 1970 and I have never for one moment regretted that decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Not once. And you can join the family. You can become a child of God. A son of God.
A daughter of God by believing in Jesus. You say what does that even mean? It means you have to admit you're a sinner.
Which isn't easy. To admit that we've fallen short of God's glory. We've broken His commandments. You need to realize Jesus died on the cross for your sin. And He rose again from the dead. And now that He stands at the door of your life and He knocks and says if you'll hear His voice and open the door He'll come in. So you have to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sin.
And if you haven't done that yet you can do it right now. In a moment we're going to close with a prayer. And I'm going to extend an invitation for you to ask Christ to come into your life and join the family of God and have a fresh start. And I'm also going to extend an invitation for some of you that need a second chance in life. You're a Christian. You know what's right.
But you've messed up. And you need to get right with God. So you respond as you need to respond now as we pray together.
Let's all bow our heads. Father thank you for loving us so much. You sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sin. Lord Jesus thank you for coming and laying your life down. And now I pray for every person here and those listening.
If they don't know you Lord help them to come to you and believe in you right here right now. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. So please stay with us. Well Pastor Greg we're excited about the new film on the life of Johnny Cash.
Yes. What do you think will surprise people the most when they see Johnny Cash the redemption of an American icon? I think they'll be surprised by the amazing quality of it. I think they'll be surprised by the people that we interviewed that talked about the faith of Johnny Cash like Winona Judd, Marty Stewart, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow and others. I think they'll be surprised at how badly Johnny fell but I think they'll also be surprised by that strong faith that sustained him through life.
The faith that he returned to toward the end of his life. I think they'll not only be surprised I think they'll be inspired because this is a powerful film. It's like a modern retelling of the story of the prodigal son. I think one other surprise they'll find is that the gospel is presented in this film as well because it's a gospel that changed Johnny's life.
He believed it even though he strayed from it at times. So this is a powerful film. I don't think you've ever seen a film quite like this.
The closest thing we've done would be Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American icon but this goes to the next level and beyond. So we want you to see this brand new film that's coming to a theater near you as a fathom event. So here's Dave to tell you more about how you can get tickets to see this brand new documentary film done by the Irwin brothers best known for their films American Underdog, I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe and the soon to be released Jesus Revolution. Dave tell them how they can get their tickets. Yeah it's real easy just go to harvest.org you'll find more details there and you can even arrange your tickets while you're online.
And by the way tickets are limited and they're going fast. We're making them available to say thank you to those who stand with us and support our outreach with a generous donation. Our outreach not only here on A New Beginning but through our evangelistic events and through this evangelistic film Johnny Cash The Redemption of an American Icon. What are the dates of this fathom event? You'll find them listed on our website at harvest.org. It's coming up soon so get in touch right away.
Go to harvest.org or call us anytime 24 7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Well Pastor Greg you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord. Someone can enter into that kind of a relationship with God right now can't they? Yeah they really can that's the amazing thing. I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take weeks. It doesn't take days.
It doesn't even take hours. You can believe on the spot and I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for his forgiveness. A prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. So if you want Christ to come into your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin if you want a second chance in life if you want to go to heaven when you die stop what you're doing and pray after me. These words, Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward from this moment forward as Savior and Lord as God and friend thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Amen. And if you have just prayed those words with Pastor Greg and meant them sincerely the Bible assures us your sins have been forgiven. We're told the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanses from all unrighteousness and we want to send some resource materials your way that'll help you in your new relationship with the Lord. We call it our New Believers Growth Packet and we'll send it without charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg. Just ask for it when you call 1-800-821-3300.
Call anytime 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time Pastor Greg launches a new series on some of the most important words Jesus ever spoke. We'll uncover the practical application of the Sermon on the Mount. Join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at harvest.org.
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