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Friday, April 16, 2021

Five Reasons to Pray in Tongues Pt. 2 and Don't be like Samson


Don't be like Samson

  • Author Steve Bremner

I'd like to focus on the anointing, and talk about doing things in ministry with or without God's presence. It's very easy to do things without His presence and be content and satisfied that it was a "success"-even though the Lord might not have been with it.

I noticed something in reading Judges recently about Samson's life. I don't know if this contradicts what others teach or believe, but for now, it doesn't seem to me that the anointing necessarily has a feeling to it. (Continued below......)

(....Continued.......) When Delilah saw that he [Samson] had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, "Come up again, for he has told me all his heart." Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.

She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And he awoke from his sleep and said, "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. (Judges 16:18-20)

If you are reading through the chapters in Judges on Samson's life, it will strike you that he didn't know the Lord had left him. I'm not going to use this text to build or dismantle when the presence of the Lord is or isn't upon us in greater measure than normal, but I'd still like to make some points. I'll concede, this is in the Old Testament and that we each have the Holy Spirit as believers now under the new covenant. But some applications can still be drawn for practical purposes.

What is so significant about this passage?

One thing at the very least: if Samson couldn't tell it [the presence of the Lord, or 'the anointing' or whatever term you'd like] was missing, then he probably couldn't tell when it was present either.

Other verses in the book of Judges describe instances where the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson in some kind of force to get something accomplished that he couldn't have done in his own strength, such as described in 14:6, 14:19, 15:14. Obviously we know that the power in his strength did not lie in the fact no razor had touched his head, but in the obedience of doing what he was instructed to do by the Lord, which was to not cut his hair or shave his head, and drink no strong drink, etc...because he was consecrated to the Lord.

The reason this caught my attention, is because we all know about Samson's lust. We all know that despite sleeping with a prostitute, and despite the multiple marriages--or marriage attempts anyway--God still used him in a mighty way. My point in drawing your attention to Judges 16 is not to say that you can keep sinning (or lying to your wife!) and still be anointed. Every time his wife asked him the secret to his strength, he lied to her and the power of God was still on him to break free from the ropes each time. This passage probably messes with popular charismatic theology. Does it bother any of you that God still used Samson in power despite his obvious sinning? I submit to you for consideration that the anointing of God is more mechanical than it is relational. Give it a thought before rebuking me.

In fact, I didn't even want to write some ideas on this and take the predictable route when looking at Samson's life, so how about this: does it bother you that people can do things for the Lord, and it seems as though they still live in sin? I hope you're not reading this to say that I'm advocating that we can live in sin and still operate in the anointing. You don't need to live a holy life to be used by God--because you and I are expendable to the Lord's purposes--He can, does and will work despite us--not because He needs us. BUT you need to live holy to be a Christian--no ifs, ands or butts about that.

The Lord will deal with us on that level if we think we can get away with small or large sins without fully leaving them at the cross of Jesus. But my point is this: don't wait until you think you are perfect before finally stepping out and doing things for the Lord or you'll never do it--we are all a work in progress, some more than others. Until the we are taken home, we are still made out of flesh. Samson was a man consumed with lust and possibly had a bad temper if you will, and still did great exploits for the Lord. I've heard Curry Blake say that the reason God uses us, even though some of us may be in sin, is because we are expendable, and God cares more about the people He's ministering healing to than he does us. Paul understood this too, and feared being disqualified in the end after running the race (1 Cor 9:27). This also seems to contradict the whole "the Lord will sacrifice the work to save the worker" sacred cow. Jesus even dealt with this in the sermon on the mount which I will lightly touch in a moment.

Anyway, shifting gears a little bit:

I've noticed recently, that I've been coasting; that I've been relying on the arm of my flesh sometimes and confidence in what I know the Word says, instead of my confidence IN the Word Himself. In some ways I've been resting on my laurels, which is a dangerous place to find oneself, and in reaction to this I've been spending lots of time alone in my room upstairs (which probably has made Stephen and Francine wonder what I'm up to!) just getting into the Word of God and spending time alone with Him. I have officially decided I don't like being busy doing ministry at the expense of alone time with God. Anything a real minister does for the Lord flows out of intimacy with Him. I desire to have something to flow out of me from Him.

Last week I had a turn to lead the Bible study again. And I was asked to do it on a topic that is very dear to my heart and I could easily handle it in a Bible study setting without preparing notes for it. But I wanted to spend my whole afternoon seeking God's face and praying in tongues and just be locked in my room alone with no distraction. I didn't want to rest on the arm of my flesh. And I honestly couldn't sit down right away and turn on my laptop in preparation for the handout I provided. Alone time with God was more important. I had gotten too busy doing "missionary things" and making sure I had newsletter-worthy stories to write about--but my personal time alone with God had been slack for days--maybe a week. So I prioritized spending time alone with God, just reading the Bible where I'm at in my Old Testament readings.

Anyone who was present at that Bible study knows a lot of the people liked it and God was totally present--but it was Him being there despite me. I got alone with him and THEN prepared for it for Him-not for the other people who would be present expecting a great teaching from me. In fact, I probably whipped together the handout and my notes in a mere 20 minutes before it was time to lead the study! But I would rather that it was that way than making my own plans for the evening, devoid of God's will and plans and not seeking Him and seeing what He wants done, and sat around all afternoon preparing a Bible study but without intimate time with him. Anyone out there who wants to pretend preparing a Bible study is worship or devotion time--don't kid yourself. There's a sermon in that--how much ministry is going on in the Church that men just decided to do, and God was never asked what He thought?

I don't want to be like Samson, and be able to do great exploits for the Lord, when my lifestyle and heart are not right with Him.

I'm reminded of the life of Moses also, and how he split the rock open the second time and the water gushed out, but the Lord was still not pleased with him for it. It is interesting, that the Lord did NOT command Moses that second time, unlike in Exodus 17:5-6 but water still came forth from the rock. Much can be said about the authority of the believer, and the ability to misuse that authority--but the Lord swore to Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land. I know it will sound blasphemous to some, but this incident with Moses and even to some degree Samson demonstrate that the anointing, or just plain power, is more mechanical than it is relational. Moses struck the rock, and still water came out. Did God do it even though Moses was in rebellion? Or did God give Moses (a man) power and he abused it and still produced results?

I know that will mess with a lot of peoples theology.

It is significant that these individuals that Jesus tells he didn't know, were actually doing the miraculous deeds in His name--prophesying, casting out demons and healing the sick all in His name!--and still cast out of His presence in the end! Sobering stuff if you want to believe you can remain in your sin and operate in the anointing. You can technically--for now. But what will the Lord say to you on that day? "Well done my faithful servant" or "flee from me I don't know you"? I'm preaching to myself, not just anyone that reads this. Let's not be like Samson who didn't know when the Lord left him, or Moses who wound up not even entering the promised land, or furthermore let us not be like any to whom Jesus will say "yes, you did do these things for me, but I don't know you."

I hope readers will give this stuff some serious thought and make necessary heart changes in your life before the Lord.

Steve has been a missionary to Europe for over 2 years, and currently lives in Canada while preparing to move to Peru in early 2009. 

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