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Suddenly

John 20:19-20

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!

Suddenly

Samson: A Nazirite, Dedicated to God from the Womb

Judges 13:5

5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

It is sad to be remembered for what one might have been. Samson had tremendous potential. Not many people have started life with credentials like his. Born as a result of God’s plan in the lives of Manoah and his wife, Samson was to do a great work for God—to “take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” To help him accomplish God’s plan, he was given enormous physical strength.

Because Samson wasted his strength on practical jokes and getting out of scrapes, and because he eventually gave it up altogether to satisfy the woman he loved, we tend to see him as a failure. We remember him as the judge in Israel who spent his last days grinding grain in an enemy prison, and we say, “What wasted potential!”

Yes, Samson wasted his life. He could have strengthened his nation. He could have returned his people to the worship of God. He could have wiped out the Philistines. But even though he did none of those things, Samson still accomplished the purpose announced by the angel who visited his parents before his birth. He took the lead in rescuing Israel from the Philistines.

Interestingly, the New Testament does not mention Samson’s failures or his heroic feats of strength. In Hebrews 11:33, he is simply listed with others “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised,” and in other ways were given superhuman aid. In the end, Samson recognized his dependence on God. When he died, God turned his failures and defeats into victory. Samson’s story teaches us that it is never too late to start over. However badly we may have failed in the past, today is not too late for us to put our complete trust in God.

Strengths and accomplishments:

  • Dedicated to God from birth as a Nazirite
  • Known for his feats of strength
  • Listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11
  • Began to free Israel from Philistine oppression

Weaknesses and mistakes:

  • Violated his vow and God’s laws on many occasions
  • Was controlled by sensuality
  • Confided in the wrong people
  • Used his gifts and abilities unwisely

Lessons from his life:

  • Great strength in one area of life does not make up for great weaknesses in other areas
  • God’s presence does not overwhelm a person’s will
  • God can use a person of faith in spite of his or her mistakes

Vital statistics:

  • Where: Zorah, Timnah, Ashkelon, Gaza, Valley of Sorek
  • Occupation: Judge
  • Relative: Father: Manoah
  • Contemporaries: Delilah, Samuel (who might have been born while Samson was a judge)

His story is told in Judges 13—16. He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:32.

Fig 1. Life Application Study Bible. Zondervan, 2011. p. 365.

What Is Passover?

Passover is the oldest and most important religious festival in Judaism, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and His creation of the Israelite people.

The festival of Passover begins at sunset on the 14th of Nisan (usually in March or April) and marks the beginning of a seven-day celebration which includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The highlight of Passover is a communal meal, called the Seder (which means “order,” because of the fixed order of service), which is a time to rejoice and celebrate the deliverance for the Hebrews that God accomplished through the exodus. The first passover occured after the plagues were brought upon Egypt during the enslaved of the Israelites.

Checklist for Encouragers

1 Thessalonians 5:11-23

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Checklist for Encouragers

The command to “encourage” others is found throughout the Bible. In 5:11-23, Paul gives many specific examples of how we can encourage others.

Reference
Example
Suggested Application

5:11
Build each other up.
Point out to someone a quality you appreciate in him or her.

5:12
Respect leaders.
Look for ways to cooperate.

5:13
Hold leaders in highest regard.
Hold back your next critical comments about those in positions of responsibility. Say “thank you” to your leaders for their efforts.

5:13
Live in peace.
Search for ways to get along with others.

5:14
Warn the idle.
Challenge someone to join you in a project.

5:14
Encourage the disheartened.
Encourage those who are disheartened by reminding them of God’s promises.

5:14
Help the weak.
Support those who are weak by loving them and praying for them.

5:14
Be patient.
Think of a situation that tries your patience, and plan ahead of time how you can stay calm.

5:15
Resist revenge.
Instead of planning to get even with those who mistreat you, do good to them.

5:16
Be joyful.
Remember that even in the midst of turmoil, God is in control.

5:17
Pray continually.
God is always with you—talk to him.

5:18
Give thanks.
Make a list of all the gifts God has given you, giving thanks to God for each one.

5:19
Do not quench the Spirit.
Cooperate with the Spirit the next time he prompts you to participate in a Christian meeting.

5:20
Do not treat prophecies with contempt.
Receive God’s word from those who speak for him.

5:22
Reject every kind of evil.
Avoid situations where you will be drawn into temptation.

5:23
Count on God’s constant help.
Realize that the Christian life is to be lived not in our own strength but through God’s power.

Fig 1. Life Application Study Bible. Zondervan, 2011. p. 2019.