May 1

Judges 13:1-14:20

Once again, Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, He therefore delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

Enter in an Angel of the LORD which Judges 13:22 reveals to us is God Himself, veiled in human flesh. Most teachers believe it was Jesus, who was giving us a glimpse of how one day He would dwell among us (John 1:14). 

The LORD reveals that deliverance for Israel was on its way, in the form of a baby, and this child was not to drink wine, eat anything unclean, or cut his hair…he would be a Nazirite to God from the womb (see Numbers 6).

We then read some significantly prophetic words in:

Judges 13:5b (NKJV) “…he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

We will see that Samson had so much potential, he could have delivered Israel completely out of the hand of the Philistines, but because of his sin, he would only begin.

The LORD had appeared to the wife of Manoah who relays the news to her husband. Manoah then prayed:

Judges 13:8 (NKJV) “Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, ‘O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.’”

Isn’t that a beautiful prayer from Manoah? That God would teach us as parents? That He would give us instructions for our children?

The LORD heard Manoah’s prayer, and did indeed come again, but the instructions were the same, to set their child apart with the Nazirite vow.

Manoah did not know it was an Angel of the LORD, he may have thought it was a mere angel, but he soon found out this was God Himself. Manoah was then convinced he was going to die for seeing God’s face. His wife comforted him with words of reason (Judges 13:23).

Isn’t it interesting when asked His name, the Angel of the LORD, simply referred to Himself as “Wonderful?” Perhaps a glimpse of:

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV) “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Eventually the child was born and they named him Samson. There was a special anointing of the Holy Spirit upon his life (Judges 13:25).

Fast forward many years, and for whatever reason, this child with such a special birth and calling, is carnal. Most men struggle with women but it was Samson’s self-induced kryptonite. He went down (that’s significant). Down to Timnah and fell in love (lust really) with a Philistine woman; he asked his parents to get her as wife.

We get a glimpse of what may have been behind the problem – his parents give in to his sinful request. They hem and haw in the beginning, but they eventually cave and go against God’s Word (Deuteronomy 7:3).

When the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Samson, he is able to tear a lion apart with his bare hands. This lion was symbolic of Satan (1 Peter 5:8). But Samson violates his Nazirite vow by touching the dead corpse. This leads to more sin, an ugodly engagement, a lack of wisdom, gambling, danger, and eventually being worn down and defeated by a woman.

Samson abused his gift, using it to kill thirty men for their clothing, and his “wife” was given to his best man.

Now, having read all that (and more) we wonder about Judges 14:4, how can this in any way be, “Of the LORD”? The truth is, God doesn’t author sin, but He allows it. God knew exactly what Samson would do and wanted to begin to stir things up against the Philistines. God would use Samson to flex His muscles and give the children of Israel some hope and breathing room. It’s just too bad that Samson wasn’t surrendered to his Lord who had given him so much strength. Samson would only start, he would only begin – but not finish this deliverance. Many lessons for us to ponder.

John 1:29-51

The mission of John the Baptist was to point people to the Messiah. When John began his ministry, he didn’t know who the Messiah was, but God had revealed to Him that it would be the one upon whom he would see the Spirit descending and remaining. This may have been what John saw at Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:10). 

John the Baptist had much to say about the Messiah; that He was the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. That He was preferred before John, He was before John. He was not only anointed by the Spirit of God, He Himself was also the Son of God.

Apparently John the Baptist would point to Jesus day after day (a good practice). One day two disciples hear John’s words and follow Jesus. One of those disciples was Andrew who shared the news with His brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah…and he brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:41-42)

When was the last time we brought someone to Jesus?

The next day Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Philip eventually finds Nathanael and shares the fact that they they’d found the Christ – Jesus of Nazareth, from Galilee. Their next exchange is classic:

John 1:46 (NKJV) “And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”

If anyone wonders about Jesus, all they have to do is come and see for themselves. Sure enough, Philip saw, Jesus is good, He’s God, the Son of God, and King of kings.

Here we witness how Jesus begins to gather His men through whom He would reach the world. He doesn’t go to the Temple to pick any priests, or find any Pharisees, or well-trained Rabbi’s. No, He begins to find and form fishermen – for the new wine must have new wineskins (Mark 2:22), simple men who would be open and teachable, men like Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael.

This teaches us that there’s hope for anyone, that God can use any of our lives; He takes the ordinary and make us extraordinary.

As we begin the Gospel of John I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 102:1-28

This Psalm is unique in the way it opens up, explaining the fact that this is, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when He is overwhelmed and pours out His complaint before the LORD.”

Have you ever been there? Afflicted? Overwhelmed? Cries of complaint? If not, you will be one day, and this is a good Psalm to ponder and pray.

The Psalmist is suffering physically and spiritually,  he’s lost his appetite and has shed many tears, weeping. But he’s asking God to now hear his prayers, to answer speedily…he’s hoping that the time has come for God’s favor (Psalm 102:13).

It’s time to build up Zion (Jerusalem) that the nations would see – that the things that would now take place would bless and impact future generations who have not yet been born; that they would praise the LORD (Psalm 102:18).

The Psalmist is praying for the children of Israel to be set free, that God would hear the groaning of the prisoner, destined to die…and have mercy (Psalm 102:20).

God is able to spare our lives, and to lengthen our days, we can look to the One who is all powerful and immutable.

Change is inevitable in this world that we live in – we change, our circumstances change, our world changes, but HE never changes. He is God who laid the foundation and will complete what He’s started, in Israel, in us, in our church, and especially in our families.

To me (as the Psalm ends with our children) I sense this was the Psalmist’s heart all along – for the future of our families.

Psalm 102:28 (NKJV) “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.”

Amen and Amen.

Proverbs 14:15-16

V. 15 – To believe every word of God is faith. To believe every word of man is foolish, it’s beyond credulity, it’s insanity. There is so much fake news nowadays; twisted headlines. Remember, just because you’ve heard it through the grapevine or read it online – doesn’t make it true.

The prudent considers well his steps, he sifts through the words he hears which lead to the thoughts he thinks, and eventually the steps he takes.

We need to be Bereans in everything (Acts 17:11).

The Message, “The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.”

V. 16 – The wise is cautious and carefully avoids danger and evil, but the fool is a hothead, oblivious, headstrong, reckless, self-and-over confident.

There is a good and healthy fear – the fear of God, the fear of sin, which grieves the God who loves us.

Charles Bridges wrote, “The fool…stout and stubborn in his mind, never fears until he falls.”

He rages and is self-confident – reminds me of Samson.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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