Devotions

Author Archives: Chuck Lindsey

Samson

Lesson Six | Devotion #4: Samson
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Separated, Strong, and Stupid.

My great-grandmother lived in a double wide mobile home at the edge of a mobile home park in southern California just a few miles from where I was born and raised. She loved Jesus. She loved my sister and me and she wanted us to love Jesus. We loved to spend the night at her house because there were always donuts and she would read us stories from the Bible. I can still see my sister and I sitting on the floor at her feet as she opened the large print KJV Bible and began to read. We would each choose a story for her to read. Mine was always the story of Samson.

I loved that Samson was strong. I was mesmerized as she read aloud the incredible things that Samson did. He tore a lion in half with his bare hands! He killed a thousand enemies with the jaw bone of a donkey. He picked up the massive gates of a city and carried them in each arm nearly 20 miles! Even at the end of his story, he pushed the pillars of a building apart and brought the entire thing down killing all the leaders of the Philistines. In my six-year-old mind, he was the biblical version of the Incredible Hulk!

As an adult, however, I am less impressed with Samson. I pity him. As a pastor, I have met many people like him. For Samson is an example of someone whose gifting took him further than his character could sustain. His incredible gifting gave him incredible opportunity, but his lack of godly character caused him to squander all that God gave him. He lived a thoroughly sinful and selfish life. He was gifted, but he was no great man.

His story reads like some best-selling novel. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents at his birth. He was called by God to be a judge in Israel. However, trouble soon arises. From marrying the Philistine (an enemy of Israel) woman, to the touching of dead things (and thus ceremonially defiling himself and his parents), to the blatant disregard of the laws of God to which he was supposed to be calling the people of God, he was a mess! On one such occasion after losing a bet, he killed 30 men to pay his debt! Then, in anger and retaliation, we see him burning down the wheat fields (food source) of the Philistines, who then come after him and in turn, he kills a thousand of them with the jawbone of a donkey! We see him sleep with a prostitute and then eventually “shack up” with the infamous Delilah. This woman would eventually be his demise. Oh, and as a side note, he is beyond arrogant, he does not talk to God, and he does not appear to have any actual relationship with God at all.

The end of Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 16 where we read of Delilah “pestering and nagging” Samson relentlessly. She is using her beauty to try to trick him into revealing the “source” of his strength. This was a secret he had kept from everyone. Make no mistake; this is not a love story. It is a lust story. She uses Samson’s desire to please himself as the way to eventually ruin him. As you read it, you might think that Samson was just too stupid to realize what is going on, but I doubt that is the case. He is stupid, but not because he did not understand what was happening. He knew what she was doing. He just did not think he was ever in any danger at all. He thought he could handle whatever came his way! He believed he was strong! Each time he answered her, his answer got a little closer to the truth. Until finally, when he could not endure her nagging any longer, Samson gave in and told her that the source of his great strength was his long hair, a symbol of his being dedicated to God.

What happens next is perhaps the saddest verse found in the Scriptures. Judges 16:20 says, “So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know the Lord had left him.” There it is. God left him, and he did not even know it! It is sad. Samson’s great mistake was that he thought his gifting was his. He thought that it belonged to him and that he could use it how he wanted. But it was given to him for the glory of God. The same thing is true of you and I. We have each been gifted and called by God. Those gifts have been given to us to bring God glory and to accomplish God’s purposes.

Samson’s story is tragically sad. It is the story of someone who is incredibly gifted, who is even called, but who throws it all away to please himself. May it never be true of us.

Balaam

Lesson Five | Devotion #5: Balaam
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Diviner, Deceiver, Destroyer.

Everything could have been different for Balaam. He is regarded as one of the six Gentile (non-Israelite) “prophets” in the Old Testament scriptures. He is regarded as such because he speaks to God, God speaks to him, and he tells others what God said. This is the ministry of a prophet. However, while many regard him as a prophet, God never does. That is right; God never refers to Balaam as a prophet. Instead, Balaam is called a magician, a soothsayer, and a diviner. God says all of these are an abomination to Him.

What we need to learn in the story of Balaam is simple. Ready? He could have been a prophet of God. He could have. He was gifted and probably called by God for His purposes. God’s summary of him is that he is nothing more than a “soothsayer,” not a “prophet of the Most High God.” Balaam’s story is one of tragic waste. Without question, Balaam, like Samson, wasted what God gave to him.

In truth, he traded it. Like so many in our world today (especially in the area of entertainment), Balaam used his gifting for himself and traded everything for wealth. The Bible says that he “loved” money. Money is what drove him. Money is why he did what he did. The New Testament warns us of the danger of loving money. 1 Tim 6:10 (NKJV) says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” He is the proverbial example of someone trying to “gain the whole world while losing his soul.”

What is incredible to me about Balaam’s story is that the Lord still uses him. Though he is a disaster spiritually, called a soothsayer, a diviner and even called a “madman” (2 Peter 2:15-16), incredibly God still uses him to bless the people He loves! But hear this, God uses him in spite of him. What do I mean? God used Balaam’s gifting and calling to bless the people of Israel, even though God was not happy with Balaam. God says that Balaam’s “way is perverse before Me” (Numbers 22:32 NKJV).

There is an important lesson here. God using a person does not mean that God automatically approves of everything going on in their lives. I have seen many gifted and called people, who are wrapped up in sin in their own lives, make the mistake of thinking that because God used them to reach someone or help someone that He is approving of or ignoring the sin in their own lives. This is not the truth! If this describes you, let Balaam’s story set you straight!

Though God used Balaam to bless the people of Israel, Balaam’s life comes to a horrific end. Joshua 13:22 (NKJV) says, “The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.” He was put to death, but not before his sinfulness could infect others. You see, the book of Revelation tells us that Balaam figured out a way to make his money. He taught the wicked king, Balak, how to defeat the Hebrew people. He showed that king how to entice the Hebrew people into idol worship and sexual immorality, which led to the judgment of God against them.

Balaam now lives in infamy within the scriptures, as an abominable diviner, who, for money, used what he had been given to stumble others. His example is a warning to us, to never assume that God’s blessing is God’s approval. May we with David say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV).

Adam

Lesson One | Devotion #1: Adam
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Adam. The original. The prototype. The first of us.

Think about it. God, who created all things with a just a word, took ordinary dirt and ‘formed’ it into a man. But it is what happened next that brought man into his existence. The Bible tells us that God, Himself, leaned down (if you will) and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. And we read the words, “And man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 NKJV). Adam would have been little more than a sculpture if God had not breathed into him His own life. The life of God made him alive. So we read that through each day of creation God looked at what He had done and said it was “good.” When Adam came to life, God said, “It was VERY good” (Genesis 1:31 NKJV).

God enjoyed Adam. He really did. It is so clear that Adam was not just made to take up space or even just as some crowning achievement in the creation of God. He was so much more. Adam was created ‘for’ God. It was ‘for’ a relationship with Him and the Lord loved him. Love is an incredible thing. Genuine love always seeks to express itself. When we love someone, we want to say it, and we want to show it. We want the person we love to know it. We look for ways to express our love. That is what God did. The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Therefore, He created man as an object of His great love. This is why the Lord planted a garden for them. It is why He lived with them and walked with them. It was untold joy, an unimaginable blessing. It was very good as God and man lived in a perfect relationship.

But then they fell.

We often think that the fall of man happened right after the creation of the man and woman, but we are not told when this happened. It may have been hundreds, even thousands of years before the fall of man took place. How long did the man and woman enjoy the unbroken love and fellowship of God? One day we will know. However, everything changed in a series of choices. They were choices that caused the heart of man to wander from the source of their love and life.

How it must have broken God’s heart when Adam died. Oh yes, God knew the plan. He had always known the plan. The plan is to rescue us all. Out of death would come life; out of darkness would come light. But it would not happen before ages of brokenness and death! He certainly knew. I cannot imagine how it must have broken His heart, to hear the serpent’s words to Eve, to watch as she ate and then gave some to Adam. Do you not think the Lord saw or heard these things? He saw it all. He heard it all. He saw and heard every detail. He looked on with the deep pain that broken relationships bring as the love of His heart chose themselves instead of Him. Eve, though not innocent, we are told, was deceived by the serpent. Adam, however, knew. Adam made a choice. In just a few moments, just a few choices, Adam and Eve lost everything. Such is the nature of sin. We never truly know all we are losing when we choose ourselves over God.

Enter the mercy of God! For God did have a plan. It is a plan to rescue us all. It is a plan to give (as a gift) back to us what we gave away there in the garden. It is a plan to restore the beauty and blessing of the relationship between us. He wants to give us His life again. But it would come through yet another heart rending death. This time, the death of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus. Through His death, life came to us. As His blood flowed, so flowed the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. “By His stripes, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV).

And whereas one act, by one man, threw us all into sin and death, one act, by the One Man, saved our lives. One act, by the spotless, sinless Lamb of God rescued every person who will flee to Him for rescue. Truly the Gospel is the restoration of all that man was created for, life with Him forever!



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