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Mornings
Gary 6:00-12:00pm

The Word For Today

The differences between Samson and Samuel 4



'Thus far the Lord has helped us.' 1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV

Difference four: accountability. Samson had an independent attitude and refused to be accountable to anyone else. He was a 'lone ranger' who refused to work with others. And his erratic attempts at deliverance caused the Philistines to tax God's people more and make their burdens heavier. Samuel, on the other hand, worked in consensus with others. When he prayed and God gave Israel a spectacular victory over their enemies, he refused to take any of the credit. 'Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpeh and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us"' (1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV).

Samson was 'me' focused, but Samuel was 'us' focused. The psalmist said, 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity...for there the Lord commanded the blessing' (Psalm 133:1-3 NKJV) The secret of walking in God's blessing is not to operate alone, but cooperate with others. That's how the New Testament church did it. 'When they had further threatened them, they let them go... And being let go, they went to their own companions' (Acts 4:21-23 NKJV). When the apostles came under attack, 'they went to their own companions.' They had relationships in place with those who knew how to advise and guide them, strengthen and encourage them, pray and share God's Word with them.

You need such relationships too! And you can't afford to wait until trouble comes before you establish them. Do it now, in the good times, and they'll be there for you in the bad times.

Soulfood: Dan 5-7 Mt 8:28-34 Ps 89:1-14 Pro 2:20,

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The differences between Samson and Samuel 3



'The Lord your God was your king.' 1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV

Difference three: motives. Samson repeatedly dishonoured the Lord by his actions and his lifestyle. That's because he had no regard for God's honour. What a contrast Samuel was! When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, it broke his heart. He said to the people, 'The Lord your God was your king' (1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV). Honouring God was his highest priority. And there's a lesson here for us, especially those in ministry. Every time someone steps behind a pulpit, they must check their ego and ask themselves the motive question: 'Is my aim to make God look good, or myself look good?' And it's a hard question to answer.

The Bible says, 'For the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by him actions are weighed' (1 Samuel 2:3 NKJV). The truth is that without the power of God's indwelling Spirit, none of us has what it takes to do the job, and we must never forget that. The tragedy of Samson's end is described in these two Scriptures: '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 that the Lord had departed from him.' (Judges 16:20 NKJV). 'So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may perform for us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them' (Judges 16:25 NKJV). Note the word perform. Without God's grace and power we are all, at best, just performers.

So stay humble, and seek only to exalt the Lord.

Soulfood: Dan 3-4 Mt 8:18-27 Ps 84 Pro 2:16-19,

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The differences between Samson and Samuel 2



'Get her for me, for she pleases me well.' Judges 14:3 NKJV

Difference two: relationships. 'Then his father and mother said to him, "Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren... that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" And Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well"' (Judges 14:3 NKJV).

When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God's Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Scripture: 'Samson went down...' (Judges 14:1 NKJV) He went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. He went down to Gaza and spent the night with a harlot. He went down to Sorek, ended up in the lap of Delilah, and lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing and his life. Samuel, on the other hand, was raised up to purify the ministry. Eli the high priest had two sons called Hophni and Phinehas whom he had ordained to the priesthood, but they were taking bribes to cover sin and brazenly consorting with prostitutes.

There's a lesson here for every redeemed child of God: 'Do not be yoked together with unbelievers' (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV). Is God being biased or unloving? No, he's being protective! When you're 'yoked together' in a relationship with someone who doesn't share your faith, your values, your goals and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, as they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution - God.

Soulfood: Dan 1-2 Mt 8:10-17 Ps 81 Pro 2:11-15,

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The differences between Samson and Samuel 1



'Time would fail me to tell of...Samson...and Samuel.' Hebrews 11:32 NKJV

Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same Scripture, but there are big differences between them. You ask, 'Why should I be interested?' Because as a Christian, you are like them. Each had a miraculous birth, so they're a picture of those who've been born again and called to serve God. Paul writes, 'These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition... Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall' (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NKJV).

Difference one: finances. Samson was greedy and manipulating, whereas Samuel practised integrity. One day Samson bet thirty Philistine princes that they couldn't solve his riddle, saying, 'If you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing' (Judges 14:13 NKJV). Quite a wardrobe! Samson's emphasis was 'you shall give me.' He's an example of Christians in business who discredit the cause of Christ by unethical practices, and those in ministry who twist the Scriptures and resort to emotional manipulation to raise money. The world is watching, so let's heed the Scripture: '...do what is honourable in the sight of all' (Romans 12:17 ESV). Samuel was totally different. After forty years of his exemplary leadership, the people paid this tribute to him: 'You have not cheated or oppressed us' (1 Samuel 12:4 NIV). When others can say that about you, you did it right! Jesus said, 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Matthew 6:21 NIV).

The condition of your heart is revealed in how you handle finances.

Soulfood: Phil 1-4 Mt 8:1-9 Ps 79 Pro 2:9-10,

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Start a journal of your spiritual journey



'Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar.' Exodus 24:4 NKJV

One of the secrets of Moses' great success in life was this: he spent time each day with God, and he wrote down what God told him. And you should do that too. Here's why. Writing: (a) clarifies your thoughts; (b) gives you a permanent record you can refer back to; (c) allows you to measure your progress. We only remember what we take time to record.

One of the best-known American missionaries was Jim Elliot, who became a martyr for Christ in 1956 in Ecuador. He kept a spiritual journal, and it makes interesting reading: 'My devotional reading pattern was broken. I have never restored it... prayer as a single man was difficult... now it's too hard to get out of bed in the morning... I've made resolutions on this score before now, but not followed them up.' Such writings become a mirror that reflects your true spiritual condition - a condition it's easy to forget unless it's staring you in the face each day. Elliot, like all of us, struggled with the spiritual disciplines. But unlike most of us, he kept a written record of his spiritual defeats as well as his spiritual victories.

Keeping such a journal will force you to reflect on your heart's true condition, record your progress, regain your lost momentum, reject your bad habits, reinforce your good habits, and help you to reach your spiritual goals. Do you know any other discipline that offers such benefits? No? Then start a journal of your spiritual journey today.

Soulfood: Lev 26-27 Mt 7:15-29 Ps 74:12-23 Pro 2:7-8,

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Give God your 'firstfruits'



'Honour the Lord with... the firstfruits of all your increase.' Proverbs 3:9 NKJV

Solomon writes: 'Honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine' (Proverbs 3:9 NKJV). The people who heard these words lived off their land and their livestock. Whenever they reaped a harvest or birthed new cattle, they'd take the first sheaf or the firstborn calf to the temple and offer it to the Lord. These were called 'firstfruits'. By doing this they acknowledged that 'everything I have comes from God, and belongs to God. And everything I'll need for the future depends upon God's goodness to me'.

There's not a more important money management principle you'll ever hear than this: give God your 'firstfruits', not your leftovers! Businessman Arthur DeMoss was a spiritual giant and benefactor who gave millions to God's work and left behind a foundation to carry on his legacy. DeMoss said that to be successful you should give God the first 'dime' out of every dollar, the first hour out of every day, and the first day out of every week.

You ask, 'Does that mean God won't love me if I don't tithe?' No; you can't do anything to earn God's love. However, giving back to him willingly demonstrates our obedience and love for God.

Soulfood: Lev 23:26-25:55 Mt 7:1-14 Ps 74:1-11 Pro 2:6,

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The virtue of diligence



'The hand of the diligent makes rich.' Proverbs 10:4 ESV

The word diligent means 'to cut or sharpen'. It describes a worker who's sharp, decisive and keen. He or she wants to work, make a difference and contribute to their families and to society. Life 'owes' you nothing except an opportunity to succeed. And you'll have to work for that success.

One day two teens were talking when one said to the other, 'I'm really worried. Dad slaves away at his job so I'll never want for anything. He pays all my bills and sends me to college. Mum slaves every day washing, ironing, cleaning up after me, and even takes care of me when I'm sick.' Puzzled, his friend asked, 'So, what're you worried about?' He replied, 'I'm worried the slaves might escape!'

If you're a parent, teach your children the virtue of diligence. And don't just preach it - live it! You'll know you're succeeding when they no longer feel 'entitled' to an allowance, and stop seeing you as a human cashpoint machine with the words 'Free Money!' stamped on your forehead. Your children will spend over half the waking hours of their prime adult lives working, and they need to know that it was God's idea and not a form of punishment. Some people think work was the result of the curse in Eden, but it wasn't. God gave Adam the job of tending the garden before sin came on the scene (see Genesis 2:15). Jesus was a carpenter (see Mark 6:3). And Paul, one of the most influential Christians in history, was a tentmaker (see Acts 18:1-3). There's nothing dishonourable about work worth doing, and work done well.

Soulfood: Ex 20:4-6 Deut 7:17-8:2 Isa 40:18-31 Col 3:5-10,

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God's definition of 'rich'



'The blessing of the Lord - it makes [truly] rich, and he adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].' Proverbs 10:22 AMPC

It's said the famous publisher William Randolph Hearst saw a picture of a beautiful painting and became very interested in acquiring it for his collection. He sent agents all over the world to search for it, but they couldn't find it anywhere. A year later, out of the blue, one of his employees came and told him that the painting had been found. Excited about the discovery, Hearst asked where it had been unearthed. His employee said, 'It was in a crate in your warehouse. You owned it all the time.' The problem was, Hearst had never read the ledger that had the record of everything he owned.

Your Bible is a ledger filled with blessings God wants you to experience. Now, none of these blessings are greater than salvation, but it's not the only blessing. 'The blessing of the Lord - it makes [truly] rich, and he adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it]' (Proverbs 10:22 AMPC). John D. Rockefeller once said he'd exchange his fortune for a chance to go back and work as a clerk in his old office in Cleveland, Ohio. Why? Because stress caused him to suffer bouts of insomnia, ulcers and depression. The blessing of God brings success - without stress! God tells you about it in his Word. He wants you to be 'rich' in your relationships, in your health, in your peace of mind, in your career and in everything that concerns you.

So get to know what God has promised you, then begin praying and believing him for it.

Soulfood: Lev 21:1-23:25 Mt 6:19-34 Ps 71:17-24 Pro 2:3-5,

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Don't label people love them



'We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.' 2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT

If you tend to associate only with 'your own kind', think about this: 'We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view' (2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT). Jesus went out of his way to meet a Samaritan woman at a well. From a cultural and religious point of view, it was a bad move. First, she'd been married five times so she had a tarnished reputation. Second, she was a Gentile. And in those days a Jew couldn't drink water drawn by Gentiles or eat their food. Jewish physicians couldn't attend to non-Jewish patients. Jews actually referred to Gentiles as 'unclean', believing that by mixing with them they too would become unclean.

But Jesus was all about including people, not excluding them: 'The Word became human and made his home among us' (John 1:14 NLT). Jesus touched lepers, loved foreigners, and spent so much time with partygoers that religious leaders called him a 'glutton and a drunk' (Matthew 11:19 GWT). Jesus didn't label people; he loved them. And when you follow him, he puts his finger on your prejudices and makes you deal with them. That's because he wants to change the way you look at people, not seeing them as Jews or Gentiles, insiders or outsiders, liberals or conservatives, etc. 'We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.'

Today you may come across some discarded people like the woman at the well. They may have been thrown out of church, or just turned off by church - and you'll have a chance to label them or love them. Honour God - and love them!

Soulfood: Lev 18-20 Mt 6:9-18 Ps 71:1-16 Pro 2:1-2,

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Stop doing things that don't work



'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.' Colossians 3:16 NKJV

The story's told of a couple who decided to go duck hunting together. They heard that they needed a good duck hunting dog, so they went to a kennel and got one. They heard that they needed a good shotgun, so they went to the store and bought one. Then they went hunting. At the end of the day they hadn't got a single duck. The husband said to his wife, 'Honey, we've got to be doing something wrong here.' His wife replied, 'Well, maybe if we throw the dog up a little higher he could catch a duck this time.' When it comes to the Christian life, we try to accomplish things with tools that don't work or don't make sense. A dog is not the right equipment to get ducks - you need firepower to bring a duck down.

Why did Paul write, 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom' (Colossians 3:16 NKJV)? Because when the word of Christ dwells richly in your heart, you're equipped with God's wisdom. You can't solve a problem by using the very elements that caused it. You need God's wisdom, and it's found in his Word. Less than 30 per cent of Christians read their Bible daily. Think about that: 70 per cent of Christians look for the answer in the wrong places.

When you have a problem, the first thing you should ask is, 'What does God's Word say about this?' 'The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple' (Psalm 119:130 NKJV). Instead of doing things that don't work - turn to God's Word.

Soulfood: Lev 15-17 Mt 6:1-8 Ps 46 Pro 1:32-33,

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