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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Follow a Godly Example (Judges 13:2-25)

16 Apr

Intro:

Everybody's distracted nowadays

If the people closest to you were to turn out just like you, what would they be like?

  • One of the most disturbing songs that I think I have ever heard tells the story of the example a father sets.
  • Beginning with the birth of a son the song takes us from scene to scene as a dad has too little time to play with his son or spend time with him.
    • In the first two scenes the song finishes with the words of the son who says “I’m gonna be like you day, you know I’m gonna be like you.”
    • In the third scene the father and son’s roles have been reversed. The father wants to spend time but it’s the son now who does not have time for him.
    • By the final scene the father calls the son and he does not have even the time to talk with his father on the phone, and the father says “He’d grown up just like me, My boy was just like me.”
  • From the very first time I heard The Cat’s in the Cradle the haunting lyrics of the chorus “When you coming home? I don’t know when, But we’ll get together then. You know we’ll have a good time them” evoked an emotional response in my soul.

Hook:

  • I think the reason I have always responded to that song has more to do with one of my greatest longings as a child, and fear now as a father.
    • As a child, because my father traveled every week, I longed for him to spend devoted time with me. It hurt for him not to be around, though I had no doubt that he loved me.
    • As a father, especially because of my role as a pastor, I fear that I am too often away from my children; and when I am with them, I fear that I do not give them the kind of devoted time they need.
  • Every one of us sets an example parent or not. The difference is whether or not it is godly.
    • Setting examples takes time, so whatever we devote the majority of our time towards accomplishing, that is what is communicated as important.
    • Whatever we cannot devote any time towards is communicated as unimportant.
  • Consider as a parent what we spend time doing. As a church member what do we spend time to accomplish each weeks. Pastors or deacons, what do we spend time on in our meetings?
    • Does the example we set match that of Christ?
    • Are we advocating with our time the need to love God and love others?
    • Are we devoting ourselves towards making disciples at home, every day, and especially as leaders?
  • What I hope to share with you today, through the story of Samson’s parents are the examples that a spiritual father and a spiritual mother will endeavor to set.

Message Points:

  • A believer does not have to be married or have a child to be a spiritual father or a spiritual mother.
  • Because Christianity is a Great Commission faith, we are called, each of us as believers to regularly mentor someone else in the faith.
    • If you are a parent or grandparent, you have the responsibility to mentor those in your home towards Christ.
    • If you are a Sunday School shepherd, that person who may not teach every week, but checks on the class, prays with them, and seeks to help each member take the next step in their walk with Christ, you too are a spiritual father or mother to those in your class.
    • Pastors and deacons share the load of mentoring and setting the example for the entire church.
    • Every member of God’s church has the blessing of setting an example for someone else and helping them to follow Christ.
  • So, as I use the words spiritual father and mother today, know I am referring to all of us who are Christians, not just those who are parents today.
  • Every time the phrase “the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord” is mentioned before Judges 13, there is a reference shortly thereafter to Israel crying out to God.
  • Here it is God acting first as a display of His grace.
    • God’s first act of grace is seen in Creation. He did not have to create us, but he chose to do so, by His grace.
    • Similarly God’s activity in the Old Testament to redeem His people Israel was not necessary, but he chose to do so, expressing his grace.
    • The most important activity of God’s grace came while we were yet sinners when Christ died for us!
    • God’s grace is His unmerited favor. It is Him choosing to do good by us, though we do not choose to do good by Him.
  • So here in Judges 13 he chose to display his grace to redeem his people, and he does so like he did in Creation with a spiritual father and a spiritual mother.
  • So here is the story:
    • In verses 2-5 Samson’s mother encounters an angel who tells her that her dreams are coming true.
      • Out of her barrenness, she will give birth to a son.
      • She was to be careful not to drink fermented drink or eat anything unclean.
      • The boy was to never have a razor touch his head because he was a Nazarite dedicated to God.
      • He would deliver Israel from the Philistines.
    • In verses 6-10 she goes to tell her husband who chooses to ask God to confirm what she saw and heard.
      • She repeats to her husband what the angel had said.
      • Rather than scolding her or making fun of her, Manoah sought God’s help to confirm what he had not seen.
      • God honors Manoah’s request and the angel returns to his wife.
      • Samson’s mother comes to get Manoah and they both return to the angel.
    • In verses 11-20 Samson’s mother and Manoah both encounter the Angel of the Lord.
      • Manoah first asks for the angel to confirm what his wife told him.
      • They offer to prepare a meal, but the AoL says he will not stay for a meal, but for worship.
      • They ask the AoL’s name, but he says it is beyond understanding.
      • As they sacrifice the offering in a blaze of flame from the altar the AoL ascended to heaven.
      • They both fell down and worshipped God.
    • In verses 21-25 the couple return to life changed.
      • Manoah realizes this is the AoL and is terrified that they will die because they saw God.
      • Samson’s mother comforts her husband and encourages him that God would not have accepted their worship or instructed them about the child if he mean to kill them.
      • As the time came, Samson was born, grew and was blessed by the Lord. The Holy Spirit began stirring in him.
  • Let’s begin our discussions with Samson’s mother.
    • Judges 13:2 tells us that she was the wife of Manoah from a town called Zorah. According to the Rabbis, Zorah is a town mentioned both in Dan and in Judah. Thus they surmise that Manoah is of the tribe of       Dan and Samson’s mother is of the tribe of Judah.
    • While we do not know her name we are told that she was childless. In ancient Israel, where the promises of God passed from generation to generation as they inhabited the land they inherited, to not have a child meant that the person was either out of favor with God. (see Danylak – Singleness)
    • But far from being out of favor with God, Samson’s mother was chosen by God.
  • It is her response that gives us our 1st example: A spiritual mother’s example teaches us the value of respect.
    • A spiritual mother’s example is commanded first in Genesis. By his grace God created the first mother as a helper and companion, to respect others (Gen. 2).
    • Eve was created as a “help-mate”. Both parts of this role are important to note.
      • The help portion implies that a spiritual mother, like Eve, has an important task to assist others in accomplishing. For Eve this was being fruitful, subduing and having dominion over Creation.
      • The mate portion implies that a spiritual mother, like Eve, is not merely a servant, but a companion, an equal with the others around her.
      • This relationship of respect is especial true in the covenant of marriage.
    • Respect in this sense is the listening to, and repeating or encouraging of a godly example.
      • If Adam had named the a creature with big ears and a long trunk an arliphant but Eve told the children it was an elephant what do you think the children would have grown up calling that creature?
      • Eve had a tremendous responsibility as a spiritual mother         of encouraging and repeating the example she wanted her children to follow.
      • Eve was Adam’s helpmate every time she respected him enough to encourage and repeat his godly example.
    • As such every spiritual mother should repeat godly examples.
      • Just look at Samson’s mother.
        • Samson’s mother respects the Angel of the Lord enough to listen carefully to the angel. Note how fully she repeated his words to her husband.
        • Samson’s mother respected her husband’s opinion.
          • The woman did not have to tell her husband these things, but she did.
          • Hannah evidently did not tell her husband all that transpired in the Tabernacle before Samuel’s birth.
          • Certainly, some men would have been furious that their wife had spoken to another man. Others would have mocked that crazy wife and her visions.
          • She did not know what her husband would do, but out of respect she wanted to see what her husband would say.
        • Samson’s mother was not opposed to Manoah’s request that God to confirm His will to them both . In fact she encouraged him by immediately going In verse 10, to get Manoah so they both could hear the angel’s words.
        • And even when Manoah was foolish, Samson’s mother encouraged a more godly example with her reasonable explanation of God’s will, and evident obedience to God as she delivered and began to raise the boy soon after.
    • Respect teaches us to listen to others but to serve only God. (13:2-25)
      • God is the one who we must always serve first. He is the person we must respect most.
      • In the New Testament this concept of respect is talked about using the term submission.
        • Believers are not to live as they please but submit first and foremost to God. James 5:17-18 tells us that we should submit to God that we might draw near to Him and resist the devil.
        • Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one another as believers and         Hebrews 13:17 tells us to submit to our leaders. We should listen to the opinions of other believers, especially our leaders and follow them so long as they conform to the example we have from God.
        • In Ephesians 5:22 the Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord”. Again the principle is to respect a husband enough to hear his opinion and follow him so long as the opinion is godly.
      • So ladies in the congregation, are you a spiritual mother like Samson’s mother?
        • Are you like my grandmother who read her Bible in the kitchen each day and asked us what we thought about the passage she was reading?
        • Are you like my faithful Sunday School teacher as a child who was strict enough to correct us and loving enough to hug us and sit us in her lap – all so that she could tell us the story of Jesus, again and again?
        • Are you like the wives I have pastored who shoulder the burden of shepherding their children while still praying for and encouraging their husbands to lead the family in worship?
        • Are you like the precious ladies who have asked me how they could pray for me, and sent me cards and notes to encourage me when I have been down?
      • Today you can become a spiritual mother. Begin my trusting         Jesus Christ. Then encourage and repeat the example of anyone who lives for Him.
  • Now we turn our attention to Samson’s father, Manoah.
    • Manoah was evidently not as spiritually sensitive or astute as his wife. After all he did not recognize God’s Word when she shared it with him, and was confused about what the AoL’s ascension meant.
    • However, Manoah’s life displays the 2nd example we will see todoay: a spiritual father’s example teaches us the value of responsibility.
      • In a book about Church Revitalization, Robert Stuart advocates for men of the church to “man up” by initiating, giving direction, protecting God’s people from error, and providing love and care for the flock. He says, “men who lack the ‘stuff of leadership’ will abdicate their headship and responsibility” (154)
      • By his grace God created the first husband with the responsibility to serve and a lead others. (Gen. 2)
        • Adam was charged with the responsibility to tend and keep the garden. This was a call to be responsible for provision.
        • Adam was charged with the responsibility to name the animals. With this God indicated that man should offer guidance and direction.
        • But God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. Thus God indicates that men have the responsibility to humbly lead ,protect, and care for others.
      • Every spiritual father repeats this example. Just look at Manoah.
        • Manoah far from being uncaring or harsh towards his wife (as Colossians 3:19 forbids) chooses to lead her spiritually and prays.
        • When they together encounter the angel it is Manoah who suggests a feast, meaning that he had enough provisions to make such an event happen.
        • It is Manoah who asks for the AoL’s name that he might lead his family in thanking God for his visit.
        • And even though he is wrong in his assumption, I believe Manoah was distraught because he felt like he had failed to protect his family.
    • Responsibility teaches us to lead others humbly before God. (13:8-25)
      • A true spiritual father, and leader never forgets that he is also a servant of God.
        • This was Jesus’ teaching in the upper room before he was betrayed. John 13 tells us that he even stooped to wash the disciple’s feet.
        • Even in Acts 20 when Paul speaks to the elders or pastors at Ephesus he mentions to them to “pay attention first to yourselves and then to the flock.” Meaning that we must watch our own conduct as we lead others, because we do so before God.
        • Galatians echoes this charge to the spiritual in the church there. Verse 6:1 encourage believer to restore erring brothers and sisters, but do so as you watch yourselves.
      • So men in the congregation are you a spiritual father like Manoah?
        • Do you listen to your wife and others carefully so that you might lead through prayer to a closer walk with Christ?
        • Do you seek to provide enough for your family and over and above that which you can offer to the Lord?
        • Do you lead your family and others in the church to thank God for blessing you?
        • When you make a mistake or you fail, do you admit it and turn towards a more faithful direction to Christ?
      • Today you can be a spiritual father. But again, you must first serve Jesus Christ. Then you can take the responsibility to lead others closer to Him.

Conclusion:

  • Think of that song I mentioned at the beginning one more time?
    • If the people closest to you were to turn out just like you, what would they be like?
    • Would they be insensitive self-absorbed people?
    • Or would they be loving, Christ-centered people?
    • Today make the decision to set an example that is worth following by turning to Jesus Christ.
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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