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Watch 2022 online sermons » Greg Laurie » Greg Laurie — The Wasted Potential of a World Changer

Greg Laurie — The Wasted Potential of a World Changer

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TOPICS: World Changer

All right, well, let's grab our bibles, and we're gonna turn to Judges chapter 16. Judges chapter 16. We're back in our World Changer series. The title of my message is the Wasted Potential of a World Changer. You know, one thing I've found in life is it's just full of surprises. Isn't it? The longer you live, it's like, wow, now that is not what I expected to happen. There are unexpected pleasures and blessings that come your way. Sometimes surprises that are sad, others that are tragic. Some that are downright inexplicable. But you know, I mean surprised how some people's lives have turned out.

There are people I knew maybe in high school that I thought this person is never going to amount to anything. This person, I don't know what's gonna happen with their life, but they'll never, you know, sometimes we called 'em geeks and nerds. By the way, nowadays we call them boss sometimes. But then there are other people I knew that, man, they were the one. They had that extraordinary gift. They had that natural charisma. They were that born leader, and you thought that person is gonna make their mark on the world. And then maybe they went out and crashed and burned. I've known people that have had incredible spiritual giftedness from God. They could preach, they could sing, they could do a lot of things. I thought, wow, you're gonna hear all about their ministry, and they maybe had a ministry for a time. And then seemingly out of nowhere, they just sort of self-destructed, or maybe it was a more gradual process.

Well, we're in our World Changer series, and we're gonna look at a guy who had an amazing beginning, but not a great ending. And in fact, I have to admit, I'm even a little surprised he made it into the Heroes Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. Fact is, let me just mention, among other names, Samson, he's just included. I mean, it was surprising to me that Gideon got in this group, but Samson, after his colossal failure. I mean, in contrast to Gideon, who really knew he was really on the lowest rung of the ladder. And basically when he was called by God, he said, Lord, I'm the runt of the litter. I'm the lowest of the low. Samson, in contrast, thought he was all that and a bag of chips. And he was a mighty man. And for a time, he was a mighty man of God. And even for a time, he was a true world changer. But also in time, the world began to change him as he turned his back on God. He had an amazing beginning and a tragic ending.

And listen, we decide how our story will end spiritually. You don't decide the day of your death any more than you decided the day of your birth. You don't decide how you will die or where you will die, but you do decide the spiritual state you will be in when you die, and we don't know when that date will come. You say, no, God decides that. No, actually you decide that. God wants you close to him. God wants you in friendship and fellowship and intimacy with him, but that's my choice to have that relationship with the Lord or not to have that relationship with the Lord. If you're following the news, you know that Judge Neil Gorsuch is going through hearings to determine if he will have the privilege to sit on the Supreme Court.

I was listening to it on my radio the other day, the hearings and the normal grillings and such from various senators, but then he was asked a very interesting question and gave what I thought was a more interesting answer. He was asked when he retires, how he will know whether or not he's been a good judge. And when that was asked, I thought, well, that's a fascinating question, not normally what you hear. And I loved his response. He said, "Senator, that's a question I ask my kids every semester where I teach ethics". And he teaches an ethics class and has his students write their own obituary. He says some of them think it's a bit corny, but others like it and will even read them to the class. Kind of like, what do you want to be remembered for. And then Judge Gorsuch said, "What I wanna be remembered for is being a good man, a good father, a loving husband". I thought what great qualities to think about.

And by the way, I think he will make a great Supreme Court Justice, too. Wanna throw that in there. But have you ever done that before? Have you ever written your own obituary? See, one day your obituary will be printed in a paper. Your life will be summed up in a paragraph or two on a bulletin that will be handed out at your funeral service, and nobody cares about how much money you made, nobody cares about how much stuff you owned. Nobody cares how high you climbed in your profession or anything like that. They'll talk about what kind of person you were, what kind of son or daughter or husband or wife or mom or dad you were. They'll talk about those qualities of life. Those are the things that really matter. And they'll also talk about your faith. And here's Samson who, if you were to write his obituary, this was not a great ending.

That is why the bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:8, the end of a matter is better than its beginning. The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, quote, "Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending," end quote. You know, if you're running in a race and you're holding the first place position for nine out of 10 laps, and then fall on the field and don't complete the race, it really doesn't matter what you did, does it? You have to cross the finish line, and preferably, be there before anybody else gets there and win the race you're running. And so the idea is we wanna finish well, not just start well. But God gave him a second chance. So let's see what we can learn from his life. If you're taking notes, here's point number one. Samson had a great beginning.

Point number one, Samson had a great beginning. I mean, he had superhuman qualities. Physically, there was none stronger. He was faster than a speeding bullet. He was able to leap over tall buildings in a single, no, I got the wrong guy there. Wait, wait a second, that's Superman. But he was sort of like a superhero. I mean, think about this guy, he was a one-man army. On one occasion he killed 30 Philistines to settle a bet, the Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites. On another occasion, he killed a thousand Philistine warriors on the battlefield with a bone that he picked up off the ground. Not a sword or a spear, a bone. This guy was incredible. He took a lion once and ripped it apart with his bare hands. And he wasn't a fictitious superhero like you read about in D.C. Comics or Marvel comics. Sampson was more powerful than the Hulk. He was smarter than Dr. Strange. And he was the real deal, and it appears that Jesus Christ himself announced his birth, because an angel of the Lord appeared to a woman married to a man named Manoah, and the angel told her she's gonna have a son who will begin to delver Israel from the Philistines.

And then she told her husband, he said, well, I wanna meet this guy, and the angel shows up again, and then they ask him what is your name, and the angel says, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful". And it makes me wonder, wait, is that a Christophany? You know what a Christophany is, right? An appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. Because what is Jesus or what does God say of the messiah in Isaiah 9:6, he will call his name wonderful, counselor. So the angel says, "Why should I tell you my name, seeing it's wonderful," so it could've been the Lord. But that significant if Jesus Christ is announcing your birth. And God's spirit came upon Samson to make a stand at a very dark time in the history of Israel. Similar to Gideon's time. Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. And the bible also says in Judges that the word of the Lord was scarce in those days.

So Samson was dedicated to the Lord, and God wanted him to take the vow of a nazirite. Among other things, that meant that you would never drink alcohol, and secondly, that you would grow your hair out. Now sometimes we think Samson, his strength came from his hair, and I hope that's not true because if strength comes from hair. My wife is a mighty warrior, and I am worthless. The problem is my hair grows, but it grows in all the wrong places, you know? It doesn't grow here, but it grows, nevermind, I don't wanna get into that, but you know what I'm talking about. So he never cut his hair. And his strength did not come from his hair, it came from his commitment to God symbolized by his hair.

By the way, here's an interesting little twist on the story. The bible never says Samson was well built or muscular. I think when we envision him, we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian, right? You know, all pumped up, I'm here to pump you up. You know, long hair, that's Samson, right? Well, not necessarily. You know, the bible tells us that Joseph was well built, muscular, bible tells us that David was very strong. But whenever Samson did one of his feats of strength, the Spirit of God would come upon him. So what if he was like a scrawny little dude, right? Wore glasses with tape on the bridge, you know, I don't know. Pocket protector, hello, I'm Samson, who knows? We don't know anything about him in that way. But what he did was from God. He didn't do it in his own strength when God's spirit would come upon him.

So he has a great beginning, he is dedicated to the Lord. His birth announced by the Lord, or at the very least an angel, but no sooner does he get started when he starts doing the wrong things. He blatantly disobeys God and goes and marries a Philistine woman. They worshiped false gods. And this was something God told them not to do. And this caused a lot of problems, and then after that, he got involved with a prostitute who lived down in Gaza, and he would go down to Gaza and he'd be with this prostitute. And so the devil threw out the bait, and Samson took it hooker, line, and sinker, okay? Here is Samson's problem. He had power without purity. He had strength without self control. And I think he also took this supernatural strength God gave him for granted, thinking it would always be there.

Listen, for 20 years, he experienced the thrill of victory. Even when he was compromising, even when he sinned, the Lord still gave him this strength to do amazing things. So he probably thought it would always be there, but one day it wasn't. The devil sized him up, found his Achilles heel, and came up with a hack. Oh, I know how to get this guy. And he designed a special instrument to bring Samson down, and her name was Delilah. By the way, the word Delilah means delicate. So this beautiful, delicate, feminine, probably petite girl comes up to Samson. And he's attracted to her, and this proved to be his undoing, so let's look at the story now.

Judges 16, starting in verse four. By the way, I'm reading from the New Living translation. Afterward, it happened that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. And the Lord said the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him so we can bind him to afflict him, and every one of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver". So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies and with what you may be bound to afflict you". Samson said, "If they bind me with seven fresh bow strings not yet dried, I'll become weak like any other man". So the lords of the Philistines brought up the seven fresh bow strings, and they're lying in wait and staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson". And he broke the bow strings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire, so the secret of his strength was not known, we'll stop there.

So these Philistines are determined to bring Samson down. They offer Delilah the equivalent of $5,000. We'll pay you five grand. Just find out the secret of his strength, bringing me to point number two. Temptation comes in attractive packages. Point number one, Samson had a good beginning. Point number two, temptation comes in attractive packages. I'm sure Delilah was a very attractive woman. They're not gonna hire some homely girl. They hire a fox effectively, okay? She'll catch his eye, we know that for sure. And when the devil brings temptation, it's always gonna be attractive. Listen, the devil may be wicked, but he's not stupid. He knows what he's doing. He knows how to package his wares. He knows how to sell his stuff, and he knows how to direct market to you. This has really been discovered a lot now with people buying on the internet. Remember when that was an unusual thing?

Now so many things are purchased on the internet. I know this recently because I bought six beach chairs on the internet, and I wanted two. But I messed up the order, and I got too many. But here's the weird thing, you order something, and then they notice what you order, and then there's these little popup ads for things like that that come up 'cause now they've kind of figured you out. Okay, this guy's weird, he likes lots of beach chairs, so let's market beach chairs and things related to beach chairs to this guy. So all these little popup ads, you know what I'm talking about, and they're popping up because that's direct marketing. That's the artificial intelligence working. And you go, woo, I didn't know that was out there. Click, click, click, click, and there it goes. Devil does the same thing. Okay, so what do you like? What's your weakness? What are you drawn to? What's your Achilles heel? Oh, you like this? Then I'm gonna bring that to you, and I'm gonna bring all the problems that come with it.

Don't forget when Eve and Adam were tempted, the bible says the fruit of the tree was pleasant to look upon. So the devil sized up Samson and figured him out. He was a he-man with a she weakness. Point number three. For temptation to succeed, we must be a willing participant. For temptation to succeed, we must be a wiling participant. For temptation to work its magic, if you will, there must be desire on our part. James one, 14 to 15 says everyone is tempted. When he is drawn away by his own desires and is enticed, and when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when its full grown, brings forth death. For Satan to succeed, we must listen, yield, and desire what he wants. So we must listen and yield to and want what he's offering. He offers different kinds of bait, but it's not the bait that constitutes sin. It's the bite.

Let me say that again, it's not the bait that constitutes sin, it's the bite. Another way of saying it, it's not a sin to be tempted. So if you're tempted, oh, I'm so twisted. I can't believe that temptation came. Has nothing to do with you. The devil can throw anything at you, and it pops into your mind or whatever. And it's not a bad thing until you make it your thing, you see? If you say forget that, man, I'm not thinking about that. Get behind me, Satan, that's great. But if you say, ooh, that's interesting, I think I'll take that for a test drive. I think I'll try that free sample. I think I'll think about that a little bit, that that's where the problem begins. So the devil observed Samson, saw how he would bring him down, he thought, I'm not gonna bring this guy down in the battlefield, but I can bring him down in the bedroom, but he did find a willing accomplice in Samson because he kept walking into trap after trap. You know, the tip off for Samson should've been that Delilah worked at Supercuts, right? I mean, come on. And you have to give Delilah credit. She was upfront with her intentions.

Looking for a six, she says please tell me where your great strength lies so I may afflict you. Single people. If you go out on a date with someone and they say something like that, don't go out with that person again. In fact, terminate the date immediately. She's direct, but he found this amusing. You, afflict me? I kill Philistines for entertainment. And you, this delicate little dish named Delilah, you're going to afflict me? Oh, that's absurd. And that brings us to a very important point, a great theological insight. Are you ready for it, here it is. Sin makes you stupid. It's true, sin makes you stupid. Just like when you drink alcohol. You know, you have a drink, you have another drink. You start saying crazy stuff. Maybe you start doing weird things. You're under the influence of alcohol. You see it in the way people drive. They get DUIs, not because they speed, sometimes because they drive too slow. Or they just stop or they do things that draw the attention of, you know, the CHP or other police officers, and so forth. They're pulled over, you're under the influence they say.

And sin brings you under its influence, and you start saying and doing crazy stuff. And that's what was happening to Samson. He wasn't thinking clearly, he thought he could handle it. We've all heard the rationalization, someone says, "Hey, we'll go just so far, and we'll stop, I promise". Hmm, famous last words. "Hey, I'll return it, I'm only borrowing it. Just this one time, we'll never do it again". The bible asks the question, can a man take fire in his lap and not be burned? They say, I don't know the answer. Okay, go set fire to your lap later and tell me how that works out. Yeah, no, if you have fire in your lap, you will be burned. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by fire. And I did stupid things. I used to take my mom's hairspray, and I would light a lighter, and I would spray it, and it would be like a blowtorch. Could anything be dumber than this?

I'd see like, you know, a spider in the corner. Loved it. So little pyromaniac in the making. So I loved to set fire to my army men. I had these little green army men. They're all in fixed positions, you know, one's holding a pistol, another guy's holding a rifle, and another guy's crouched down with a bazooka. So I liked the guys who were aiming the rifle because I would light the end of it, and you know, I'd light it and it's like this, and it would kind of start working up the guy, and he'd start melting like this, and melting, melting, melting, melting. And then he'd be a little green puddle. So one time I was lighting my army men on fire on top of a piece of newspaper. And you know what happened, it caught fire. Oh, no, what do I do? So I grabbed this paper on fire with plastic green army men burning and threw it into a wastebasket that was made out of like bamboo.

Now that's, oh, you know, fortunately I was able to get the fire out, but that's how sin works, right? Starts small, gets out of control. Oh, I can handle this, oh, wait, wait, this is bigger than it was. And that's what happened to Samson. He kept getting closer and closer to the truth. First he'd lie. Oh, if you do this, you know, both strings, I can't handle that. Okay, what a joke. So he thought he could keep playing this game. Point number four, moral compromise always makes us vulnerable. Moral compromise always makes us vulnerable. See, if Samson was not having this sinful relationship with Delilah, he wouldn't be in this mess that he was in. But she would not give up. She kept tormenting him, she kept nagging him. And now she goes in for the kill, go back to Judges 16, verse 15, again, I'm reading from the New Living translation. Then Delilah pouted, how can you say you love me when you won't confide in me? You've made fun of me three times now. You still haven't told me what makes you so strong.

So day after day, she nagged him until he couldn't stand it any longer. Finally, Samson told her his secret. My hair has never been cut. He confessed of his dedicated and nazirite from birth, if my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become weak as anyone else. Delilah realized he finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine leaders, "Come back one more time. He's told me everything," So the Philistine leaders returned and brought the money with them, and she lulled, or she lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and she called to a man to shave off his hair, making his capture certain, and his strength left him. Then she cried out, "Samson, the Philistines have come to capture you," and he woke up and thought, I'll do as I have before and shake myself free. But he didn't realize the Lord had left him. Underline that verse. He didn't realize the Lord had left them. So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes, and they took to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and made to grind grain in the prison. We'll stop there.

Wow, what a sad story. If Samson were running a race, he would've just fallen and fallen hard. And it would appear he would never get up again. Look at what Delilah says to him in verse 15. "If you love me, you'll do this". Listen to this, any person who would ask you to compromise your principles as a believer to prove your love does not really love you, okay? So some guy says to you girls, if you love me, you'll go all the way with me. Uh-uh. He doesn't love you. He's a dog. Hey, if you love me, you'll lie for me. If you love me, you'll cover for me. Wait a second, don't ask me to compromise my principles to prove my love. Fact of the matter is, if I love you, I'll tell you the truth. Because the bible says open rebuke is better than secret love, faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

I think we completely misunderstand love sometimes, and we confuse lust for love. And what's amazing to me is he's comfortable enough with Delilah to fall asleep in her lap. Talk about sleeping with the enemy. And then this sad statement, verse 20, he didn't realize the Lord had left him. See, this is what happens to people when they get caught up in sin. They think everyone's against them. No one understands them, everyone's judging them. You don't get it, I'm different. No, you're not different. We're all the same. We're all vulnerable, we're all capable of doing crazy stuff, we have to know that about ourselves. And you can come into the sway and influence and intoxicating effects of sin if you're not careful, and that's what was happening now to Samson. He thought he would shake himself free as he had done on other times, and that reminds us of something, sin blinds you, it finds you, and it grinds you.

See, the Philistines took Samson, gouged out his eyes, bound him with bronze chains, and he was grinding grain in the prison, sin blinds you, finds you, and grinds you. First sin blinds you, you do irrational things. Yeah, I've heard of men, of course, you have, too, I'm sure, walking away from their wives who love them, their children, to go have some stupid fling. I've heard of women abandoning their families to go find themselves, you know? Crazy stuff, it blinds you to the truth. It seems so appealing at first, but then, you know, you find yourself trapped. Number two, sin finds you, and what does that mean? The bible says your sin will find you out. I know you're getting away with it right now, but it's gonna catch up with you sooner or later. You know, there's that euphoric-like excitement the first time you cross the line with that person. Or after that first sexual encounter, or after you visit that first elicit website, or after you steal that object, oh, I got away with it. That was fun. Sin can be fun, can't it? Right? The bible speaks of the pleasures of sin for a season, for a season, for a time. There's a little bit of a rush, but now, here comes the repercussions like a ton of bricks crashing down on you. And that's what we don't think about.

Oh, well, I'm having fun, they lied, they lied to me, man, it's fun. Hey, I'm not lying to you, it's fun, and then it kills you. So if you're down with that, go for it. But I think we like to ignore the other part, well, I'll never get caught, no one will ever know, I'll never face the repercussions. Oh, sin blinds you, then sin finds you, and then sin grinds you, then there's the repercussion of sin, broken families, betrayed trust, damaged witness and reputation. Devastated children with deep wounds that they may carry for the rest of their lives. Hey, who cares about that, what about your needs, right? That's what we'll say, that's what sin can do. But yet, I told you, God gave Samson a second chance. And by he way, verse 22 of Judges 16 is the life verse for all bald men. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven. I often read this verse, I hold the bible to my head, I say, "Lord, let it be even now unto your bald servant Greg, just let my hair begin to grow". His hair began to grow again, I love that.

See, Samson was learning, he was learning the hard way. So here he's down grinding the wheat, you know, in the mill going round in circles, his eyes are gone, can't see anything, his hair is shaved, but it's starting to grow back. So one dya the Philistines are having a big drunken feast to worship their false god Dagan. And by the way, Dagan was half fish and half man. Sort of a merman. Instead of a mermaid, it was a merman. Hey, let's worship the merman. Let's worship Dagan, yeah. Then some Philistine had the stupidest idea in all of Philistine history. Let's bring up that Samson guy for entertainment. You know, he doesn't have any strength left. So they bring up Samson. Walks upstairs, he's not looking around, he can't see a thing.

There's a little boy next to him, little servant kid, and he says, "Son, would you show me where the foundational pillars of this temple are"? And the little boy says, "Sure, come on". And he walks over, puts a hand on one pillar, he puts a hand on the other, and he says, "Lord, give me strength to do this one last time". And he pushes, and the pillars come apart, and the floor above collapses, and thousands of Philistines who are partying away, worshiping a false god, fall to their deaths, and he ends up killing more Philistines in the end than he had killed in his entire career, if you will. So in a way, it was a victory. But of course, the sad part is he died with the Philistines. Remember, God said he would begin to deliver Israel. Unfortunately, he didn't finish the job he started. He had a great beginning, not a great ending, but God did give him a second chance.

So let's learn the lesson of Samson. It's not enough to just know what is right or even to be used by God for a time. You need to finish this race. But let me say this. Maybe some of you say, well, it's too late for me. I've made so many mistakes, and I'm in this messed up family, and I know the same bad things that my mom and dad did, I'm gonna do, and then my kids are gonna do, and there's no way to break this cycle of sin. I'm telling you, Jesus can change your story. He can change your story.

And I have a great illustration for that because I have a letter that I received recently from a listener, her name is Lisa. It's a little bit long, but stay with me. I think you'll agree with me that this is an amazing story. Lisa writes:

Let me tell you how your ministry has changed my life. I grew up in an alcoholic home. My parents were alcoholics, my father was abusive to my mother. I was the second child of four. I had an older sister, younger sister, and a younger brother, and we were brought up as Catholics, but I never knew anything about salvation or having a relationship with Jesus Christ. When I was nine years old, my mother, father, and younger sister were in an alcohol-related car accident in March of 1987. My father and younger sister passed away. My mother was in critical condition for several months. I disliked going to the hospital to visit her, having to see all the tubes and wires and bandages. I barely recognized her.

My mother recovered after the doctors said she wouldn't walk again. Unfortunately, after her recovery, she continued with her drinking and binged, not caring for the three children, her three children that remained alive. I believe because of the hurt, pain, and difficult life we had, my older sister then committed suicide at the age of 20. Okay, this story is just going from bad to worse. This hurt me very much, Lisa writes. I felt hurt and alone like no one cared. I would think, why was I created to endure all this pain and hurt, to be left alone? I often had thoughts of suicide. My brother was being cared for by my uncle and his family, and my mom continued her drinking, and I pretty much grew up on my own. I finished school, but I got pregnant at a young age.

And then in 1997, my mom was driving drunk and she killed a woman. She was charged with vehicular homicide and was sent to prison. Wow, it's just going down. But God loves to interrupt stories like this. But it was during this time that she was incarcerated she began to listen to Christian radio, and you were one of the ones she would listen to. She'd listen and listen until one night she cried out to God and surrendered her life to Jesus. Praise God, she's now a born-again Christian. She's been serving the Lord faithfully, and the Lord has done great things in her life, and she fast and prayed for my salvation for five years, and in 2003, I gave my life to the Lord. I remember my mother saying she would listen to you on the radio every day. If she hadn't heard the message and gotten saved, I don't think I would be saved. Thank you for your faithfulness to God. Then listen to what she says. I lost two sisters, but the Lord has given me many sisters in Christ. I'm thankful for what Jesus has done for me on the cross. God bless you and Harvest Ministry.

Isn't that a great story? True story. You know, people talk about generational curses, there's a curse on your family and there's no way to break the curse. Nonsense. There's no generational curses. When Jesus died on the cross, all curses, all sin was broken. And when you put your faith in Christ, you're free from it. I don't need to go over my story, you know it. My mom was an alcoholic, my mom was married and divorced seven times. If statistics went their natural direction, I would've been divorced multiple times by now. I'd probably be a drunk and slurring my words. I wouldn't be a preacher, I'll tell you that. But God interrupted my story. And he turned my mess into a message. And he did the same for Lisa, and he can do the same for you. And I don't care what trouble you've gotten yourself into. Say, well Greg, I've made the worst decisions and the worst decisions on top of that. Okay, right, so own it, admit it. Ask God to help, cry out to God, just like Lisa's mom did, cry out to God, and the Lord will hear you. And the Lord will answer your prayer, and God will change your story.

Let me go back to one point, and then I'll close. We read that Samson did not know the Lord had left him. He did not know the Lord had left him. See, in the Old Testament, in the Old Covenant, when God would speak to a person, it was different than how it is in the New Covenant, in our relationship with God. In the Old Testament, the spirit of God might come upon a person, God might speak to a person, but in this case, the Lord left Samson. But the good news is, when you're a Christian, Jesus says, "I will never, ever leave you or forsake you". God will never leave you, ever. God will never leave you no matter what you have done, but listen to this, you can leave him. God won't leave you, but you can leave him.

I sometimes joke to my wife, if you ever leave me, I'm going with you, so you know, it's kinda hard to leave someone if they go with you, right? So God won't abandon you, but you can abandon God. And maybe you've done that, you know, you've raised in the church or you made a commitment to Christ, and you've gotten involved in some messed up thing, in an affair or some, you're involved in drugs or what. You come back to stuff you never thought you'd go back to again, and you're dealing with addiction issues and substance abuse issues or other things, who knows, there's so many crazy things we can get ourselves into, and you're thinking, I don't know how to get out of this. You need to call out to the Lord. I love what Jesus says to the church of Ephesus. He says, "You've left your first love". You see, they had left him. God didn't leave them, but they left him. He says, "You've left your first love, but remember from where you have fallen, repent and do the first works quickly".

So the three Rs or getting right with God, remember, repent, repeat. Number one, remember, remember, it was better before. Your life was better before when you were walking closely with Jesus. Remember that as a point of reference. Number two, repent, that means hang a U-turn. Admit your sin, don't blame others for it, stop rationalizing it, admit it, repent. God says if you'll repent, you'll be cleansed. And then thirdly, repeat. Go back and do the things you used to do. Remember when you used to start each day reading the bible? Remember when you used to have a prayer life? Remember when you were actively involved in the church? Do that again. But here's the thing, you can come back to him today, and some of you may need to do that, but there are some here that have never put their faith in Jesus. And maybe you're reaping the consequences of bad decisions right now. Maybe that's why you're at church. And actually, I'm really glad you're here. And you're welcome here, and we wanna help you.

Maybe you don't have a crisis in your life, but you've just become very aware of the fact that you're a sinner separated from God, and you need your sin forgiven because you wanna go to Heaven when you die. Jesus who died on the cross and rose again from the dead stands at the door of your life and he knocks and says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he'll come in. I'd like to give you an opportunity to believe in Jesus right here, right now. Let's all bow our heads for prayer.

Father, I pray for any that are here with us, any that are listening or watching, wherever they are, speak to their hearts now and help them to see their need for you, and help them to come to you, we would pray.

Now while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying, how many of you would say today I need Jesus Christ today. I want my sin forgiven. I wanna know that when I die, I'll go to Heaven. I wanna get rid of this guilt. I wanna find the meaning and purpose of my life. I'm ready to say yes to Jesus, pray for me. If that's your desire, wherever you are, if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you want a second chance in life, would you raise your hand up right now and let me pray for you? Raise your hand up where I can see it, and I'll pray for you, saying I want Jesus, I want him to forgive me of my sin. Raise your hand up, God bless you. Lift it up high where I can see it, please. God bless you, God bless you, wherever you are, God bless you. All over the room hands are going up. God bless all of you. Anybody else, raise your hand now, let me pray for you. You want Jesus, God says call upon me and I will answer you, says the Lord.

So reach out to him, let me pray for you. Anybody else, if you haven't raised your hand yet, lift it now. You want Christ to come into your life today, you want your sin forgiven, God bless all of you. While our heads are still bowed, maybe some of you would be honest enough to admit you're compromising, you're in a backslidden state, you need to come back to Jesus. You need to return to the Lord. If that's you, maybe you're in a place like Samson was. You're in trouble that you made for yourself, but you need God's help. Would you say pray for me, I need to recommit my life to Jesus, if that's you, if you need to come back to him, return to him, raise your hand up and let me pray for you right now. You need to make that recommitment to Christ, God bless you, God bless you.

Anybody else, raise your hand up now, God bless. God bless all of you, now I want every one of you who has raised their hand, I want you to stand to your feet wherever you are, and we're gonna pray together. Just stand up, all of you that raised your hand, stand up, and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer right here, right now, we're gonna get this resolved. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next Sunday. Right here, right now, just stand up, even if you did not raise your hand, but you want Christ to come into your life, or you need to make this recommitment to Jesus. Stand to your feet and were gonna pray together. Stand up. If you're watching me on the screen, stand up. Stand up wherever you are, we're all gonna pray together.

I'll wait one more moment. You want Jesus to come into your life or you need to recommit your life to him, stand up, and we'll pray together, God bless you. God bless you. There might be a few more. I'm gonna give you this opportunity. I'm not gonna plead with you or beg you, just giving you the opportunity. Do it if you wanna do it, here's your chance. God bless all of you standing. All right, wherever you are, God bless you. You that are standing, I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Again, as I pray, pray this out loud after me right where you stand, pray this, please.

Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, but I know you are the savior, and I know you love me, Jesus, and I know you died on the cross for me. And I turn from my sin today. I admit my responsibility in it. I'm sorry for it, and I ask you to forgive me and give me a second chance on life. I commit my life to you now, to follow Jesus from this moment forward. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

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