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The other night I was looking out on the valley behind our house and saw the brightest moon I had ever seen. It was so bright it cast shadows on the ground. I could see the entire backyard and even part of the valley. Nothing was hidden from the brightness that glowed from it.
The funny thing was, though, I realized that the moon itself has no power to give light; it simply reflects light. Why was it so bright? It reflected the light of the sun. Have you ever thought about that? We probably studied that in school, but it’s an amazing thing.
Just like the song says, I love to tell the story of Jesus and his love. Do our actions really tell the story of Jesus? Do they point others to who Jesus is and his power to save us from our sins?
Just like the moon, as Christians we are called to reflect the light of the Son of God. We reflect the sun like the moon does. We have no power within ourselves to produce light; we are simply a reflection of him.
But do our lives shine and point to Jesus as the source of the light in our life?
First, let’s think about being sanctified and surrendered . . . what do those words mean?
Sanctified means to be set apart means spiritually speaking. We’re set apart for God’s purpose and for his glory.
Surrendered means turning over control. From the spiritual perspective, we’re turning over control to God; we’re turning over control of our lives, actions, thoughts, words . . . all those things we are surrendering to the Lord.
There are two Bible heroes whose lives were intended to be sanctified and set apart for God: Samson and Eli. One was victorious and completely surrendered to the Lord’s will. The other learned his lesson the hard way.
The first story is told in the Old Testament book of Judges, as those men and women whom the Lord appointed as judges for the Israelites were continuously turning away from God. Often they did what was right in their own eyes, which meant it was wrong in God’s eyes.
Judges begins with “ And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years but God prepared a deliverer for the people.” Remember that.
Verse two says, “There was a certain man of Zora . . . and his wife was barren. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, behold, Now you’re barren and you bare not but thou shalt conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine or strong drink and eat not any unclean thing, for lo, thou shalt conceive and bear a son and no razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb. And he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines and the woman bore a son and called his name Samson and the child grew and the Lord blessed him.”
When we think of Samson, we think about his hair, his mighty strength, and Delilah. He was dedicated to the Lord under a Nazirite vow, which meant he couldn’t cut his hair, touch anything unclean, or drink anything from the vine, no grapes of any kind, the three main restrictions for those who take the Nazarite vow.
He was also to look, act, and be different from the rest of the world because he was set apart for service to the Lord and to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of the Philistines. As the story of Samson unfolds, we see pride, jealousy, lust and greed. Samson broke all of his vows to the Lord, and the Spirit of God left him.
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit wasn’t like it is in the New Testament. The Spirit of God could enter and leave a man at any time, much like the glory cloud that was over the tabernacle after the Israelites fled Egypt. But in the New Testament, Jesus promised His Holy Spirit would be with us always. Once we have the Holy Spirit, it never leaves us, but Samson is lowered by his lust for Delilah and he’s bound, his hair is cut, and his strength is taken away.
What once could have been used for God’s glory had been defiled by Samson’s selfish and sinful actions. Judges 16:21 says, “but the Philistines took him and they put out his eyes, and they brought him down to Gaza bound with fetters of brass and did grind in the prison house (but) the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice . . . and to rejoice, for they said, our God delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And it came to pass when their hearts were merry that they said, call for Samson, that he may make a sport or entertain us and they set him between the pillars.”
Picture this. The house (really a big tent) is full of the Philistines, about 3,000 men and women including their high officials, all in one place. Samson is now a prisoner and blinded by the Philistines; he stands before them as they mock him and the Lord. In that moment, Samson realizes how he wasted his life, and even though he was blind, his eyes were finally opened: He had been called to do something great for the Lord, and this is the mess that he made of it.
Verse 28 says, “And Samson called unto the Lord and said, oh, Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray, only this once. Oh God, that I may be at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood and on which it was born up. And of the one with his right hand and of the other with his left Samson said, let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might and the house fell upon the Lord’s servant and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead, which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”
What he did at that moment was greater than anything he had done in the past. Many stories in Scripture mention his great feats and how many men he killed during that time, but in this moment he did the greatest thing for the Lord. Samson had been selfish and lusted after the things of this world. His actions were not those of someone surrendered to the Lord. But through his death, God’s will was still accomplished.
Next is Eli, one of the last judges. God’s plan to turn his people back to him would be revealed through Samuel, the son of Hannah, who in Samuel 1:10 is worshiping with her husband and her husband’s other wife.
In Old Testament Scripture, just because a man has two wives doesn’t mean it’s right. So here he is with two wives: One wife has many sons and daughters and Hannah had no children. If that wasn’t bad enough, the other woman taunted Hannah because she wasn’t able to conceive a child. I can’t imagine what she would be feel being in that moment, unable to conceive a child and being taunted by the other woman. But in her time of trouble, she didn’t talk bad about this other woman. She went to the Lord, verse 10 says, “in bitterness of soul.”
Have you ever felt bitterness in your soul? “She prayed unto the Lord, and she wept sore. And she vowed a vow and said, oh, Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of your handmade and remember me and not forget your handmade but will give unto thy handmade a manchild, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life and there shall no razor come upon his head.”
Hannah said, “ No razor upon his head.” That kind of sounds familiar . . . same vow as Samson. Hannah could have been making that same Nazarite vow as Samson’s mother: A child was committed to the Lord for a special service and his hair would never be cut as an outward show of his commitment to God, similar to wearing wedding rings as an outward show of our commitment to our husband and to God.
As the story unfolds, Godd hears Hannah’s cries and grants her request for a child, a boy named him Samuel, which means “because I have asked him of the Lord.”
At that moment, Hannah could have kept Samuel all to herself and said, “Well, God probably doesn’t really need this little boy. He probably understands the stress that I was under when I made that promise.” But she doesn’t.
How many of us have ever been there in that moment where we’ve said, “Lord, if you will just get me out of this, if you will just help me through the situation, if you’ll just do this one thing for me, I will do this for you”? Often we kind of back out on those things we told the Lord we would do. But Hannah doesn’t.
Instead, once he was weaned she surrendered him to Eli for service to God. I cannot imagine what Hannah was going through. She was so thankful. The Lord has blessed her with the child, and she turned that blessing back to the Lord for his glory. What emotions must have been there at that moment? Can you even fathom the thoughts she was having and the battle going on within? But she surrenders him to the Lord and dedicates him to serving God, not for just a time but for his life.
As a young boy Samuel hears his name being called and rushes to Eli’s room to find out what he needs. But Eli tells him to go back to bed, “I didn’t call you.” It happened two more times until Eli realized the Lord was calling to Samuel, so he instructs him to respond when the Father calls again.
Eli, who is a prophet, was a great judge and counselor, and it was his job to tell Samuel how to respond to the Father. Part of our pastor’s job is to tell us how to respond to the Father. And it’s our job as Christians to tell others how to respond to the Father. When you hear God calling your heart, what do you do?
First Samuel 3:19-21 says, “Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again in shallow, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in shallow by the word of the Lord. So Samuel became a servant unto the Lord.”
He was instrumental in leading the people back to God from the Philistines, which was also Samson’s job
In 1 Samuel 7:3, “ And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, if you do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods . . . from among you and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only he will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.”
Samuel told them to “ . . . return to the Lord with all your hearts. Put away your strange gods and prepare your hearts.” Samuel was encouraging the Israelites, God’s children, to reflect who God was with their actions. We’re talking about our actions, the desires of our hearts not being turned towards God.
When our desires are not focused on what is going to glorify God, they lead to sin and destruction. He told them to put away their strange gods, the idols they worshiped.
What idols are we worshiping?
What are the things that we’re putting before God.
Sometimes it’s our job.
Sometimes it’s money,
Sometimes it’s our phone and social media.
Sometimes it’s person that we’re putting before God.
But God has to come first. He has to be number one in our lives.
The Israelites’ lifestyles looked just like the heathen world around them. There was nothing different about them. How could they be called God’s children when they didn’t worship him or love him? We can look a lot like the world around us; our desires can be that of the world instead of what’s pleasing to God. That’s a tough thing and something that steps on our toes.
Samuel is an excellent example of who we are to be, so we’re sanctified for God. We’re to be set apart for his service and glory, not for our own desires and our own will, Sanctified and surrendered completely, used for God’s purpose and leading others back to him. When I look back at my past the things that I regret most are my actions that led others astray. Would you agree?
There’s probably multiple things that I’ve done in my past that might have caused somebody else to stumble.
They may have looked at me and said, “Well, she’s a Christian and she’s doing it so does it make a difference if I do it?
Or maybe I gave worldly advice instead of really pointing them to Scripture.
Or maybe I didn’t say anything. Maybe they just saw me out at a place I shouldn’t have been.
Or maybe they saw me involved with a crowd of people I probably shouldn’t have been involved in. Those are the things I think about now:
My decisions on the places that I go, the people I’m with my decisions what movies I watch, what music I listen to and books I read.
I can fill it with lots of stuff from this world and there’s funny stuff out there. I notice that after a while, bad things go in and bad things go out. All of a sudden you start thinking there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s no big deal. We become desensitized to the wrong things of this world. There are many Christians who love God but don’t hate sin so we turn to that sin with a lustful heart instead of turning to the Lord.
Do our actions really tell the story of Jesus and his power to change us?
Do the things that we take part in, the things that we do on a daily basis, show people that we have been changed by God?
Or are we holding on to parts of the past that we need to let go?
Can we truly be sanctified until we let go?
Can we really be set apart for God and for his glory and his purpose until we let go of that stuff.
Are we really surrendered to his will in our lives even when it hurts, even when we don’t think it’s the best thing for us, or even when we have to lay it down and walk away?
Sanctified and surrendered mean being completely used for God’s purpose in leading others back to him. That’s our goal. I have to admit I don’t always do that. It’s hard to recognize that if you have something you know you need to let go of, or maybe there’s something you know you’re doing or you’re a part of that is not pleasing to the Lord.
There are many things I’ve let go I knew were not pleasing to God, and it’s only by his grace and mercy that I’m even here, and I’m thankful for that. It starts with us. We have to be honest with ourselves.
You might even be thinking of a child, a brother or sister, a friend who says they’re a Christian but don’t really live like it. How can we be better examples instead of saying they need to change, to do it another way.
The Holy Spirit has to do that work in their lives ; I can only set the example and pray. Who is that someone and what does God need you to do for him or her?
Like the night I was looking at the valley behind our house . . . We have no power within ourselves to produce light; we are simply a reflection of him.
But do our lives shine and point to Jesus as the source of light in our lives?