I have been preaching a sermon series titled “Flannelgraph Faith” and I would like to share some truths from this series.
Do you remember when you were a kid in Sunday school and your teacher would have cookies and juice for you? And she would teach you the great stories of the Bible, often using those colorful and beautiful flannelgraph images to bring to life those wonderful stories of the faith. Across this land, children learned about the virgin birth of Jesus and the courage of the disciples in the New Testament and about creation and the great prophets of the Old Testament.
Those stories stick with us. What a joy it is to recollect those wonderful times of discipling. Those stories are still just as vibrant and inspiring today. In our series, I recently taught on Samson. His flannelgraph image showed him with big muscles and a great mane of hair. In Judges 13:1, we read about what was going on at the birth of Samson. It reads, “Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years” (NKJV).
Israel had again forgotten God and they needed a judge to lead them. And so before Samson was born, God sent an angel to Samson’s mother, who was barren, and he told her that she would have a son that God would use to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.
Go back to your days in Sunday school. Do you remember the specifications that the angel gave Samson’s mother? Let’s recount them: (1) Samson can never cut his hair; (2) he can never touch grapes or wine; (3) he can never eat unclean food. These rules were to set apart Samson from Israel, which had forgotten its birthright. And in Judges 13, we see the Spirit of God begins to develop and shape Samson for the specific purpose he was being called to.
As it frequently is throughout history, as a young man, Samson got sidetracked by temptation and soon he voided the rules. He got involved in bad situations and later killed a bunch of Philistines. Samson was on the brink of terrible failure when it got even worse: he met Delilah and she tricked him and cut his hair, so that his power was gone. Then the Philistines blinded him and put him into captivity.
The one whom God had called to a special life had been destroyed. Or had he? After a time, Samson called out to God and God again placed His power within Him. At a celebration, Samson pushed the pillars away from the temple and the walls collapsed, killing him and thousands of Philistines.
Now in Sunday school, this is a great lesson in obeying God. But my Falwell Confidential readers are generally older, so I think we can delve a little deeper into this story. What I want to point out is this: God had a design, a holy plan for Samson even before he was born. And here’s the clear point I want you to see: God also designed you with a clear purpose for service to Him.
Let’s look at Ephesians 2:10, which reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” You are a masterpiece created by Almighty God, dear friend. This is a promise of God and we know His promises always have a purpose.
Here’s the sticking point: God’s promises can be derailed by our actions. Every day, we have choices to make. Will we yield to temptation or allow ourselves to be careless in our testimony? Or will we spend time in prayer and fellowship with God and follow His promises with a clear purpose to please Him in all we do? It’s a daily choice, a daily battle. Samson failed, but God did not forget Him. No matter where you are today, God wants you to flourish in Him. If you know the Lord as Savior, you are designed with a purpose in Christ Jesus. What a promise. What a Savior!