God – the Giver of Grace

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S (Scripture): Judges 13:1 The Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil, and he handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.

2 Now there was a certain man from Zorah, from the Danite clan, whose name was Manoah. His wife was unable to become pregnant and had not given birth to any children. 3 The Lord’s messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “Even though you’ve been unable to become pregnant and haven’t given birth, you are now pregnant and will give birth to a son! 4 Now be careful not to drink wine or brandy or to eat anything that is ritually unclean, 5 because you are pregnant and will give birth to a son. Don’t allow a razor to shave his head, because the boy is going to be a nazirite for God from birth. He’ll be the one who begins Israel’s rescue from the power of the Philistines.”

24 The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up, and the Lord blessed him. 25 The Lord’s spirit began to move him when he was in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

O (Observation): So the Lord’s messenger shows up. When this happens, something REALLY BIG & IMPORTANT is going on.

In case any of you sense that the Old Testament is all Law and the New Testament is all Gospel, know this: the Lord sending Samson is “Gospel”! When Jesus sends a messenger, reaching to help God’s people – that’s Gospel!

The Law is that God’s people have erred again and God has released the people from God’s protection. Now the Philistines are in charge. But the Gospel saves: God sends help…in the form of baby. (Hmmm? Where else have I heard that???)

A (Application): How often do we feel abandoned by God? We may fail to see that we have drifted from God and the promises God has made to us in our baptism. We fail to see how God has adopted us. We fail to see how God wishes to bring us life. We try to create new life for ourselves…but that so often backfires.

I’m someone who likes to try new things, because I think that God gives me ideas to enact. But sometimes the way I go about the “new thing” makes it all about ME and how I will bring the Gospel. (Oops!)

Instead, God finds a way to be patient or to act lightening quick…God finds a way to erode away my ego and pride to expose my need for God’s mercy and grace…God finds a way to bring someone into my life (like Samson for the Israelites) who will give me guidance and direction and hope.

Maybe we will see a messenger. Maybe we won’t. But God is still with us: Sending people into our lives to guide us; giving us sustenance in bread and wine; reminding us of how God claims us every time we touch and see water.

P (Prayer): Lord, remind us that you are always beside us. Amen.

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From Out of Nowhere


S (Scripture): Judges 13

1 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.  

2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 3 The Lord’s angelic messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “You are infertile and childless, but you will conceive and have a son. 4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. You must never cut his hair, for the child will be dedicated to God from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines.”

24 Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The child grew and the Lord empowered him. 25 The Lord’s spirit began to control him in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

O (Observation):  Israel goes back and forth between doing good and doing evil in the sight of the Lord.  This is part of how they operated for hundreds of years after the Exodus. 

Today is an example of God intervening for God’s people, regardless of their strength or devotion to the Lord.  The Lord always remembers the promise that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Like a parent to a wayward child, God’s love is shown here. 

And who will help rescue them?  Not their great army, but God will rescue them, through Samson.   

A (Application): Sometimes, we just can’t find the strength or the will power to go on.  And in those times, we rely on the Lord.  

As I look back at my life, I see many people who rescued me from pain, from suffering, from my own stupidity.   These people came to me in the form of my parents, my wife, all of my family, my friends, my church family…

I can feel inundated with work or family issues.  I can feel like I don’t have enough time in the day for things to get done, or not enough money to make certain things happen.  

So many times, I wonder: “How am I going to make it?”  

And I try to think about texts like today’s.  God’s people were up to no good, but God chose to rescue them anyway.   Maybe I can see it around me.  Maybe I’m blind to God’s hand.  Either way, I know God’s got me.  

And finally, I can be at peace. 

P (Prayer):  Lord, rescue us again from our own faults.  Amen.