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TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, January 23, 2022 | A Meaningful Life Series | 

Samson’s First Prayer

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I've been out, uh, traveling this, um, preaching at, uh, some churches and to staff and things like that. On Tuesday night, I was preparing to speak the next day, multiple times. And when I went to sleep that night, um, I just really felt like the Lord woke me up and uh, I'm not trying to sound super spiritual or overly eccentric. It was just kind of one of those moments where you knew like, Hey man, the Lord's dealing with me and God began to deal with me about the passage of text that I'm gonna take as my anchor text this morning. And so I, I, I do feel like that this is something that God wants to encourage somebody with. And I hope that, um, I'll be able to deliver it with, with his help this morning judges chapter 15, verse 18.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

We're gonna continue in this series that we've been in just simply calling a meaningful life, a meaningful life. And then he speaking of Sampson and then Sampson became very thirsty. So he cried out to the Lord and said, you have given this great deliverance by the hand of your servant. And now I shall die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised enemy. So then he became thirsty and he cried out to God and said, you gave me a deliverance. He gave me a great victory, but now I'm going to die of thirst heaven. Father helped me to preach, help me to teach, help me to share your word and help me to do it God, with an anointing that makes this moment rich and real God push back darkness with the light of your word, Lord, lets your kingdom come, lets you will be done.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

We surrender ourselves to you today, Lord in Jesus name and this church said, amen. Amen. Amen. Um, I, I have been in some semblance of full-time ministry for uh, 23 years. I've been pastoring this church as the founding pastor for 21 years. And in that timeframe, I've not only had the privilege to preach to I, our church's congregations multiple times each Sunday and sometimes even multiple times each week, but I I've also had the chance to, to travel and speak in other settings and share in different conferences and um, revival services and church services. And so now I've, I've had the chance to stand behind a pulpit somewhere north of 7,000 times. And in everything that's come with that I've had the chance to meet a lot of people and interact with a lot of different people. And as I've shared with you repetitively over the course of the last few weeks, one of the things that has just become an increased sing cry of my heart is that I want to be a part of something that is meaningful.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And I know that you share that conviction. I think all of us are done wasting our time. Amen. Amen. And if the pandemic has taught us anything it's that tomorrow may not resemble that's right. And things can change instantly. And so in having a meaningful life, you want to establish meaningful connections. And so one of the things that I've observed over the years is like, who, who is it that it really has the goods like, like as you're interacting with people and you're connecting with people like who is it that seems to be truly authentic. And, and I've discovered even in meeting with perceived great leaders, there are some of them that are extremely superficial and you begin very quick to realize there is something missing, something is off here. Something is not right at the same time, there are others that you meet and you're like, wow, this man, this woman, they are the real deal. There is something meaningful about their relationship with God and their relationship with others. And you just discover that there's a true authenticity in them that you, you crave not only to connect further with, but to have in your own life. And as I've witnessed that over and over again, over the years, one of the discoveries that I have made is that the most authentic men and women of God that I have ever met have always had one thing in common every single time.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

They pray. In fact, some of those leaders, when you connect with them about their entity or their sphere of influence or even their business endeavors, they will drag you out of bed early in the morning and invite you to pray and expose you to the fact that if you're gonna have a ringside seat for what God is doing in their life and how it is that they're living such a meaningful life, you're gonna have to discover that it all from a place of prayer over and over again, that has been my experience. And as I think about just this concept of prayer, I think about some of the great Christian leaders throughout the course of history and some of the statements that they have made on the subject to prayer. For instance, there's a man by the name of John bunion. And, uh, he was a great author.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

He wrote a book called the pilgrims progress. It is considered to be a timeless classic. This is his statement. He said, he who runs from God in the morning, will scarcely find him the rest of the day? George, me Mueller, great evangelist, great missionary. He said this, he was asked how many hours a day or how much time per day did he spend in prayer? He said, I spend hours every day, but I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and I pray when I lie down and I pray when I arise and the answers are always coming. One of the things that Mueller was trying to teach there is not necessarily that we always have to be locked away in a private chamber for hours on end, but we can actually learn how to pray. Always that we can develop an attitude of prayer that is associated with anything and everything that we do. Martin Luther, the great reformer. He said this about prayer. He said, if I neglect prayer, but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of my faith.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Pray as we get ready to move into the text that we're gonna evaluate this morning, I wanna give you of visualization. And, and, and I want you to just kind of think through this and visualize this with me, heard the story of a man who in his childhood home, one of his fondest memories was the well of water that was in the backyard. And as a child, he remembered going out when he would get thirsty. And he would draw from that well, and it was so cold and it was so pure and it was so refreshing, but as time progressed and the house would be modernized, they would bring in electricity. They would bring in indoor plumbing. And so the well was no longer accessed or used as often even he himself, as he would move into his grown up years, the family would sell that home.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But after he became successful, one of the things he wanted to do is he wanted to repurchase that home. So he reacquires the house. And upon arriving there, the first thing that he did is he went into the backyard and he found the well, and he began to, to try to draw water from it. But what he discovered is that there was no water left in it. It was completely dried up. And he was absolutely baffled by this because he remembered as a child that even when there were extended periods of drought and times without rain, the well ever went dry. So how is it that now when it hasn't been used for years, that it has went dry, he, he began to reach out to some of the local neighbors and inquire about why this might have happened. And what he discovered is that the Wells in this particular community, they, they were watered by underground streamlets and the way it would work is that when you would draw water out of the, well, the water would refuel through these little streamlets.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

However, if you ever, if you stopped drawing water, then the streamlets would become muddy and they would get clogged and water would cease to flow. So the only way that you could keep the well working is you had to drawing from it. You had to keep pulling from it. I want you to think about that this morning, as we revisit this passage from Sampson. And one of the things I wanna point out to you is that Sampson, you may be familiar with him. He is considered to be perhaps the strongest man that ever lived in all of human history. He did incredible exploits of strength in the Bible. But the thing that sticks out about Samsung's life is that when you evaluate him, you can only find two times in the entire Bible that he has ever recorded as having prayed strongest man full of power.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And only two times you can find him praying. And that's intriguing because scripture actually shows his life all the way from birth to his death. And only two times that he pray today. We're gonna talk about the first prayer and next week, we're gonna talk about the second prayer, the first prayer judges, 1518, and then Sampson became very thirsty. So he cried out to the Lord. Then he said, you have given this great deliverance by the hand of your servant. And now I shall die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised enemy. Well, let's get some context. What kind of victory has he experienced? Sampson is out in a wilderness like environment. And he finds out that the enemy is going to attack him to the tune of 1000 soldiers coming against him. And as these thousand soldiers are advancing the way that Sampson approaches it is, he sees that there is a fresh Jawbone of a donkey laying on the ground.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

He reaches down, he picks it up and he begins to fight and with nothing in his hand, but a Jawbone, he becomes victorious. Then I begin to think in, reflect on how that reflects so many of our lives and things that we've been through in the last few months and the things that we've been through in the last few years, there, there are those of you. You come to the immediate understanding, nobody picks a Jawbone. If there's a sword available, nobody picks a Jawbone. If you can find a sphere or a knife or a bow and arrow, the only reason you pick a Jawbone is because you don't have anything else to work with. That's right. It's not necessarily what is desired, but it is what is available. And there are some of you that you feel like you have been in the fight of your life, and you have been outnumbered at times, it felt like hundreds or a thousand to one.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And at the same time, you have continued to fight. Even with something that felt insufficient. It was as though it wasn't enough. It was as though it wasn't something that you were even going to be effective with. But because the spirit of God came up on you and the power of God came up on you. You have been able to prevail and you have been able to, and you have been able to advance. And it's not because of what was in your hand, but it was because God's hand was on your hand. And, and so I would like to commend you for fighting.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I'd like to celebrate the fact that you didn't quit. I'd like to celebrate the fact that you fought, even though what you didn't, what you had in your hand, didn't seem like it was enough. That's right. It wasn't enough money. It wasn't enough relationships. It wasn't enough networks. It wasn't enough connectivities, but you fought, you, you, you kept fighting sometimes with what felt like nothing more than the jaw bone of a donkey. You have fought. Here's what we discover that Samson fought with something that felt insufficient. Something that wasn't desirable, but was available and he wins a great victory. And the great victory is worth testifying about the victory is worth of celebrating the, the, the great victory you would think would, would make you feel overly excited to keep fighting. But on the other side of the fight, the way that Sampson describes his experience, he's just had this incredible spiritual victory, but he feels physically weak.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And this is what he says. He says, I've had a great victory, but man, I'm thirsty. And I just think that there's a lot of people that if they were to be truly transparent, they are thirsty. They they're thirsty. Despite the fact that there has been a victory, they're thirsty to fight despite the fact that they prevailed in places maybe where they weren't even expected to prevail. But, but it's been a while since you really had a drink of the spirit. Like you feel like you truly need, because when you look around, it's like, everything is dry and everything is dead and everything is hollow and everything is empty. And you're like, man, I'm really grateful for the victory. And I'm really grateful for the success. And I'm really grateful that I'm still standing. And I'm really grateful that I survived. The fact that a thousand fell at my left hand and 10,000 fell at my right hand. But if I'm honest, I'm tired.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

If I'm honest, I'm exhausted. If I'm honest, I'm thirsty. And I think that that scenario describes a lot of people coming into 2022, because there are many of you that typically when you come into a new year, you get excited about new year's resolutions. You get excited about new vision. You get excited about the possibility for change. And this year it's like, wow, I survived 2021. And that in and of itself was something. And you're excited about the fact that you survived it, but you are struggling to be excited about moving forward and inside of you, there's something that's thirsty. There's something that's dry. There's something that's parched. There's something that you don't even know how to explain of. Like, how could I have had that kind of a victory and at the same time feel this way. And the thing that we discover about Sampson is that he begins to pray.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

He begins to cry out. In fact, this is the first time that Sampson is ever recorded as praying. It's the first time that he's ever recorded as crying out when he's dealing with thirst, it provoked this strong man to just go forward with God, with an abandoned and a desperation and, and just admit it, God, I'm thirsty. God, I'm so thirsty. I I'm. So internally dehydrated that if you don't do something for me, I'm not gonna survive. And scripture says that in the middle of this, the, the ground, the, this hollow place, this empty place in the ground broke a forth and on the, and water began to gush out. And scripture literally says that he drank from it and he was revived. And if it's amazing to me that the revival came from an empty place, that the revival came from a hollow place, that the revival came from a dry place, a wilderness place, a desert place.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It, it came from a place you wouldn't expect it. And I feel like maybe there's somebody that needs to know that you cannot disqualify where the Revival's gonna come from. You can't disqualify the fact that it may come from a place that you don't expect. It, it may come from a hollow place, empty place, because God allows the thirst to remind you that the Jawbone only worked because of him. And I think sometimes we, we can become successful and we can do things of significance and we can move from one level to the next level. And, and we can have some victories. And if we're not careful, we start thinking that we're really good at the fight. And we're pretty good with this job on, in our hand. And we're pretty good at taking nothing and turning it into something. But, but then when you get thirsty, you're reminded, oh, wait a second.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

The only reason I was able to do that with that job on is because I shook myself and the power of God came up on me even when I didn't deserve it. And so you get thirsty in the physical to remind you that it was God that did it in the spiritual, and it drives you back to say, God, I'm gonna need another drink. God, I'm gonna need another touch from your holy spirit. God, I'm gonna need you to provide something for me that I would not otherwise be able to have unless you got involved in my life. And so it comes outta the high place. It, it comes out of the empty place. It, it comes out of the desert place. And so I think that applies to some folks. I, I think if we're just bottom line, honest, there are people under the sound of my voice that you've been in a fight you've been in a fight for your life.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You've been outnumbered at times. It felt like there was no way you could win. It felt like what you had in your hand. Wasn't sufficient. And yet at the same time, somehow you are still standing and simultaneously you are thirsty. And I believe that today, God wants to feel that thirst blessed are the hungry and the thirsty for they shall be field, but you do not get field until you cry out of the thirst. At some point, you have to admit that you are thirsty. At some point, you gotta stop going through the motions of like, it's all good. I've got it all all together. And, and, and I get it. Like maybe this message isn't for everybody. But I think it's for somebody, because maybe there are those of us that we've got some things figured out about prayer. And there's some things that are happening in our life.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Where that right now we would say, well, preacher, I, I guess, I guess this is a good message for somebody, but I don't feel like I'm thirsty. Well, the thing that I would say to you, you will be, you will be. And so if this is not something that you draw from today, it's going to be something that you're gonna wanna revisit in your life and in your heart and in your journey, because there will be a moment where you are dry and you are parched and you are thirsty because if nothing else, God will allow it. Just to remind you that you have to have him in order to quench the driest parts of your life. It's just a reminder, just a reminder about God to have him. I gotta have him, but there's another side of this story. So this is one side.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

So let's flip the script and let's look at it from possibly a different angle, because it could mean everything that we just evaluated, but it also could mean something else you see? Uh, I, I don't think you can just read the Bible. I think you've got to read the Bible. And when you, the Bible, like there's stuff, that'll just kinda leap off the pages at you. And you'll, you'll be like, whoa, what does that mean? And why did that happen? And cause the Bible is not written like a newspaper. There is no word count that the author is trying to get to. They're not just filling up space. Like when something is in scripture, it always has meaning. And many times when there's something meta Foral, there is also something prophetic. And that God is trying to say something through what is happening there. That can have a deeper meaning in our life, if we'll just pay attention to it. And it's not that it is written about us, but it is that it is written to us. And so when you see stuff that is happening in Sampson's life, you made a there's stuff that has happened in your life, that you can then take as a point of prayer and learn something from it. And maybe even avoid some things that happen in guys like Sampson situation. Because if you read Sampson's story, it didn't end well, this guy's parents were all in for, for God.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

This was put into covenant before he was old enough to walk. This guy was raised in a house where he should have known better. And, and, and he still just keeps up and down and spiritually up and spiritually down. And one day on fire for God, it would seem, and the next day falling apart of the seams and one day in the right relationship and the next day in the wrong relationship. And we see it unfold from his life. From the time he's a baby to the, he's a grown man and he's dying in a fight, but here we are, where he is just thirsty and we find his first ever prayer. So here's what I see. I see a guy that is in a place that makes no sense to me.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

If you know, the enemy has got it out for you. And you know that you have the ability to fight in an uncommon way. Why in the world are you on the backside of a desert, in a place that is known to have no sustenance for life and no flowing water? Why would you allow the enemy to pin you in there? Why, why do you let yourself get in that situation to start with? I'll tell you why Sampson. You don't pray. Cause prayer would've told you don't go there to start with, but Samson, since there's no recorded prayer in your life fact, scripture records Sampson talking to Delilah more than it records him talking to God. Oh, so now here he is. And he's in this, he's in this place with nothing.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And he's so cocky that don't even bring a sword. He don't even bring a spear. He doesn't even prepare for the fight because he don't pray and had it not been for God's emergency bailout plan. He's got nothing in his hand to start with. But out of all the things that God could have left for him to pick up, God leaves the Jawbone of a donkey and nothing in scripture is by accident. See donkeys timeless in the understanding of what they represent. And they represent one thing above all else, stubbornness donkeys, do what donkeys want to do.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And you can beat a 'em and you can try to talk sense into 'em and you can try to bribe them and donkeys do what donkey want. And some of us, I can't get no help on a Sunday morning. I just a couple of wives, elbow, their husbands. I, no, Hey, like the donkey means something. What's the donkey doing dead out there. Why did the donkey die out there? I'll tell you why the Don died out there. Cuz he wouldn't listen to nothing. And he broke free from something that was trying to hold him back from his demise.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And he got loose in the middle of nowhere with no provision and no sustenance. And it cost him his life. And God is trying to get through to Sampson. You keep breaking loose. You keep going into areas. You're not supposed to be in hanging out with people. You're not supposed to be hanging out with Sampson. You are on a downward spiral Sampson. Your life is in a mess Sampson. Again, you've looked up and you are outnumbered and you are surrounded, but Sampson, I honor your mom and daddy's prayers cuz you ain't got enough sense to pray for yourself. So shake yourself and watch me get you out of this. And so Sam's mom and dad's prayers come through for him. And he is delivered in this situation. But at the same time, he, he comes to the other side of it and now he is thirsty and it's like, God is about to use this situ and where stubborn things go to die to get Sam's attention.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You're gonna need me. If you're gonna be sustained, you're gonna need me. If you're gonna survive, you're gonna need me. If you're gonna ever feel strong again, you're gonna need me. If you're gonna feel mighty enough to face tomorrow, even though you are victorious today, Hey Samson, I know that you're used to me bail you out, but you are gonna need a personal prayer life with me. If we're gonna get through this thing, they Samson wake yourself up and watch me. Watch me. I'm sorry. I felt like preaching just for a moment. I, because, because you can't just read the Bible. You got to read the Bible. Where did this happen at a place called Lehigh?

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Lehigh. Lehigh means Jawbone and most commentators believe that this place was named before Sampson got there. So now he's in the place of the Jawbone holding jaw on. If what is in your hand is not enough. It's usually a map for what God's trying to show you. And the thing that God is about to show Sampson is I know you think you're bad with that Jawbone in your hand, but watch what I can do with mine. And God took the Jawbone of earth and broke. It snapped that crevice in half and it sprung forth water and brought revival to a dry thirsty soul.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You know what God wants to do. God wants to visit the stubborn places in your life. The Bible says stubbornness is like a do tree. That's why God won't stand for it because you elevate self above his presence. God wants to visit the stubborn places in your life. And some of us that's our job. Oh, sorry. I'll just, I'll just move on <laugh> and he wants to break some things, not for our bad, but for our good. And he wants to bring a refreshing out of our life and into our life to where that we've not just got victory on the outside. We got refreshing on the inside. That's right. And it's one thing to celebrate all these things you've been victorious about and are over that are on the outside. But it's time to get some victory on the inside. Can I get a witness from somebody on a Sunday morning? It is time to get some victory on the inside. So, so I, I don't, I don't know whether the former or the latter is the correct interpretation of this text.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Maybe God's trying to say multiple things to his people. And if it resonates with you take the one that resonates. And if you've been fighting with something that felt insufficient, then my Lord keep fighting, celebrate the victory and let God refresh you. Cuz the thirst is nothing but a reminder. He's what it took to get here. And he's what it's gonna take to stay. But if you've been being stubborn, we may be talking about an entirely different scenario. And the only way we are going to get the victory and the refreshing that we need is if we are honest with ourselves and truth be told, most of us have probably been on both sides of this equation.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But thank God for grace that brings water outta rocks and refresh hollow, empty places. Am I making sense to anybody on a Sunday morning, come on, will you receive this word this morning? I'm gonna ask you just to bow your head, close your eyes. They're gonna play some music softly as they do. So I'm gonna give you a moment for personal reflection reflection. And I think we're I, the way I, I would like to approach this is just simply from the standpoint of I'm thirsty and it's between you and God. What that means for some of you, it may represent the first take on this text for others of you. It may represent the second take, but the truth of it, ideas, we're probably all thirsty in one way or another, or we will be soon.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I really believe with all my heart that God wants to just quench from people's thirsts today. I mean, I believe it. He just wants to refresh you. He just wants to renew you. And so if you've been thirsty, maybe this is your moment just to lift your hand and just say, God refresh me. God revived me. God refreshed me. God revived me. Listen. It did not happen for Sampson until he cried out. And today, whichever side of this equation, you're on that's between you and God. But if you want to get your thirst quenched, you're gonna have to find the crevice of prayer and cry out a little bit. I've discovered that the volume of our cry will always be determined by the level of our desperation.

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

God, we're thirsty. I'm just gonna give you some time there with the Lord, seek him in your own way. Maybe, maybe your marriage is thirsty and the fight has fatigued. You maybe your business, even though you've tried to have kingdom principles and godly approaches and maybe even a part of your heart is to finance ministry and kingdom work. But it's a fight and you're thirsty. Maybe you're assignment in life. It the, the place where you've been positioned, you, you just feel so outnumbered and you want to do the right thing. You want to be right there where God wants you to be doing what God wants you to do. But you are just so thirsty. There have been some victories. You're grateful for those, but you're thirsty. And yet there are others of you head. If you're honest, man, there's just, just stubbornness. It's just, it's just kinda in your DNA. It is what it is, but today it's gonna be what you make it today. You're gonna pray today. You're gonna pray and God's gonna quench your thirst. God's gonna quench your thirst and he's gonna show you why you needed him all along on. Thank you, Jesus.

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