Spiritual Training

Spiritual Training X2

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March 20 - Morning

“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 
The people of Gaza were told, ‘Samson is here!’
So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, At dawn we’ll kill him.’
But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.”

- Judges 16:1-4

The Gates of Gaza


Later in his twenty year career as “judge” of Israel Samson is still hanging out in Philistia, this time in one of the Philistine’s major cities, Gaza. Why? Is Samson so attracted to the Philistines that he cannot stay away? Is Samson so shunned by his own people for being a nonconformist that he has no social life in Israel? Surely, this was not God’s best plan for this man who had been anointed from a birth that had been announced by the Angel of the Lord?…hang out in Philistia, live like a Philistine, use the Pagan prostitutes and then rip up their city gates like a juvenile painting graffiti? Could this not have been another Joshua story or a victory account like David’s life?

There does appear to be a two sided attack in this story: one, against the Philistines in Gaza, and the second, against the people of Judah in Hebron (who had betrayed him for stirring up trouble with the Philistines in Judges 15:11-12). After spending time with the prostitute Samson rips up Gaza’s city gate after apparently walking (or, fighting) his way through the troops that had surrounded the prostitute’s house to wait for Samson make his exit. Samson again demonstrates to the Philistines that he (and, the Lord) were not limited by the Philistine’s restraints and could do what they wanted, when they wanted.

By taking the gates of Gaza into Judah to be displayed outside of Hebron for everyone in Judah to see, the Lord was announcing through Samson that the tribe of Judah, that they would have to answer to the Philistines for this action. Judah wanted compromise, but Lord would not let them rest peacefully under Philistine oppression. Samson’s motive was not to urge Judah to respond to their divine calling, but he was taunting them merely for personal vengeance for their betrayal and lack of support.

Samson carried the gates “to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” The first hill outside of Hebron would be Jebel Jalis which sets 39 miles from Gaza outside Hebron on the west side or the mountain of Halhoul to the north of Hebron. Since Samson would have carried the gates 39 miles from sea level at Gaza up 3,040 feet above sea level to Hebron, some try to explain this Herculean feat by say Samson only took the lock and key of the Gaza gate to Hebron or that Samson took the gate of Gaza outside the city of Gaza and set it on one of the first hills facing Hebron, but did not carry them 39 miles away to set them on a hill outside of Hebron. But, this feat is possible for Samson if he would have ripped up the posts and the hinged wooden doors covered in metal plates that swung on the posts, as the context of the text likely indicates, and carried them through the night and into the next day.

Either way, the carrying off the gates of Gaza was a declaration of war against the Philistines assigned by Samson to the tribe of Judah.  Israel’s warrior tribe had been handed the responsibility for further military interaction with the Philistines. The Lord had said that Samson would, “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” The rest would be up to the tribe of Judah.
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Tsaba (Hb) – Army (Eng) – tsaba is the Hebrew word where several idea s come together including “a group,” “a difficult task,” and “to force into action.” These concepts come together to give the Tsaba the meaning of “service as a group” and is applied in the military sense. It is used as “host” (including angelic host) in military service, war or as an army. Tsaba also is used to communicate “work,” or “a labor force,” “forced labor,” Tsaba can even be translated as “conflict.”
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I will consider hardships as an opportunity to allow the power and truth of the Lord to be revealed to me and manifested in my life for others to witness and glorify God.



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Bible Reading Descriptions Here

Narrative

Complete Text

General Text




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Personal

Children's education

Church

Spiritual Warfare understanding and victory
Government reform
Bulgaria



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This is a view of the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat in the Negev in southern Judah. (Details. Photos.)
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Details of the Church of Heptapegon which honors the traditional site where Jesus multiplied the bread and fish.




Someone to Quote

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"In the decade of the 1980s, a massive and comprehensive study of religion in American life was undertaken by the Gallup organization. …
The results of the study were as terrifying as they were revealing.…
Americans, even evangelical Americans, are woefully ignorant of the content of Scripture and even more ignorant of the history of Christianity and classical Christian theology." 

- R. C. Sproul

Something to Ponder

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In 1998 25% of the world’s Christians were Pentecostal/Charismatic or a total of 450 million.
67% of those Pentecostals/Charismatics live in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are growing at 19 million per year.
These numbers and this growth indicate that Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity will be a force in the next millennium.
Because of this growth Christianity is now bigger in South Korea than Buddhism. (more)

Here’s a Fact

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Governor Pliny the Younger writes to Emperor Trajan around 110 AD concerning Christians in his jurisdiction. Pliny mentions these practices concerning early Christians in Asia Minor: - Followers of Christ gather early in the morning - They responsively sing a song to Christ as if to a God. - They vow not to commit theft, robbery, adultery, lie or fail to pay their bills - assembled latter to partake of a meal - they are common and harmless people (Details here and here. See the content of the letter here and here)

Proverb

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"The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts." - Proverbs 20:27

Coach’s Corner

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The greatest life is the life that makes the greatest sacrifice serving others.

Numbers 12
New International Version (NIV)
Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,     I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,     I speak to them in dreams.

But this is not true of my servant Moses;     he is faithful in all my house.

With him I speak face to face,     clearly and not in riddles;     he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid     to speak against my servant Moses?”
The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.
16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.
Judges 15
New International Version (NIV)
Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines
15 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.
“I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”
Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.
When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.”
So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death.
Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”
“We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”
11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”
He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.”
12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
16 Then Samson said,
“With a donkey’s jawbone     I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone     I have killed a thousand men.”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.
18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.
20 Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
Deuteronomy 28
New International Version (NIV)
Blessings for Obedience
28 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
Curses for Disobedience
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.
17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.
18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.
20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. 21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.
30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.
38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.
43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.
45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.
53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.
58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.
64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68 The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

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