Character to Meet the Call

Keith Holloway

In chapters 14, 15 and 16 of Judges, we’re shown how Samson lived his life. Now he knew that he was set apart by God for specific work. The way he lived, however, shows that he struggled with character.

When we go to Hebrews, we see “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 12:32-33, ESV).

Samson knew full well that he had a holy calling on his life. He is named in the “Hall of Faith” because he knew that he didn’t have any strength of his own to accomplish these great feats. Despite this, he lived loosely.

There is no evidence in the four chapters about his life that he prayed, except once right before he died. He didn’t settle any disputes between people; he didn’t engage with any rulers; he didn’t lead Israel into battle.

Instead, Samson lived a self-indulgent lifestyle, often revolving around a woman. During his wedding, he killed thirty men and took their clothing to fulfill a bet. He seemingly abandoned his wife, and when he discovered that she’d remarried, he burned several of the Philistines’ fields. Then we find him with his head in Delilah’s lap. The Philistines captured him, cut his hair and put his eyes out. God, in his grace and mercy, still gave Samson supernatural strength once more to defeat Israel’s enemies.

This is the same with us. Who among us has a perfect record? God gives us grace and mercy in our time of need. I believe there was so much more that God wanted to do with Samson’s life, though, if only his character had come into alignment with his calling. His story is a warning for us to be mindful of how we live our lives.

Is your character developing according to your natural self? Are you gratifying your own impulses and desires? Or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you with the character of Christ? Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)?

We will never completely fulfill God’s purpose for our lives until we become men and women of prayer who seek the will of God wholeheartedly. Oh friends, I pray that our characters grow toward the holy calling of God in our lives.

The God Who Is Near

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When the Lord takes up residence in us, he brings with him all his power and resources. Suddenly, our inner man has access to God’s strength, wisdom, truth, peace, everything we need to live in victory. We don’t have to cry out to him to come down to us from heaven. He’s already in us. Paul tells us just how powerful we are in Christ.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19, NKJV).

What an amazing passage. Paul lists but a few of the incredible treasures the Lord has made available to us. Indeed, all of God’s riches are available to us in Christ Jesus. 

Some Christians have created an image of a self-centered God whose only pleasure is in receiving praise. May that never be said about our Lord because that isn’t at all why he has come to abide in us. He has come to show us that he’s a God who is not far off. The Lord wants us to know he isn’t just out in the dark expanse of the cosmos somewhere. He doesn’t flit in and out of our lives at will. No, he’s very present in us, and he never leaves his abode in us.

This is how Jesus could tell his disciples, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:22-23).

When the Father made his dwelling in our temple, he brought to us a strength in our inner man, a deep rooting and grounding in love, as well as access to ask him for all things. He has made all things possible through his divine power at work in us.

Where Does God Dwell?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

After Jesus was taken up to heaven, the apostle John received a magnificent vision of glory. He said, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:22-23, NKJV). In other words, the only temple in heaven is Jesus himself.

Now that God’s temple is in glory, sitting at his right hand, where does the Lord dwell on earth? We know that no building can contain God. As God himself says, “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). Paul echoes this in the New Testament, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). If we look for God’s dwelling place in some building, we’re not going to find it.

Paul gives us our answer: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Lord lives and rests in the bodies of his created humankind.

Once we place our belief in Jesus, we become God’s very dwelling place. This was demonstrated most visibly at the Upper Room. The Holy Spirit fell on the disciples there, filling them with himself. He claimed their sanctified bodies as God’s temple where the Father would come and live. The Spirit would help them to mortify and destroy the works of their sinful flesh, and he would give them power to live victoriously. Their bodies became God’s temple, a dwelling place not built with hands.

Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). In other words, you belong to God, and he wants you to be his resting place.

Dear believers, give God glory by opening up your heart to the truth that you are his temple on earth.

The Promised Possession of God’s People

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In a confusing and contradictory-seeming passage, God gave the Old Testament patriarch Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8, NKJV).

You might think while reading this, “How could God promise Abraham’s descendants a permanent homeland? Surely Abraham must have known that the land in front of him wouldn’t last into eternity.” The New Testament even tells us that the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth. Was this promise of an “everlasting possession” to Abraham some kind of trick? It couldn’t be a mere piece of real estate. How could that be eternal?

The fact is that this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien. “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself. He could see the true significance of the land blessing, and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming redemption of God’s people, the safe haven that the Lord would invite his people into one day. Jesus himself said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). 

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest, and this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself.

The Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well, and God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.

Where Are the Timothys?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

It was to the Philippian Christians that Paul first introduced this truth, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV).

Paul wrote this message to them while he was imprisoned in Rome, declaring that he had the mind of Christ and casting aside his reputation to become a servant of Jesus and his church. Then he wrote, “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state” (Philippians 2:19).

This is the thinking, the outworking, of the mind of Christ. Here was a pastor, sitting in jail, yet he wasn’t thinking of his own hard situation. He was concerned only about the spiritual and physical condition of his people, and he told his sheep, “My comfort will come only when I know you’re doing well in spirit and body. As a result, I’m sending Timothy to check up on you.”

Then Paul makes this alarming statement: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state” (Philippians 2:20). What a sad statement! As Paul wrote this, the church around him in Rome was growing and being blessed. Clearly, there were godly leaders in the Roman church, but Paul says, “I have no man who shares with me the mind of Christ.” Why was this so?

Evidently, there was no leader in Rome with a servant’s heart, no one who had cast aside reputation and become a living sacrifice. None had the mind of Christ. Instead, everyone was set on pursuing his own interests. “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:21). Paul’s words here cannot be softened: “Everybody’s out for himself. These ministers seek only to benefit themselves. That’s why there’s nobody here I can trust to naturally care for your needs and hurts, except Timothy.” Paul could trust no one to go to Philippi to be a true servant to that body of believers.

Dear believers, let us be a Timothy to our church and community! Our prayer should be “Lord, I don’t want to be focused only on myself in a world that’s spinning out of control. I don’t want to be concerned only about my own future. I know you hold my path in your hands. Please, Lord, give me your mind. I want to have your servant’s heart.” Once we have become servants to the church, only then will we truly have the mind of Christ.