Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Satan has tried to deceive us into believing that the choices make will not harm us in the future. But history proves that choices we make can have dire consequences

In a recent issue of Preaching Today (Sept/Oct 1998), Dr. Brian Harbour related the following story. Dr. Harbour, pastor of FBC Richardson and Dr. Duane Brooks, pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, were in Waco attending a Baylor Regents meeting. They were on the elevator and were going to the new Student Life Center to work out before dinner. Harbour said, “As usual, I was busy talking to Duane and not noticing anything or anyone around me. He realized that Dr. Brooks wasn’t listening to him, but, rather, he was staring at an African American gentleman who was standing in the center of the elevator. As the elevator came to a stop and the door opened, Brooks said to the gentleman, “Are you who I think you are?”

Harbour said, that when Brooks asked that question, he looked up to see James Earl Jones standing right beside him – within inches of him, on the elevator. He said, “I’ll never forget his answer.’ You know the voice. “Yes, my name is Jones.” That’s the voice of Darth Vader. That’s the voice we all know from Alex Haley’s Roots. James Earl Jones is “The Voice” (51 movies, including Clear and Present Danger, Hunt for Red October,

Field of Dreams, Return of the Jedi, The Sandlot, Patriot Games, $1.5 billion in revenue;

the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King.)

Now, what are the chances of standing six inches from James Earl Jones in an elevator in Waco? Harbour said he wanted to ask, “What’s a person like you doing in a place like this?”

Perhaps the real question is not, “What’s a person like you doing in a place like this?”

Perhaps the real question is Duane Brook’s first question to James Earl Jones: “Are you who I think you are?”

Sometimes the question, “What’s a person like you doing in a place like this?”

has embarrassing implications. It did for Samson, and it did for a man named Bill.

Let me tell you a true a story about a man we’ll just call Bill. Everyone was shocked when they heard that Bill had died. It was not the fact that he had died that was so shocking. We’re all going die. Everyone will eventually go through the valley of the shadow of death. Nor was it the way he died that was so shocking. He died of a heart attack – a common cause of death in our country. The shocking thing was where he died.

He died in a porno place, a store that featured pornographic material, videos, and even live “models.” That may not seem so shocking. But, when you learn that this man was an active member of a prominent church, a married man, and a Christian, it is beyond shocking. He had a heart attack and he had it in a porno place.

As people discussed the event, the question was expressed over and over again:

“What was a person like him doing in a place like that?”

The two questions walk hand-in-hand:

• “What is a person like you doing in a place like this?” and

• “Are you who I think you are?”

You remember the story of Samson, one of the judges of Israel. He judged Israel for two decades. He was a miracle boy. Manoah and his wife had hoped for a baby for so long.

The announcement of the birth of Samson comes from a divine messenger. Israel is in spiritual decline, and everybody was doing what was right “in their own eyes.” The announcement of Samson’s coming birth was accompanied by instructions from the angelic messenger, the angel of the Lord. Manoah’s wife was to have no wine. She was not to eat anything ceremoniously unclean. And her son’s hair must never ever – never ever be cut.

All this is a sign that Samson is going to be consecrated, or set apart for God.

But as you fast forward to the end of Samson’s life – a life that began with so much promise, a life that began really in a divine way by divine pronouncement – you find a very sad story. See Samson now. He’s just like an ox. He pushes the grinder that turns the grain into flour.

Look at Judges 16:21 READ. You see Samson pushing the grinder like an ox, moving the millstone, and you want to say, “Samson, what’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?”

Fast forward even more to the final day of his life. The Philistines called Samson out in order to humiliate him. They think Dagon, their god, has been more powerful than the God of Samson because Samson has been delivered into their hands. They made sport of Samson, blind as he was. He was like a circus bear being baited. He is mocked and provoked. And so is his God.

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