READ: Judges 1-2
THINK: How well do you follow instructions? When you get a new gadget, do you read the manual, or do you just try to figure it out on the fly? When someone is describing a process do you tend to tune out and disregard the details? While this may seem like no big deal, passing off instructions can leads to big problems. When it comes to God's guidelines, failing to follow through can have disastrous consequences. Partial obedience usually leads to complete chaos and repeated rebellion brings persistent problems and eventual punishment.
RESPOND: Who were the judges, when did they serve and how did God use them? (See 1:1 and 2:16 notes.) Why did the victorious Israelites cut off King Adoni-Bezek's thumbs and big toes? (See 1:6 note.) Why did the king himself recognize this as a fitting punishment (1:7)? Why do people's own actions often determine the judgment they experience? Why do you think the Israelites were able to drive out most, but not all, of the Canaanites (1:19,21,27,29,31)? What advantage did the Israelites seem to get from allowing some Canaanites to remain in the land (1:28,30,33)? How did this apparent advantage eventually lead to the Israelites downfall? (See 1:28 note.) In order to enjoy the benefits of God's covenant, what were the Israelites supposed to do and not do in regard to the Canaanites (2:2)? How did the Israelites respond to these commands, and what happened as a result? (See 2:1; 2:2 and 2:3 notes.) How can failing to rid our lives of questionable things lead to trouble down the road? (See 2:3 note.) When one generation compromises their relationship with God and fails to follow Him wholeheartedly, what typically happens with the next generation? (See 2:10 note.) What factors caused Israel to repeatedly turn from God? (See 2:17 note.) Why do you think God's people throughout history have had difficulty remaining faithful? (See 2:19 second note.) What do you think makes the difference between those who turn from God and those who stay true to Him?
PRAY: Pray for God's help in carrying out His plans completely, not partially. Give God thanks for His mercy, and commit to not abusing that mercy by taking it for granted and repeatedly neglecting God's instructions.
ACT: Do your attitudes, conversations, behaviors and activities set a good example for younger generations or anyone who may get their view of a Christian from what they see in you? Make a conscious effort to give people an accurate impression of Jesus, whether or not you actually talk about spiritual issues. Also, do something practical to encourage a younger Christian's faith or encourage his or her ministry involvement.
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