READ: Judges 14-16
THINK: The story of Samson has all the elements of a dramatic adventure: a powerful hero, a seductive mistress, a crushing betrayal, and a bittersweet victory. The account can be so captivating that we may lose sight of its main purpose: to portray the destructive consequences of carelessness in our commitment to God and relying on our own strength instead of His. Samson is a prime example of how foolish choices and a reckless lifestyle can rob you of spiritual strength and victory. Considering Samson's story causes us to evaluate the quality of our own decisions. His character flaws and repeated mistakes highlight our need to rely on God. So ask yourself, "Have I been making wise or poor decisions?" "What mistakes do I make over and over again?" "What will it take for me to stop falling into the same traps?" Getting honest with yourself and God about these issues will take you on a more fulfilling journey with God and bring you closer to accomplishing His ultimate purpose for your life.
RESPOND: What were some of Samson's fatal mistakes? (See 14:3 note, subpoints 1-4.) In what ways did Samson choose pleasure over principle and use God-given power for personal gain? As God's Spirit empowered Samson physically, how does the Holy Spirit empower Christians spiritually? (See 14:6 note.) What were Samson's motives for his acts of vengeance on the Philistines? (See 15:7 note.) Did God's empowerment in Samson's life mean that God approved of Samson's actions? Why or why not? (See 15:14 note.) Did Samson ever succeed in freeing Israel from Philistine oppression? Why or why not? (See 15:20 note.) How did Samson's lusts lead to his downfall? (See 16:1 note.) Why do you think Samson continued to confide in Delilah regarding the secret of his strength despite her persistent dishonesty? Why do people tend to repeat their mistakes? Why do you think that Samson was unaware that "the Lord had left him"? (See 16:20 note.) How do we run the same risk by compromising with the world and being reckless in our faith? How does Samson's life serve as an example and a warning to us? (See 16:20 note.) How can unwise choices undermine your spiritual strength and compromise your relationship with God?
PRAY: Ask God to help you put His principles ahead of your pleasure. Pray that you won't abuse God's benefits by using them for self-serving purposes. Ask God to help you learn from your mistakes.
ACT: Is there anything about your present lifestyle or recent choices that could be considered self-serving or spiritually reckless? Have you failed to learn from mistakes? Are you doing things that have caused you trouble in the past? If so, humbly ask God to forgive you, then start doing what will help you fulfill God's highest purposes for your life. List two or three strengths God has given you and write several ways each could be used to advance God's purposes.
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