The First 21 of 2021
Judges ~ Chapter Fourteen

Morning Meditation
Read: Judges 14:1-20

"But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD -
that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines.
For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother,
and came to the vineyards of Timnah.
Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him.
And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him,
and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat,
though he had nothing in his hand.
But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done."
(Judges 14:4-6)

The children of Israel were married to the Lord at Sinai, and therefore were strictly prohibited from marrying outside of the family of God. "Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly" (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4). Samson's request for a wife from the daughters of the Philistines showed sinful defiance towards the Lord's commands and disrespect toward his parents. His actions typified the times he was living in: "...everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6b). Samson fell in love at first sight and allowed his romantic feelings to cloud his judgment. He was concerned only with satisfying his own sinful desires, rather than obeying the Lord's commands. "And Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well" (Judges 14:3). Samson chose to do what was right in his own eyes, rather than what was right in the sight of God. "And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken" (Deuteronomy 6:18, 19). Despite Samson's blatant disregard for tradition and his parents' attempts to warn him to choose otherwise, the Lord purposed to use him against the Philistines, though it came at great personal cost to himself. The moment he turned down the path into enemy territory to chase after "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes," Samson guaranteed his destruction. Samson placed himself in a position of compromise as he walked in the vineyard, took honey from the dead carcass, and drank at his wedding feast, which led to his defiling himself and violating his lifelong Nazirite vow of separation. Though he weakened himself exponentially by his disobedience, "the Spirit of The Lord came upon him mightily," enabling him to tear apart a lion (v. 6) and to kill the Philistines (v. 19). The Lord brought good for His people out of Samson's bad decisions, but Samson robbed himself of God's richest blessings for his life. If Samson would have chosen to walk by faith rather than sight, seeking the Lord's direction first in marriage, he would have experienced far less pain and accomplished far greater good. As Christians, we are instructed to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Our relationship with the Lord is our most important relationship. We rob ourselves of God's best for our lives, and weaken our relationships from the start, when we choose to align with, date, or marry someone who does not agree with the single most important decision we have made in this life. Prayer and fasting enables us, as believers, to awaken the spiritual appetite within by feeding it with the only food that matters - the Word of God - and helps us to discipline and subdue those fleshly appetites and passions that war within us daily, which lead to our making critical errors in our decision-making - from the food we eat to the company we keep. Let us pray for every member of the Body of Christ to renew their strength in this new year, by giving utmost priority to our most important relationship - Jesus Christ, our true Husband - by humbly responding to the call to prayer and fasting, so that the Spirit of the LORD will come mightily upon His people, leading His Church to walk the path of holiness and to keep our vow of separation from the world, and working within us and through us to accomplish His powerful soul-saving work in the hearts of mankind!

"Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it;
but he who does the will of God abides forever."
(1 John 2:15-17)

Afternoon Devotion
Judges 14:8-9

"After some time, when he returned to get her,
he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion.
And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion.
He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating.
When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate."
(Judges 14:8, 9)

Samson's life was a riddle, and himself a riddle-maker. He was an unarmed man able to tear a young lion to shreds, but unable to manage his own passions. One minute he was eating honey out of the dead carcass of a lion he had killed, and the next moment feasting at an unauthorized wedding of his own making; both were clear violations of his Nazirite vow. He was led by the appetite of his own flesh, and therefore found himself too weak to resist his own desires or his wife's manipulation. In the end he lost on both accounts. The riddle he presented at the wedding feast was solved by threats and deception, and his wife was given away to his best man. "What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?" And he said to them: "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!" (Judges 15:18). We bring undo pain and suffering on ourselves when we attempt to do things in our own strength; choosing things and people whom the Lord never purposed we should have just to satisfy our own selfish desires. When we are driven by the desires of our flesh, we, like Samson, follow the path to compromise and are soon met by the roaring lion who seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The Lord purposes that we live a life of yieldedness to the Holy Spirit. When we are under the control of the Holy Spirit, we receive power for a holy life and strength to be bold witnesses for Christ (Galatians 5:16-18). Samson stood unarmed before the lion, and would have been consumed, if not for the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him and enabling him to conquer the adversary. "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6b). Sadly, though he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Samson continued down the path of compromise. We can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great exploits for the Lord, but be spiritually empty and immature because we have been so unwilling to appropriate and use the divine resources the Lord has bestowed upon us for our spiritual growth (John 6:53-58). The Lord stands before us with His hands dripping with honey, as Samson did when he brought some to his parents (Judges 14:9), inviting us to partake of His eternal sweetness which He has won for us in the battle against our adversary. Our Divine Warrior has come back from war victorious, desiring that we might partake of the spoils. He has conquered sin and death for us and holds out His hands beckoning us to come and taste the sweet savor of victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). "Come! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance" (Isaiah 55:1, 2). With Jesus as our daily sustenance, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). He empowers us from within and keeps us from evil. Let us partake of the riches of His grace daily, so we will be strengthened to stand in the day of evil, boldly proclaiming the glad tidings of great joy which has filled our hearts and dispersing the honey which will sweeten men's souls with the knowledge of Christ.

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing."
(Psalm 34:8-10)
Listen to the Evening Prayer Audio

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Evening Prayer
"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD
for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with His truth."
(Psalm 96:11-13)
JUDGES ~ The First 21 Days of 2021 - A Prayer and Fasting Devotional Journey
copyright (c) 2021 Traci A. Alexander. All Rights Reserved

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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