Falling Prey to Deception

Then she let him fall asleep on her lap and called a man to shave off the seven braids on his head. In this way, she made him helpless, and his strength left him. Then she cried, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” When he awoke from his sleep, he said, “I will escape as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” Judges 16:19-20 HCSB

There are many stories of senior citizens who have been deceived or scammed in some way. One is when people dressed as employees of a utility company tell the homeowner that a pipe has burst down the street and they need to come in and check their pipes. While inside they distract the person and take valuables. Another scam involves people falsely representing drug companies or health insurance who sell the senior citizens drugs that are nothing but bogus pills or insurance policies that really do not provide any additional benefits beyond what Medicare already provides. Telemarketing scams tell a person he has won a gift but the caller needs his personal information to send the gift. Such deception can destroy the financial and medical security of innocent people.

Delilah deceived Samson and took advantage of him. She sweet-talked him into revealing the secret of his strength. Just as those who deceive senior citizens are only looking for personal gain, Delilah pretended to love Samson while only looking for personal gain. She was cold and calculating in her deception. Samson appears to be foolish and falls for the deception much like many senior citizens fall for the deception of scammers. It seems Samson would have learned his lesson after three times, but he allowed flattery to lead him into temptation and destruction.

Challenge: How many times have we allowed ourselves to be deceived by flattery? Pray that God will help you to distinguish between deception and truth.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 45:1-28; Acts 2:1-41

Saturday: Psalms 10; Acts 2:42 – 3:26

Sunday: Genesis 46:1-34; Acts 4:1-22

Strength From God

Because she nagged him day after day and pleaded with him until she wore him out, he told her the whole truth and said to her, “My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man.” Judges 16:16-17 HCSB

Samson was a Nazirite, as were Samuel and John the Baptist. Nazirite men took a vow of devotion to God. They could not drink wine (or eat grapes or raisins), cut their hair, or touch a dead body. These were signs of consecration to God.

After being nagged day after day, Samson gave in and revealed the secret to his strength. His strength was not in his hair but rather from the Holy Spirit, according to the Nazirite vow. It was given to him as a special gift because of his devotion and consecration to God. His hair was only a symbol of that consecration. Samson compromised his devotion to God, therefore, God removed His hand of blessing on him.

Challenge: God may remove His hand of blessing on us because of our actions and behaviors. As believers, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and will never leave us. We have assurance through Christ that God will never forsake us (see 1 Philippians 1:6).

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 44:1-34; Acts 1:1-26

If You Love Me

“How can you say, 'I love you,'” she told him, “when your heart is not with me? This is the third time you have mocked me and not told me what makes your strength so great!” Judges 16:15 HCSB

How many times in history have we heard the line, “If you love me, then . . .”? It is a line that both men and women have used for years to get what they wanted. Some men use this plea to solicit intimacy from a woman and women sometimes use this phrase to get something from a man. It is nothing but deception based upon greed and a desire to fulfill one's personal wishes. True love desires what is best for the other person, not what is best for one's self.

Delilah sharpened her attack on Samson, accusing him of not loving her. She used the highest human emotion of love to get information in an attempt to destroy him. This is the fourth time she has tried to destroy him. She was relentless in her attempt to discover the secret to Samson's strength. It seems that Samson would have seen through her attempts, especially after three previous attempts, but Samson allowed his passions and burning lust to blind him to the truth.

Challenge: How can you keep from being deceived and blinded to the truth? Determine if the person with whom you are spending time has the character and faith in God that is desirable. Make sure you look beyond physical attractiveness and look at the person's personality, temperament, and commitment to God and others. Pray that God will give you wisdom to keep you from being deceived. Run from those who say, “If you love me . . .”.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 43:1-34; Matthew 28:1-20

How To Get Ahead

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. The Philistine leaders went to her and said, “Persuade him to tell you where his great strength comes from, so we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each of us will then give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” Judges 16:4-5 HCSB

It seems that our world is filled with people who are only interested in benefitting themselves. Their goal is to climb the corporate ladder and they seem willing to walk over and on others to get to the top. Often they will compromise their personal values and even take bribes to get ahead.

Delilah was only concerned with getting rich and was willing to betray Samson. She met with the Philistine leaders to determine how they could defeat Samson and his great strength. The Philistines were ruled by five rulers from five different regions, so more than likely Delilah was offered 5,500 pieces of silver to betray Samson into their hands (Judas betrayed Jesus for only 30 pieces of silver). That much money would have made Delilah a very rich and influential woman. The temptation of money often causes people to take drastic actions.

Challenge: What are you willing to do to get ahead? Are you willing to hurt or betray others to gain acceptance and promotion? How much money would it take for you to compromise your values and beliefs? Pray that God will help you to be a person of integrity who treats others with respect and chooses to do what is right.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 42:1-38; Matthew 27:32-66

Making Poor Choices

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. The Philistine leaders went to her and said, “Persuade him to tell you where his great strength comes from, so we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each of us will then give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” Judges 16:4-5 HCSB

From the beginning of time God has given mankind the freedom of choice. If we did not have a choice, we would be no more than puppets on a string that God manipulates. God desires for us to make good choices and even tells us what is best for us. But too often we ignore God and listen to the lies of Satan, leading to poor choices that bring destruction. God loves us just like we love our own children. We teach our children to use good judgment and make wise decisions. It is heart-breaking for many parents who watch their children make poor choices that often negatively impact their lives.

Samson followed his passions which led to making the poor choice of marrying a Philistine. The Philistines were enemies of God and worshiped false gods. God's desire was for the Israelites to have the best. He knew that if they married those who did not have the same beliefs and devotion to the one true God, it would lead to compromise in their devotion to Him (see Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

Challenge: We should be careful with whom we have close relationships. Satan will use those relationships to tempt us and cause us to compromise our faith in God. That does not mean we should avoid relationships with non-Christians. We should cultivate relationships so we can share the Gospel with others, but our closest relationships should be with like-minded people of faith. That is why it is important to make wise choices concerning who we date, who we marry, and those with whom we spend time on a regular basis.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 41:1=57; Matthew 27:1-31

Doing What Is Right

When the men of the city got up in the morning, they found Baal's altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it cut down, and the second bull offered up on the altar that had been built. They said to each other, “Who did this?” After they made a thorough investigation, they said, “Gideon, son of Joash did it.” The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he tore down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole besideit.” Judges 6:28-30 HCSB

As I stood and looked at the work the men had done in replacing the shingles on the back of my house, the color of the shingles did not look like what had been selected. I called the man in charge to inquire if the color of the shingles was correct. He assured me the color was what I ordered. Because the color really did not match our brick, I asked him to stop work and determine what it would cost to replace the shingles with a different color. He said he would call me back with a price. When he followed up, he apologized and said when reviewing our order, he realized he had mistakenly ordered the wrong color and that he would replace them at his expense. I was impressed that the man did what was right, even though it cost him any profit he was going to make. Since that time I have used the same company to do other jobs, and I have recommended this contractor to others.

The Lord commanded Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole. This was a test of Gideon's faith and commitment to God. Would he actually do what was right and go against the people of the city and his own father who were worshiping false gods? Gideon was willing to do what was right knowing that it would unleash great anger. The Baal worshipers even wanted to kill him because he did what God had commanded him to do.

Challenge: When you accomplish something for God and do what is right, you may be criticized and even threatened by others. Pray that God will give you the strength and courage to do what is right.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 38:1-30; Matthew 25:1-46

Saturday: Psalm 9; Matthew 26:1-35

Sunday: Genesis 39:1 – 40:23; Matthew 26:36-75

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?” He said to Him, “Please Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house.” “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” Judges 6:14-16 HCSB

One of my greatest challenges in my role as a minister has always been recruiting new volunteer leaders to serve as teachers in the church. I have heard just about every excuse under heaven such as, “I am too old” or “I am getting ready to retire” or “I don't have the time” and “I don't think God is leading me to work in the church.” The list of excuses that people give to avoid serving seems endless. Just like Moses and Gideon, we tend to make excuses instead of stepping up to the plate and serving as God leads.

Even though God promised Gideon that He would be with him, Gideon was afraid and tried to convince God that He had the wrong person for the job. Gideon considered only his weaknesses and limitations instead of his great potential. He failed to believe that God could work through him.

Challenge: God has gifted every believer and expects us to use our gifts to bring honor and glory to Him. Reminding God of our limitations implies that God does not know what He is doing and that He does not really understand us or our abilities. Do not make excuses for failing to do what God has told you to do. Trust God at His Word and get started doing whatever God desires for you to do.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 37:1-36; Matthew 24:1-51

Questioning God

Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, 'Hasn't the Lord brought us out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” Judges 6:11-12 HCSB

In my 40 plus years in ministry I have witnessed many faithful Christians suffer for a variety of reasons. One friend of steadfast faith comes to mind. His wife was tragically killed in an accident leaving him to raise two boys. He eventually remarried and prepared to go to the mission field, but that did not work out. One of his sons was tragically killed, his other son was severely injured in an accident, and his young grandchild died of sudden infant death syndrome. Additionally, his wife has had multiple health issues. If there is anyone who would have reason to question God and ask, “Why me Lord?” it would be him. Yet, his faith is unwavering and he continues to passionately serve God.

Gideon questioned God asking, “Why has all this happened?” The Israelites had been conquered by the the Midianites and were basically living in slavery. Gideon felt that God had abandoned them. He failed to acknowledge that the people had actually abandoned God and worshiped false gods. They had disobeyed and rejected God. Many of the problems they were experiencing they had brought upon themselves. God had promised this would happen if they did not stop worshiping false gods and turn back to Him.

Challenge: It is easy for us to overlook our own personal disobedience and blame God for our problems. We must take responsibility for our actions and acknowledge that we are responsible for many of the problems that come our way. God sometimes uses difficulties to test us or to use us as an example to others of how to face adversity. I believe my friend is a living example of how to faithfully trust God in every situation, even in the difficult situations that may come life's way.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 35:1 – 36:43; Matthew 23:1-39

Mighty Warrior?

The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12 HCSB

When I was a young boy, there was a boy who lived in our neighborhood that frequently bullied me. One day after complaining to my parents about the bully picking on me, my father taught me how to defend myself against the bully. I usually tried to avoid this boy rather than have to confront him in some way.

Gideon was hiding from the Midianites. Wheat was not normally threshed in a wine vat. Threshing floors were usually high and exposed so that when the wheat was tossed into the air the winds would carry the useless pieces of shell called chaff away and the grains of wheat would fall to the ground. The heavier pieces were used for making breads and other food. If Gideon had done this, he would have been a target for bands of Midianite raiders. Therefore, he was forced to thresh wheat in a wine vat hidden from view. This certainly does not sound like a person that would be called a “mighty warrior”.

Challenge: Are there times when you would rather hide than fight? God knows your true character and He has a different perspective on life than ours. God came to call an unsure and insecure Gideon. With God's power and ability, He used Gideon to defeat the Midianites. God can use you to accomplish His will, even if you do not feel very confident.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 34:1-31; Matthew 22:23-46

Angels, Angels, Angels

The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:11 HCSB

Our young son, Jonathan, had wandered out of the house without our knowledge. The doorbell rang and a man asked my wife if this young boy was our son. He was bringing Jonathan back home from a construction site where he was working just two doors down from our house. My wife was thankful to see Jonathan and quickly thanked the man. She later thought that she should go tell the man how appreciative we were that he brought Jonathan back home, so she ventured to the construction site to be told by the others working there that the man she was describing to them was not there and they did not have any employee that fit his description. We have always felt that the man was an angel sent by God to protect Jonathan and bring him back home safely. We do not know that to be a fact, but it was the only reasonable explanation.

This Scripture tells us that the Angel of the Lord came to deliver a message to Gideon. The Old Testament records several appearances of the Angel of the Lord: Genesis 16:7; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; Judges 2:1; 13:3; Zechariah 3:1-6. We do not know if this is the same angel or several different angels acting on behalf of God. The angel in this Scripture had the authority to speak for God and hadcome to deliver an important message to Gideon.

Challenge: The Scriptures are very clear that God created angels and they exist to serve God. It appears that many angels appear in human form to deliver messages from God. Thank God for His angels and their watchcare over us. Be vigilant – you never know when an angel may visit you. Read the book Angels, Angels, Angels by Billy Graham for a closer look at how God uses His angels to accomplish His will in our world and in your life.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 32:1 – 33:20; Matthew 22:1-22