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Monday | Bad Company
In Genesis 38, we find Judah living away from God’s people among the Canaanites who do not believe in God. The biggest influences in his life, his wife and friends, are pulling him away from God rather than pushing him towards God.
1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:33. How have you seen this play out in your life?
2. Have you ever experienced the opposite to be true as well, where godly people lead you towards Christ?
Often the process is slow. We drift from God rather than run and we never even notice. It’s like the progression in Psalm 1:1. We move from listening to the advice of ungodly people, to standing among them, to becoming one of them.
3. Read Psalm 1:1. In what areas of your life are you in danger of being conformed to the world’s beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyles? (ex: coworkers, friends, shows, movies, music, news, etc)
If you have someone godly who knows you well, ask them to tell you where they think you may be at risk of being conformed to the world. If you don’t have a person like this, spend time thinking of who this could be and commit to pursue a closer friendship with them.
4. What has become your primary way of understanding the world: other people, the news, the media, or God’s word?
In Romans 12:2, Paul’s solution to being “conformed to the pattern of this world” is not to be un-conformed or to run and hide from the world, but rather it is to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (aka primarily by the Word of God).
5. Read Romans 12:2. What might it look like for you to look to the Word of God as your authority and the primary way you understand the world?
6. Spend a moment in prayer and ask God to lead you through his people and his Word.
Tuesday | Refiner
Though Judah sinned, again and again, God did not give up on him. In the same way, he doesn’t give up on us. There are moments and seasons in our lives that make us wonder why God would hang on to us and not drop us and run. But, that’s not who our God is. He will never let his own go.
1. Read Romans 8:31–35. Have you ever had times in your Christian life where you have thought that God should have abandoned you because of your sin?
2. What does this tell you about God that nothing (even the foulest sin) can separate you from his love?
3. Do you really believe this is true or do you still feel that you have to earn your way into God’s favor?
This is called grace: the love and favor of God poured out on completely undeserving people. God’s grace isn’t a free pass to sin, but rather it trains us, disciplines us, grows us, and refines us. This is not an easy process, though. It wasn’t easy for Judah, as his sin was exposed to everyone, and it won’t be easy for us. But it is for our good. Always for our good.
4. Read Hebrews 12:11. Have you ever experienced the difficult refining of God in your life? Reflect on one of these.
5. Spend a moment right now and ask God if there is a specific area in your life that he is wanting to refine you and grow you in. Write it down.
6. Read Titus 2:11–14. Ask God to do this training work in your life by his amazing grace.
Wednesday | Sovereign
We can’t ruin the plans of a Sovereign God. It’s that simple. You would think that after Judah’s embarrassment, God’s redemptive plan would be a little bit shaken. But it’s not. Despite Judah’s seemingly best efforts to ruin it all, God is neither surprised nor thwarted.
1. Read Job 42:2. Have you ever had a time where you thought you missed or ruined God’s plan only to find that God was working through your failures?
2. How does this change the way you view God seeing that he uses evil as part of his plan?
It doesn’t stop here, though. Not only is God not thwarted by Judah’s failures, but Judah and Tamar are Jesus’s ancestors (Matthew 1:2–3). God uses the child of this adultery to be the great-great-great…….great-grandfather of Jesus Christ.
3. When evil happens in your life and the world around you, how do you process it in relation to God?
4. Read Romans 8:28. What we believe about the sovereignty of God bears either good or bad fruit in our lives during times of suffering and evil. How can this promise from Romans bring you clarity through suffering?
God’s sovereignty doesn’t just apply for big things and special people, but it is also for small things and insignificant people. As Christians, we can take comfort that the God that made beauty out of the mess of Genesis 38, will bring beauty out of the messes in our lives and in our world.
3. Read Revelation 21:1–5. This is the ultimate hope and what God’s plan is moving towards: the ultimate redemption of all things. Ask God to give you faith to trust his sovereignty in your life and in our world.
Thursday | Unashamed
God redeems messes and makes them beautiful. He uses messes for his glory. And he loves messes like us. This is true, but there’s more. He doesn’t love us under the table or tell us to keep our failures hidden. The second thing we learn about God from Judah’s sin is that he is not ashamed of us.
1. Have you ever had someone openly befriend you when it cost them their reputation to do so?
2. What does this tell you about God’s grace that he would openly own and love Judah and Tamar through their sin?
3. Read Hebrews 2:11. When you read this are there things in your life that you think this wouldn’t apply to (things that you think “surely God is ashamed of ______”)?
4. Spend time meditating on Hebrews 2:11. Ask God to help you believe this in those areas of your life where you feel ashamed.
As hard as it is to believe, God is not ashamed to call us his own. Even in those areas where we are most ashamed of ourselves, God is not ashamed. This truth has the ability to destroy the shame of sin in our lives and free us to walk in the light and joy of God’s eternal pleasure.
5. Read Zephaniah 3:17. Write down those things that you feel might make God ashamed to call you his child. Now picture the scene described in Zephaniah. Even in the midst of these things, God never stopped rejoicing to call you his child.
6. Pray and ask God for a heart to believe his incomprehensible love for you despite your own sins, weaknesses, and failures.
Friday | Sacrifice
Before God exposes Judah’s sin with Tamar, Judah shows little sign of trust in God. But, in God’s grace, he uses this situation to change Judah to be more like God. Fast forward a few years, and Benjamin, Judah’s younger brother is at risk of being imprisoned in Egypt. Judah, who once left his family, now offers his life instead of Benjamin’s in a beautiful picture of what Christ would do for us.
1. What would you say is the essence of what it is to love others?
2. Read 1 John 3:16. What does John say is the essence of love?
God doesn’t just expect us to lay down our lives to love others because he said so, but because he did so. All of our love, all of our sacrifice, all of our patience and forgiveness is a tiny drop compared to the vast oceans of his love for us. Our hearts become softened towards others as we remember and worship God for his love for us.
3. How often does remembering God’s love for you directly motivate your love for others?
4. What might it look like for this to become a bigger motivator in your love for others?
5. Spend a moment and ask God who you have been loving selfishly or not at all. Write them down.
6. Read 1 John 3:18. What might it look like for you to lay down your life for these people today? Ask God for grace to love them not just “in word or talk but in action and in truth.”