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Monday | Rejoicing in God’s Faithfulness
Genesis 43:29–30. Though Joseph had prospered incredibly in Egypt, he was still separated from his family and was no doubt carrying the wounds of what his brothers had done to him. We come to this moment in the story where Joseph is overcome with emotion at seeing his younger brother Benjamin. He is finally seeing God answer prayers and promises from years ago.
1. How often do you see God answer prayer in your life?
2. Have there been answers to prayer over the past couple of months that you have perhaps missed because of other things going on in your life? Spend a moment thanking God for these.
Read Colossians 5:2. The biblical process of prayer doesn’t end with the request but includes watchfulness and thanksgiving. Watchfulness comes from a heart that is so filled with faith and expectancy that it is on the lookout to see how God is going to answer its prayer. How watchful we are after we pray often reveals how faith-filled and expectant our hearts are.
3. What does your watchfulness after you pray say about your expectancy in God answering your prayers?
4. Is God calling you to greater watchfulness in your prayers?
Thanksgiving is the next step in prayer after watchfulness. If we aren’t watching for the provision and answers of God, then we will not be able to live a life of thankfulness. Thanksgiving happens when we see God’s faithfulness, whether we get what we asked for or not, because we are watching for the faithfulness and goodness of God in our lives.
5. How often do you find yourself thanking God for specific things he’s done in your life?
6. How might you make steps towards fostering a thankful heart this week?
Tuesday | The Power of Circumstance
Genesis 43:26–34, 44:1–13. Joseph has already tested his brothers once, and now he puts them through two more tests. What’s he looking for? He’s looking for changed hearts. Years ago, they were jealous of Joseph, and out of their jealousy sinned grievously and sold him into slavery to Egypt. Now, he gives them ample reason to be jealous of Benjamin, and then makes it easy for them to allow him to be taken as a slave in Egypt.
1. Why might this situation strike us as unfair of Joseph towards his brothers?
2. Do you ever find yourself blaming your difficult circumstances for your sin or idolatry?
Read Deuteronomy 8:1–2. Just as Joseph tested his brothers to reveal their hearts, God tests us to reveal to us the sin and idols that are in our hearts. Circumstances have no power to create sin in our lives, but they have tremendous power to uncover it.
3. What sins and idolatries have the circumstances of the past 2 months revealed in your life?
4. In what ways have you been victorious through the circumstances of the past 2 months?
God’s tests are never a determination of whether we are accepted by him or not, because Jesus has already passed the test for everyone who trusts in him. Praise God! And actually, this amazing grace gives us even greater power to obey because we don’t have to be afraid of losing the affection and favor of God by our sin. Knowing that we are already loved and accepted by a Father who is pleased in us gives us incredible freedom and joy in obedience!
5. Does Satan tempt you with fear of punishment from God when circumstances reveal sin in your life?
6. How might God’s grace towards you in Christ motivate your obedience this week?
Wednesday | True Repentance
Spoiler alert: Joseph’s brothers pass both tests (Genesis 43:34 & Genesis 44:14–34), and in the process teach us a valuable insight into the nature of true repentance. In Genesis 44:16, we find the genuine confession, where Judah admits to their guilt. This is the first step of true repentance.
1. We asked this question in last week’s devotional, but perhaps it will be good to revisit it. What does confession look like in your walk with God? Are you often broken over the sin in your life?
One of the fascinating things in this story is that Judah could have said they were innocent because they didn’t steal the goblet. He could have rightly defended himself, but instead he admits to their guilt. He was sensitive to what God was doing in their life. God was using this seemingly unrelated moment to point to sin from the past that they had never properly dealt with in order that they might bring it to light and deal with it.
2. Spend a moment to slow down and genuinely ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there are things in your life that God is revealing right now so that you can bring them into the light before God and others and repent of them? Write those things down and confess them to God and someone else who loves God and loves you.
But Judah’s repentance didn’t stop with grief-stricken confession and neither should ours. True repentance involves action. True repentance involves living out in our lives the conviction that God has brought into our hearts.
3. Read 2 Corinthians 7:8–10. What is Paul teaching about repentance here?
4. Do you find yourself confessing the same sins over and over again without the forward movement of true repentance?
5. What might it look like to, by the power of the Spirit, begin to walk in true repentance in some areas of sin in your life?
Thursday | No Greater Love
Read Genesis 44:30–34. Let’s zoom in for a second on the last section of this story in Genesis 44. Judah is still speaking and is the spokesperson for the brothers before Joseph. In an amazing plot twist, Judah doesn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and try to deceive his way out of trouble, nor does he follow in his own footsteps and give his brother Benjamin into slavery. Rather, he lays down his own life to redeem his brother from slavery.
1. What generational sins of your parents and sins of your past have you walked in victory over? Praise God for these as you write them down!
2. What generational sins of your parents and sins of your past are you still wrestling with? As you write these, ask God to help you repent of these by his Spirit.
Read John 15:12–13. All repentance looks like laying down our lives. Whether we are called to lay down our whole lives or aspects of our lives (like our desires, our comfort, our security, our reputation, our family, our jobs or our money), all true repentance follows in the footsteps of Jesus’ example for us on the cross. He laid down everything out of love for God and love for us and we are called to do the same.
3. How does this change the way you look at repentance to see it as a laying down of your life to love God and love others?
4. What things might God be calling you to lay down in your life right now in order to love God and love other people?
5. This could be a better question. What things in your life are you holding onto that might be keeping you from truly loving the people around you?
God isn’t asking us to do something that he hasn’t already done for us. All of our lives flow from his example. The Gospel is not only our motivation for obedience as we saw on Tuesday, but our example in all our obedience as well.
6. Read Hebrews 12:1–2. Spend a moment “fixing your eyes on Jesus” (as the NIV puts it) and seeing the cross as our ultimate example in every area of our lives.
Friday | Called to What?
We’ve been looking at true repentance out of Genesis 43–44, but this conversation can’t be complete without looking at what we’ve been called to turn to. Repentance is a turning from something. And we saw that we turn from things by following Jesus’ example and laying down our lives and aspects of our lives to love God and others. But what are we called to?
1. Think about your motivations for obedience. What are the primary motivators for your obedience to God most of the time?
Read Ephesians 2:8–10. What’s amazing about this passage is also the thing that makes Christianity different from every other religion. Salvation precedes obedience, grace precedes works, and God’s love for us precedes our love for him. We are no longer under the law but under grace. We are now the workmanship of God and our good works flow out of our new identity as sons and daughters of God.
2. What would change in your life if you lived with a grace-first perspective rather than a works-first perspective?
3. Read verse 10 again. How does it affect the way you think about yourself to see that you are called the “workmanship of God?”
4. How does it change the way you think about obedience thinking that God has good works planned for you to walk in?
One of the beautiful things about us being God’s workmanship is that it tells us our purpose. A workmanship brings glory and honor and fame to the workman. It has a dual purpose. A car is meant to transport people, but it’s also meant to bring glory to the carmaker. A book is meant to communicate something, but it’s also meant to bring glory to the writer. A building is meant to be used for a specific purpose, but it’s also meant to bring glory to the architect. In the same way, we are meant for the purpose of obedience and good works, but we are also mean to glorify God as his sons and daughters.
5. How does it make you feel that God has put his stamp on you and owns you as his own, weaknesses and all?
6. Spend a moment thanking God for adopting you and owning you as his child. Ask him for grace to live out of that identity.